12-Aug-2000 -- A confluence with bubbles.
Just a year ago, Michèle and I had visited Reims scouting for a good spot to
watch the total eclipse of the sun in August. We wanted to come back and pay
tribute to Dom Perignon, great benefactor to mankind for inventing the process
turning white wine into champagne. The project became even more interesting
when we found that a confluence awaited our visit just outside Epernay, the
capital city of the Champagne wine growing region.
Meanwhile, the DCP was becoming famous in my family. I guess that
combining the promise of a visit to some wine cellar and worldwide celebrity
through confluence hunting proved irresistible. So, my sisters Marie-Claude, and
her daughter Juline, and Marianne, with her boyfriend Guy, joined the party.
We left Brussels at dawn. The weather was perfect. We reached Epernay
by late morning and proceeded to a place recommended by my parents. A warm
welcome, an interesting visit and a glass of champagne at the Emile Leclere cellar
put us in an excellent mood to proceed to confluence hunting. We first reached
Cramant, 6 Km SE of Epernay from where we found a little farm road to take us up
the hill where we would eventually find the confluence. We stopped on a shady
spot with a beautiful view of the surrounding vineyards to have lunch.
Coached by Michèle, seasoned confluence hunter, Juline lead the team
towards the Grail. As the pleasant walk on the side of the hill proceeded, everyone
had one's fun with the "GPS dance", particularly since the last digits
kept flickering. Marianne found the closest fix where I immortalized the group
surrounding a special champagne bottle we used to mark the spot -- and would
eventually drink to celebrate the occasion!
The confluence is on the corner of a recently cleared and freshly plowed
patch of land. No doubt it will be full of vines when the next visitor comes. The
area is known as "Cote des Blancs" where is grown only Chardonnay,
the cornerstone of the champagne wines. Being close to the top of a hill, the
view on the surrounding countryside and the Marne valley was absolutely
wonderful. In the pictures, we see Epernay in the distance with the quaint
village of Chouilly in the foreground. We enjoyed the scenery for a while.
After visiting Epernay some more, we ended the day with an excellent
dinner in Rocroi, an old fortified city near the Belgian border.
So we returned to Brussels with nice memories - and extra weight in the
trunk (guess what?!)