Wine and Culture Tours Wine and Food Diary of Giles MacDonogh

Giles MacDonogh to Lead- Champagne: vines, cellars and cuvées TOUR – Reims, Épernay, Côte des Blancs

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Giles MacDonogh to lead-Champagne: vines, cellars and cuvées – Reims, Épernay, Côte des Blancs

Private arrangements at most of the champagne houses visited.,…A selection of independent and multinational producers in Reims, Épernay and surrounding villages.Stay in a four-star hotel in central Reims.


Giles MacDonogh

Historian, food and wine expert, translator, teacher and journalist. He is author of fifteen books including monographs on Berlin and Prussia, biographies of Frederick the Great and the last Kaiser and a best-seller on post-war Germany, After the Reich. His latest book is On Germany (Hurst), published in July 2018.


“Champagne was not always famous for its fizz. For centuries, this was a region of unripe grapes and weedy wines, and it wasn’t until the 19th century that the méthode champenoise was perfected. From its initial planting by the Romans to the triumph of sparkling champagne, this five-day tour with Martin Randall Travel traces its roots and samples a selection of producers in Reims, Épernay and surrounding villages. Private tours are a notable feature, with tastings of both the famous and the unfamiliar – from Dom Pérignon in the cellars at Moët to the premiers crus of Mailly.

Led by historian, gastronomy and wine expert, Giles MacDonogh.”

Although champagne was the wine of coronations in Reims, the Tour is based, it was not until the seventeenth century that it found an international vocation. Pierre Pérignon, a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Hautvillers in the Marne Valley and English merchants doctoring shipments of new wines, struck on a way of giving the wine a fresh twist. Laced with sugar and run into strong bottles before the spring, champagne underwent a second fermentation which not only resulted in more acceptable alcohol levels but it sparkled as well.

Sparkling champagne was an instant success. It was the fizz of Charles II’s court and the louche days of the French Regency following the death of Louis XIV. While still champagne continued to be made the sparkling stuff was always in demand when people were in the mood for fun. It had become the favourite of poets and painters, even before the widows and German book-keepers of the nineteenth century resolved the final technical problems and transformed champagne into one of the world’s greatest wines.

Departs 23–27 April 2019 with prices from £2,190 per person (two sharing) including return travel from London St Pancras by Eurostar; four-star accommodation in central Reims; travel by private coach; breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners with wine and coffee; all admissions and tastings; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.

For further information and to book, please visit or call +44 (0)20 8742 3355

From Australia: 1300 55 95 95

From New Zealand: 0800 877 622

From North America: 1-800-988-6168 (toll-free)



Day 1

London to Reims. Leave London St Pancras by Eurostar at c. 10.30am for Paris, and continue by coach to Reims. Arriving at c. 4.00pm, there is time to settle into the hotel before an introductory talk, tasting and dinner. All four nights are spent in Reims.

Day 2

Épernay. Travel by coach through the Montagne de Reims to the small, but important champagne town of Épernay. Morning lecture at the Comité Champagne, the trade association representing independent growers and houses. Afternoon private visit of the cellars at Moët followed by a tasting of Dom Pérignon.

Day 3

Côte des Blancs, Montagne de Reims. South through an expansive landscape of vineyards to Vertus and the family-owned Fourny & Fils, where expression of the terroir and Chardonnay reigns supreme. After lunch, back north for the afternoon to the impressive cooperative installations in the premier cru village of Mailly. Visit and tasting of four champagnes.

Day 4

Reims. Morning visit to Charles Heidsieck on the outskirts of the city, followed by time for an independent lunch and free afternoon. A late-afternoon visit to Pommery and the crayères followed by dinner in the champagne house.

Day 5

Leave Reims at c. 10.30am by coach for Paris and continue by Eurostar to London St Pancras, arriving c. 3.30pm.

The tour is dependent on the kindness of many individuals and organisations, some of whom are reluctant to make arrangements far in advance, so the order of visits outlined above may change and there may be substitutions for some of the wineries mentioned.


23 – 27 Apr 2019 MF496

from £2,190


Price, per person

Two sharing: £2,190 or £1,980 without Eurostar. Single occupancy: £2,360 or £2,150 without Eurostar.


Train travel by Eurostar (Standard Premier); coach travel; hotel accommodation; breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.


Hôtel de la Paix, Reims: a comfortable, modern and central 4-star hotel, originally three separate buildings. Rooms are bright and well-equipped.

How strenuous?

There is quite a lot of walking and standing in possibly muddy vineyards and cool, damp cellars (stairs to the crayères can be steep and numerous) as well as tasting an average of 5 champagnes per day. The first and last days involve a long drive but there is little coach travel in between. Average distance by coach per day: 57 miles.

Are you fit enough to join the tour?

Group size

Between 10 to 22 participants.

Travel advice

Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting:

How To Book with Martin Randall Travel Ltd

By e-mail

Download our booking form, which should be filled in electronically, saved locally to your computer and then sent to us as an attachment in an e-mail. Download the booking form.

Voysey House, Barley Mow Passage, London, W4 4GF, United Kingdom

On Martin Randall Travel Ltd,Voysey House, Barley Mow Passage, London, W4 4GF, United Kingdom

SeeWebsite :

Click ‘Book this tour’ on any tour page to initiate your booking. You can pay a deposit (10% of the overall booking value) or the full amount. View payment options.

 By e-mail

Download our booking form, which should be filled in electronically, saved locally to your computer and then sent to us as an attachment in an e-mail. Download the booking form.

By telephone

Call us to make a provisional booking which we will hold for 7 days: 020 8742 3355

From outside the UK: +44 20 8742 3355

From North America: 1-800-988-6168 (toll-free)

From Australia interstate (for the Brisbane office): 1300 55 95 95

From New Zealand (for the Brisbane office): 0800 877 622

By post

A detachable booking form is available at the back of your brochure, which you can send to the postal address below. You can download our booking form if you do not have a copy of our brochure.

Martin Randall Travel Ltd
Voysey House
Barley Mow Passage
W4 4GF
United Kingdom

Please note that it is important that you read our Terms & Conditions and sign the booking form at this stage. Upon receipt of your booking form and deposit we will send you confirmation of your booking. After this your deposit is non-refundable except in the special circumstances mentioned in the Terms & Conditions.


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