Champagne Bike Tour – Photo Gallery

In September 2023, Roberto Peixoto joined us from Brazil on a bike tour through Champagne. I won’t tell you much about the new tour here, I’ve done that elsewhere. I just want to showcase Roberto’s Photo Diary of our week on a Champagne Bike Tour.

I’ve uploaded a selection of Roberto’s photographs to our Photostream on Flickr, and I’ve chosen five of my favourites, with an explanation why I chose them. And I thought I’d start with a photo that has nothing to do with Champagne.

Friday, beautiful selection of cheese near Reims, Champagne
Friday, beautiful selection of cheese near Reims, Champagne

1. The French and their Cheese!

On Friday, we went into a small supermarket next to the Canal in Sillery, on the way out of Reims towards Vezernay, searching picnic stuff . And we were faced with this enormous selection of beautiful cheeses! I cannot imagine anything similar in the UK, and it’s one of the things I love about France. In France, this is normal! This wasn’t a specialist cheese shop, just an ordinary little supermarket in the middle of the countryside.



Wednesday, in the Montagne de Reims, Champagne
Wednesday, in the Montagne de Reims, Champagne

2. ‘The Chain Gang Cycle Tours’ in a single image.

I think this photo is just beautiful. Roberto and Fabricio, cycling among the vines in the Montagne de Reims. We’re on our way from Épernay to Reims, and these will almost certainly be Pinot Noir vines, ready for harvest. We’re actually cycling uphill, but you’d never know from the smiles on their faces.

In the old days of printed brochures, this would definitely have made the cut!




3. A First For Me, A Champagne Brut Zero.

This photo shows one of the Mikas and David, at Champagne Voirin-Jumel.
Voirin-Jumel is a small producer in the Grand Cru village of Cramant in the côte des Blancs. That means we’re cycling downhill, from Vertus on our way to Épernay.

I like this photo because it illustrates a very welcome recent change in Champagne. The vineyard is currently run by the 5th generation of the same family, and we were able to taste their house blend, a vintage Grand Cru, a rosé, but we also tasted a champagne which had no sugar added at the ‘dosage’ stage. They call this wine a ‘Brut Zero’. The winemaker and the œnologue have decided there’s enough sugar in the grapes, and it doesn’t need any extra. This is quite a rarity, and a real treat.

I can’t see this photo without remembering that we had three cyclists who knew much more than me about Champagne, Mika and Mika from Finland, and David (on the right) from the US. It was so interesting to explore all week with 3 experts on hand. A bonus, and another reason I like this photo.



Friday, watching the horses in the Montagne de Reims, Champagne
Friday, watching the horses in the Montagne de Reims, Champagne


4. Horse-drawn weeding in the Montagne de Reims.

How could we resist this? We were cycling downhill, having climbed through Verzenay and over the top of the Montagne de Reims, and there were two people, a Dad / Daughter combo, driving horses through the vines. We saw something similar last year, and it isn’t exactly common, so I stopped to ask if we might have met them in Avize the previous August.

It turned out it was the same people, and would we like to have a go driving the horses? Obviously we would! This was on Friday, we’ve been together for seven days and everyone is friends by then. So we stopped and a few of us had a go behind the horse. It was bloody difficult! And the horse needed a lot of encouragement from its owners, but what a great experience.

This was a Louis Roederer parcel of vines, and they talk about their use of horses as part of their commitment to Bio-dynamic production. Have a read: LOUIS ROEDERER, THE HORSE AND BIODYNAMICS


Wednesday, tasting at Alfred-Gratien in Épernay, Champagne
Wednesday, tasting at Alfred-Gratien in Épernay, Champagne

5. Tasting in the cellars of Alfred-Gratien.

Champagne Alfred-Gratien, based in Épernay, have a big claim to fame, they age their champagne in oak barrels.

The other thing I like about Alfred-Gratien is the trouble they go to to sustain the quality of their Champagne. There’s a problem in Champagne, they’re victims of their own success! Champagne is incredibly successful, they have huge yields (the 2nd highest of any wine region in France), it’s also the largest vineyard in France. If you grow the correct grapes, within the geographic limits of Champagne, it’s a sellers market, regardless of the quality of the grapes. Many of the growers have no link to the quality of the wine, and they will always be able to find a buyer for their grapes. So how does a winemaker like Alfred-Gratien make sure they are able to buy high-quality grapes?

The answer is it’s a lot of work, and they nurture their network of growers assiduously. It’s an interesting story, and nobody explains it better than Alfred-Gratien – visit, if you get the chance (or come to Champagne with us).

Here we are with Melissa, tasting in their beautiful cellar.


If you want to explore the whole collection, click here to view the album on Flickr. And click on any of these images to enlarge them.

Chateau Boursault

I was supposed to choose 5 photos. I managed to discard 129 photos, but I just couldn’t choose the 130th. Here is the Chateau Boursault, overlooking the valley of the River Marne, just 6 miles or so downstream from Épernay.

This was the private residence of the legendary Mother of Champagne, Veuve Clicquot. It’s such a beautiful building, in spectacular gardens. Just the trees in the gardens would be worth visiting. But then you’ve got this beautiful chateau, too.

Wednesday, the Château de Boursault in the Marne Valley
Wednesday, the Château de Boursault in the Marne Valley

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