When it comes to natural champagne, wine shops and delis are your friend. Natural champagne makers don’t produce thousands of bottles like the big houses do, which is why they don’t sell their products to anyone who comes along. Therefore, it can be really hard to find natural champagne online. I’ve spoken to renowned chefs that couldn’t get their hands on the champagne they wanted. Not because they lacked financial resources, but because they didn’t live in France and the champagne maker in question didn’t want to export the needed quantity!
Owners of delis and wine shops, on the other hand, often have a great network of natural champagne producers, resulting in an impressive stash of impressive champagnes. And yes, they’ll share them with you, if you ask nicely.
Below, you’ll find my two go-to wine shops (often slash delis) that turn every champagne trip into a true adventure.
Au Bon Manger- Reims
This deli annex wine shop has a special place in my champagne flooded heart. With Au Bon Manger, owners Aline and her époux Éric created a shelter for wandering souls looking for warmth, spirited conversation and liquid gold. Because that’s what you get when you walk into their deli. Supported by silent force Éric, Aline is the absolute queen of natural champagne, as she doesn’t just sell it; she has a network of producers she believes in, and she makes sure their champagne goes where it should.
Don’t ever go there to pick up 30 bottles of her finest champagne- she won’t give it to you. First, you need to sit down, learn about the story of the producer and most of all: have a taste. There’s a good chance she’ll sit down next to you, asking for your opinion. Then, there’s a 100% chance that you tell her you’ve never tasted anything like it, and that you wish to take a few bottles home. So that’s what you do, and when you return a few months later, Aline will welcome you back like a long lost friend. She’ll have you sit down and she’ll pour you a glass of champagne, produced by a rising star she’s just discovered. Again, you’ll tell her you’ve never tasted anything like it, and so on.
Long story short: highly recommend it.
ps. Can’t go to France? On their website, Aline and Éric offer champagne boxes that can be shipped to your home. The boxes consist of around six bottles that are selected by Aline herself, and I’m a fan!
|Address||7 Rue Courmeaux, 51100 Reims, France|
|Telephone nr.||+33 3 26 03 45 29|
Aux crieurs de vin- Troyes
In the midst of the department of Aube lies its capital city Troyes, and in the midst of Troyes, you’ll find Aux Crieurs de Vin. It’s a small, dark restaurant annex wine shop, and at first sight, it doesn’t seem to be more special than the other restaurants annex wine shops in town. But it is. Aux Crieurs de Vin is not just home to natural champagne enthusiasts, it’s also home to the people making the natural champagne. Heroes like David Leclapart and Pascal Agrapart go there to eat, drink and talk to the owners and other guests, who could easily be champagne heroes themselves.
The owners of Aux Crieurs de Vin are always up for a champagne chat, and they’ll advice you on new arrivals and golden oldies upon request. In fact, this is how I discovered Résonance by Marie Courtin which is now one of my favourite champagnes.