“The Luxurious Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa: Where the Epicurious Meet”
Still or sparkling? It’s a question normally asked when you order mineral water that could soon apply to Champagne.
“Bollinger madam et monsieur? Avec gaz ou sans gaz?”
Whatever you choose, luxurious bubble bliss is waiting at the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa, a perfect Champagne retreat.
Explore In Style
No hotel in the world celebrates L’art de vivre or exemplifies the uber-luxurious lifestyle more than the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa in Champillon, near Epernay, the unofficial capital of France’s Champagne region.
A 90-minute transfer from Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport or 45 minutes on the TGV makes getting there a breeze. The hotel also has its own helipad, should arriving James Bond-style appeal.
The 47-room Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa offers the chance to explore the region in unique ways too. Among the options are Hautvillers, the birthplace of Dom Perignon, by e-bike, the Montaigne de Reims Regional Nature Park by hot air balloon, the Marne Valley by boat, horse or Quad bike, and some of the region’s major champagne houses such as Pol Roger and Moet et Chandon by chauffeured electric Cabriolet, or something swankier.
Sunset views are as lovely as the fine wine
After a day of exploring, there is no better reward than the haute cuisine of Michelin-star chef Jean-Denis Rieubland who highlights the products of the region and the hotel’s own garden in each and every dish. Dine under a thousand crystal pendants in Le BelleVue Restaurant et Terrace or under the golden patinated ceiling of the Michelin-starred Le Royal. Guiding us all the way through the langoustines, Mieral pigeon, Aubrac boeuf, sole de petit bateau au caviar Osatere, and miscellaneous gourmandises was the 800-strong fine wine list curated by sommelier Philippe Marques’s good taste.
A stand out was the still wine of this sparkling region.
Though bubbly gets all the attention in the region, still wine should not be overlooked.
Bottled as Coteaux Champenois, the still wines of Champagne now account for only 0.7% of production in a region celebrated for its sparkling wine superior. But the famous houses still produce quality still wines, ironically niche-ier than bubbly. Making a Grand Blanc from a Grand Noir terroir, Charles Heidsieck cellar master Cyril Brun released four single cru still Chardonnays from the 2017 vintage representing Montgueux, Villers-Marmery, Vertus and Oger. Louis Roederer Hommage à Camille is made from Burgundian and Alsatian grapes specifically planted in 2002 to produce quality still wine and express the famous terroir of Champagne in a new way.
Champagne Drappier released a truly witty wine- called Trop m’en Faut!- a multi-vintage (2017/18) and an anagram of Fromenteau, the French word for Pinot Gris. It is also the old French way of saying, “I can’t get enough”, which feels appropriate here.
Drappier also offers Permission, a single varietal Cotes de Bar Pinot Noir and Perpétuité, a 14-vintage blended white Pinot Noir. Based in Aube, Drappier was founded in in 1808, and makes an Urville Rouge. Comments Michel Drappier : “Before ‘Champagne’ as a sparkling wine became famous, what made our wines well-known was our ability to make delicate white wine out of red grapes (vins gris).
“As the climate warms, the quality of Champagne’s still wines will evolve. With our limestone soil and the right weather, we’ll be close to the Burgundy of thirty years ago. Our red and white wines will doubtless be excellent.”
The terrace during fall shows off Champagne’s colours
Michel, the seventh-generation vigneron of the 57-hectare estate, created the first single parcel cuvée with Grande Sendree 1975. Maison Drappier was the first to produce a zero dosage. It also produces the 30 litre, 40 bottle Melchizedek, the world’s largest champagne bottle.
The Fromenteau comes from the Truchots plot of Jurassic Kimmeridgean soil, exposed to the south. The soil is tilled by Ardennes horses led by Antoine Drappier. The grape has been present in Aube since the seventeenth century. Fromenteau is just one part of a “forgotten garden”, along with Petit Meslier, Arbane and Blanc Vrai.
Climate change has been good for still Champagnes. So have more conscious farming methods and lower yields. Global warming allows grapes in the famously chilly region to ripen fully, giving wines more weight and flavor concentration. Over the past three decades, temperatures in Champagne have increased 1.1C (about 2F), bringing forward ed harvest dates as grapes reach ripeness earlier.
Still reds from Champagne are lighter than their Burgundian counterparts, while the whites are chalky Telmont, Philipponnat, Drappier, Georges Vesselle, Paul Bara, Tarlant, René Geoffroy, Paul Louis Martin, Egly-Ouriet, and Bollinger all now offer still wines.
The time cannot be far off when we can beckon the sommelier and enquire about Henri Giraud and Rene Geoffrey, not to mention Pierre Peters, and order some good Coteaux Champenois.
Indoor pool at the hotel’s relaxing spa
Relax + Rest
After a gastronomic odyssey, the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa’s world-class spa overlooking the vines is a welcome respite. You’ll find a menu of therapies designed to pamper, replenish and restore. The spa also has two swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), a steam room and sauna, jacuzzis, a yoga studio and fitness room.
After a day of epicurean and wine wonder, you can collapse on the bed in one of the hotel’s six types of gorgeous suites, including the indulgent Josephine Suite, fit for an empress. The spectacular space has a bedroom, separate dressing and living room areas, and exceptional views of the vineyards. You can also sip to your heart’s content on the furnished outdoor terrace.
BeSeeingYou In: Champagne
Good to know: Champagne contains less calories than red wine or white wine, so drink up—guilt free!
WOW! Factor: More than 300 million bottles of Champagne are produce annually from this relatively small region (about 34,300 hectares)
Tip: The ideal temperature for a bottle of Champagne is between about 8-10°C. To get the temperature just right, put the bottle in an ice bucket of half water/ half ice and let it chill for 20-30 minutes before serving.
Author bio: Kevin Pilley