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The Grand Pommery Champagne Cellars

Built in the 19th century by Madame Pommery, the estate extends over 50 hectares, 60 Gallo-Roman crayons, 18 km of cellars at a depth of 30 metres and a staircase of 116 steps.

I have rarely heard of Pommery Champagne, but a visit to the city of Reims – less than an hour by bullet train from Paris’ Gare de l’Est, it was a MUST SEE as it is the largest and oldest cellars that produce this bubbly drink that celebrates special occasions to the heights of glamour and luxury. 

We were extremely lucky as we booked for a tour during lunch and had the place all to ourselves. Tourists still flock to Paris and the countrysides are relatively empty of the hordes that now invade my beloved City of Lights. I’ve had my fill of wine tasting tours from way back when and where, but champagne?

Fruit Tree (sculpture) by Choi Jeong Hwa 2015; middle, jaw dropping view of a pit from below; right, global cities are honored stocked with vintage Pommery champagne*
Giant frescoes decorate some pits; right, ancient modes to transport equipment in the pits*
Honorable mention of my fav Okura Hôtel in Tokyo for their exclusive Pommery vault; right, the oldest vault of Pommery Champagne*
The colorful and vast reception lobby of the Pommery Champagne tour; right, laser lights illumine tunnels*
Impressive champagne vaults stretching several kilometres; middle, descent to 60 meters underground; right, spring blossoms greet us on our walk to our Hôtel*

So, I chose Pommery because it is the oldest and largest of existing factories and cellars. And I was not disappointed. 

Just going down the steps leading to the pits and cellars was exciting, breathing in the cold, damp and moldy air even added to the novelty of it all. When you’re in the pits and you look up to see that ray of sun piercing the darkness of the caves, one is easily amazed at the fortitude and zeal of Madame Pommery who bit by bit had the temerity to build this amazing work of human hands that resembles the maze of a gigantic anthill with her as the Queen Ant, giving orders left and right, to be served in order to create an empire of this luxurious beverage.

Louise Pommery took on her husband’s wine business after she was widowed in 1860. Selling off their wool business which was on a decline, she managed to acquire 120 limestone and chalk pits and decided to concentrate on champagne.

Jeanne Alexandre Louise Melin managed to use these unique cellars to store and age thousands of bottles in a natural temperature-controlled environment at a constant 10°C. Many other Champagne houses later followed suit. Offices and other edifices above the cellars were modeled after the great English country houses in honor of her prestigious British clientele.

Louise was the first woman to receive a French state funeral with 20,000 people gathered in the streets of Reims to honour her great contributions to the city and the Champagne industry.  

Her story reminds me of the great women of Negros who actually led the sugar industry behind the names of their leisure loving spouses! 

MY PRAYER

This is what the Lord says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances.” Isaiah 49:8*

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