by Paige Donner
Article first published as OenoPass Champagne France on Technorati.
Just launched last week by France’s Champagne region is the wine tourist friendly OenoPass. Think of it as an amusement park pass that you pre-pay where the attractions are picturesque champagne houses and working wineries as well as Champagne cultural points of interest.
From now until the end of 2012, the OenoPass is also a great bargain. For 50Euros (instead of the regular price of 100Euros) you get 10 ticket coupons which allow you entry, most of them accompanied by a champagne tasting, into all ten participating partner venues.
The idea is at once simple and ingenious. It is best adapted to wine tourists who have a vehicle or access to a vehicle but it’s not essential to have a car. The 10 participating properties such as Champagne de Castellane in Épernay, Cristallerie Royale de Champagne et Musée du cristal in Bayel and the Drappier Champagne Estate in Urville are all along the formal “Route du Champagne” or the beautiful country road route that takes you through the verdant sloping vineyard hillsides of the Champagne Region (known in France as Champagne-Ardenne).
You can also go in for the 5 coupon ticket OenoPass which, too, is good for a whole year from the date of purchase. It normally will sell for 50Euros but until the end of 2012 you can get it for the introductory price of 25Euros. Most cellar visits and tastings in Champagne are priced from about 15Euros each and up so this offers a good incentive and way to do your champagne explorations.
Other partner wineries and cultural venues participating in the OenoPass for this launch phase are Champagne G.H. Mumm located in Reims, Domaine Pommery and their sister property, Demoiselle, also both located in Reims, as well as Le Phare which is an old lighthouse that an eccentric businessman, Joseph Goulet, built in 1909 in the middle of champagne vineyards in Verzenay to promote his champagne. It ended up being quite the attraction back in the day, then it was abandoned during the war years, but has once again been restored and resurrected as a modern museum paying tribute to the history and techniques of champagne with state-of-the-art audiovisual installations. English is spoken there and at all ten of the partner venues.
As you are touring around this elegant region’s champagne routes, vineyards and estates, be sure to stop for some regional delicacies such as the ham from Reims or “jambon de Reims” which is triple boiled and very tender – the legendary Café du Palais in Reims city center serves a generous slice of it accompanied by Langres cheese. Also further down south French foodies never pass up the opportunity to pick up some Andouillette AAAAA from Troyes. And, of course, there is the emblematic “biscuits rose” or pink cookies dusted with powdered sugar that so perfectly accompany a glass of rosé or blanc de blanc champagne.
Photos c. by Paige Donner