As one slowly descends the stone steps into the ghostly lit tunnel, the temperature noticeably drops. Your eyes adjust and fall upon rows of wooden A-frames holding thousands of dusty bottles of the world’s most celebrated drink.
The underground crayères (chalk pit cellars) of Champagne Taittinger in Reims, in the heart of northeastern France’s Champagne region, were originally carved out by the Gallo-Romans in the 4th century, and later used by the Benedictine monks of Saint Nicaise Abbey in the 13th century. They have lost none of their mystique over the centuries.
Synonymous with luxury and glamour, and coveted by royalty and rap stars alike, champagne seduces long before the cork is popped. Perhaps it’s the unyielding Gallic embrace of traditional techniques – machines are forbidden, with all grapes harvested by hand at a time dictated by the region’s Champagne Bureau – or the slick and sexy marketing campaigns of the world-famous brands such as Taittinger and Moët & Chandon.
Published in South China Morning Post Style magazine. Copyright South China Morning Post.