Is the aromatics tour at Maison Veuve Clicquot worth it? The answer is 1000% YES. As much as I love Veuve and knew I wanted to tour regardless, I wasn’t sure what the experience would be like because honestly so many of the higher end champagne and wine tours can be stuffy or underwhelming. Our experience was anything but, it was truly incredible and possibly my favorite wine tour I’ve ever done. We did pay the premium for the aromatics tour, which was $150 euro pp, but we didn’t just learn about the aromas in a boring speech… we went the the garden and actually smelled and tasted, had a whole aroma presentation as well as a sensory video experience in the chalk caves which was all before our actual tasting began. The whole experience was very laid back, our guide was informative and promised us no questions were bad questions. We learned about the history (side note, Madame Clicquot is a bad b*tch who pioneered so many champagne production practices), we drank lots of champagne, we laughed and honestly just had the best time. So many tours leave you feeling a sense of that was fun but now I’ve “been there done that” and both Jason and I left saying we can’t wait to go back. Hopefully next time we’ll get some sunshine and be able to explore the vineyards!
If you’re just here to find out the highlights and if you should go, I hope you got your answer above as I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises, but if you want more information or just to read more about our experience keep reading below for lots more detail and photos!
OK, let’s just start with the lobby. How beautiful is this? It’s always all in the details for me, and Veuve just gets that.
The sensory tour starts off with a visit to the aromatics garden… a whole garden dedicated to planting herbs and flowers and berries that are present in the champagne’s aromas. The guide walked us through and allowed us to pull off leaves and smell things and even try some of the berries.
We were even provided fabulous umbrellas to use in the garden since it was raining so much the day we went! Like I said, they get the details right.
From there we went into an indoor space in the garden where we were learned about the different champagnes we would taste that day. While I’m sure this varies depending on the year, we tried the 2012 and 1989 vintage yellow label as well as the 2012 and 1990 rose. Once we learned about these and the history of the champagne house we were presented with different oils, jams, and so on that were aromas and tasting notes of what we would later taste and were able to guess what they were as well as try them with fresh breads. This was so fun and such a unique experience as we guessed and guessed until we finally got them all right! Something a little more interactive than listen and learn always takes a tour up a notch in my opinion.
After the whole aromatic gardens experience we were led down into the chalk caves, and yes the walls below are actually made of natural chalk. Chalk runs through the soil of the champagne region and is considered a benefit to the grapes as it holds and releases moisture as needed. While I was originally bummed it was raining it actually ended up being a really neat experience as the walls of the caves were soaked with rain water and we were able to feel how it made the chalk walls soft and see water dripping in certain areas.
We were guided through the pretty extensive caves, learning along the way (including a video that incorporated barrels as part of the projector display, and even had scents blasted through the room to pair with the video), and last but not certainly not least, our tasting cellar.
FINALLY WE’RE DRINKING CHAMPAGNE. The pours were fabulous for a tasting, almost a full glass of each of the four we learned about earlier in the tour. We were also provided with cheese pairings, some of them freshly shaved off the block in front of us. We were given a decent amount of time here where we just had great conversation and were able to ask lots of questions.
Please note that I had already eaten half my cheese and drank some champagne from each glass in the below photo… got a little excited and carried away before remembering to photograph. : ) The glasses were fuller and the presentation was nicer than appears, ha!
To end the tour you exit the caves using a staircase that takes you to the gift shop and basic tasting room. The years on each stair represent the years that special vintages have been produced by the maison.
Let’s not talk about everything I purchased at the gift shop, my very loving husband encouraged a champagne filled me to “go wild”… and yes, that included an umbrella.
Oh, and this air stream, it’s a cute outdoor bar when it’s not raining! Adding to the list of things to do when I go back one day!
If you ever go on this tour, or have been before, I’d love to hear about your experience!