There are a few perks to working in the wine trade. A businessman has just taken me to Champagne to accompany him on a tour of villages, top houses and small growers - the purpose, to see if he is interested in investing in the region. Now clearly there are people far more qualified than I to pull back the curtain on this iconic region, but, I couldn't resit the opportunity.
We started out in fine style. A trip to Moet, and a tour through the winding underground cellars. Greeting us at the end were a drop of the vintage 2004 and the Rose from the same crop.
It can be tempting to leave visiting vineyards and producers for the warmer, summer months. But doing so only reveals a part of the story. Seeing Champagne in its wet and windy state reminds one of just how much of a marginal climate growing area this is. Champagne is so admired because of the way Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meaunier retain their acidity.
We stopped off in Epernay for a large splurge on Rose Champagne.
There are plenty of small wine shops and tasting venues in the centre of Epernay. We dropped into one just around the corner from Avenue de Champagne.