A Look Inside the Ancient Underground Tunnels Housing Some of the World’s Finest Champagne; Mary Winston Nicklin; VinePair

France – Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars

Go below the glam Maison Charles Heidsieck in Champagne to a vast network of ancient caves aging some of the world’s best bubbles.

A hundred and six steps below the Maison Charles Heidsieck in the city of Reims lies a vast underground world. The crayères — a network of cavernous chambers hewn from ancient Gallo-Romain quarries — is the prized place for aging Champagnes in perfect conditions (dark, humid, and a constant 10 degrees Celsius).

Today these crayères are home to Charles Heidsieck’s cellars. The historic house was started by Champagne Charlie, the man credited with introducing Champagne to America (among other things).

In 1867, Charles Heidsieck made a fortuitous decision to buy his very own chalk galleries. Today the grande marque Maison is one of only five Champagne houses to own cellars in the crayères — named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015.

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