Walking around Reims…life is but a Dreim

Just look at these clouds, it was like we were in a painting. It was hot and muggy but what a cute city center to walk around in. It’s a big city in France but feels more like a ‘little big city’ in the US, comparable to some of the hipster neighborhood in Philadelphia for example due to the 1800’s city planning grid. Very walkable and not as overwhelming as Paris.

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Since we missed out on more cave and chateaux tours, we just freestyled this day with no plans. We saw the Notre Dame in the town center, which is a mini-version of the one in Paris. We stumbled across an amazing biodynamic wine/cheese and charcuterie store called Au Bon Manger owned by a French Vietnamese chick who was super cool.

Ultimately ended the day at Le Cave de Sacre where I bought a case of older amazing vintages of rare champagnes totaling the price of a used car. I had hell to pay for it with an earful from Erika, but it was my 40th B-day so I was riding that excuse to the bank, more like bankruptcy court.

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The intricate details on this building were quite a sight to see. Looked like a fenestrated paper mache flag. Jaw-dropping Gothicism.

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Here is the right/front plaza of the church seen below. I can just imagine the real estate with cathedral views has sky-rocketed as this city has become less sleepy over the years.

Here is the inside of the church.

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Super gothic spires, amazing stained glass.

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I also enjoyed the soft/serene music playing inside. It was more like a museum in my experience than a church.

What fascinated me about the stained glass was that it was done by the famous French Cubist painter Marc Chagall. I did not know that this painter was still alive during my lifetime. He died in 1985 at almost 100 years old. I forget that he was a contemporary of Picasso and Matisse.

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Here is a mini-replica of the church.

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The back of the church was just as intricate and amazing with the flying buttresses.

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The view below is the side view of the building. Attention to detail continues all the way around, like a giant jewel box.

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We just wandered around this picturesque old town area.

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Ok, enough tourist shit, where’s the food??

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What an old-school butcher shop. If this was in Paris, some Vegan-nazi would have spray painted ‘murderer’ on the outside of the store. What a meat lover’s heaven this place was, especially after the contrasting dinner at Clos de Sens.

This was probably my favorite food item of the entire trip. Museau de Boeuf. I had never had this before. It was basically beef muzzle. So gooey and cartilaginous, OMFG!

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Took this to go for the biodynamic wine store that, little to my knowledge, we were about to stumble across momentarily.

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Talk about fresh corner store butcher. This only exists in hipster-town, in parts of the US, but this was where all the old grannies were coming to get their meat. I love it! Like going back in time, when I would go to the butcher shop with my grandma and great grandma and hear the sounds of the meat slicer and smell all the smoked meat.

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Contrary to big superstore chains, this is not inhumane, this guy runs a small family business, knows all his customers by name, serves the locals their daily meat, and uses every cut of the animal where nothing is wasted.

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He’s also an artisan and a craftsman in this technological world, where no one has any manual skills anymore.

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I just ate this ham sliced straight off the bone. There was a giant leg sitting on the counter and I just asked for a slice on top of wax paper. Jambon de L’os. Ham on the bone basically.

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We took this slice to Au Bon Manger which was several blocks away in this historic block.

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We walked into this place and immediately felt as though we had reunited with a long lost friend. We just ordered a couple of slices of cheese, and before you know it, we opened the cold cuts, the owner closed the shop for lunch, opened a bottle of wine for all of us, with a roasted lamb shank that she and her staff were preparing for their own lunch. Instant party! It was the nicest and most spontaneous thing that happened to us on our trip. This is why you leave certain days unplanned in your trip, to go any way the wind blows that day. We highly recommend this place.

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Randomly walked in here. Had no idea we’d be having a full-blown lunch with the owner.

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I should buy this sign to hang at the social skills group for my adolescent Autistic patients.

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Super stinky Livarot, and just look at that Morbier with the mold vein going down the middle. Real extra-old Mimolette with the cheese mites intact. Thank God! Does the US have to ban everything that tastes good? Mimolette, Foie Gras, etc.

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The Jambon d’Los. Bring on the baguette.

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Look how ‘country’ that ham looks, no smooth uniformity at all.

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Pure Poirre William juice.

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Best impromptu lunch ever!

Now for the Cave Du Sacre…we headed back to the town center to make the biggest purchase of the trip, and one I am still paying for on my AMEX bill.

Here’s their website.


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Though this place may not be the best bargain, they do ship everything all at once, with temperature-controlled delivery, and with no duties to the US. I would rather pay a little more for the piece of mind, convenience, and to get some rare bottles that, though might be more expensive, are nowhere else to be found.

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Their variety was mind-boggling. I’ve never seen so much champagne all at once.

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Here are my little babies. They arrived safe and sound.

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Several reviews I read kept saying that this was beside 1990, the greatest vintage of Cristal. Here is a critic who scored this 98 points. The only negative was that he drank it too young. Note to self. This one will go in the back of the wine fridge for at least 5 years.

This is an exceptional wine, as is the vintage. The fruits—grapefruit, crisp red apple—balance with a fine yeasty character. There is a great depth of flavor, the fruits going in a pure line of freshness. The one problem is that it is much too young, the result of the demand from the market for the next vintage. Age this wine for at least four years.

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Wow, can’t wait to try this. This is what one review said,

Well, this evening’s biggest surprise!! Run out and buy it cause to me it’s so bloody underrated, and right now a world-class top performer..no doubt peaking at this moment, so ready to go! Gun smoking John Wayne nose with bullets dipped in garlic, brioche with ripe apple, white flower power, nutty honey apricot pear with and earthquaking sour sweet Tom Collins finish..a big wine right now with an ok pricetag …. amazing effort in 97!

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This ’96 Dom Ruinart was the first of the lamb to be sacrificed, and oh was it good. It was so perfectly balanced, acid, sweet and toasty flavors all equally dominating. It had some prune notes almost on the reduced side of the spectrum. 1996 was a spectacular vintage for champagne. It was very burgundy-like with a crushed/dried violet nose almost.

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Here is one that sounds like a show stopper. Read this review on this puppy.


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This ’96 Billecart is the Cuvee Nicolas which score higher than the other 96’s at 95 points.

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Another 97 pointer. Here are the notes on this bad boy.

Winemaker Notes

Dom Perignon P2 1999 Vintage is the second release of Dom Perignon which happens 10 years after the launch of the first release. Its complexity brings a sensory chiaroscuro, juxtaposing fruit and ripeness. Warm, mineral, cocoa and smoked peat notes converse with the more delicate character of a dried flower and candied tropical fruit. The overall sensation is enhanced with touches of peppery wood. On the palate, the opening beams instantly and strikes a joyful major chord. The body is lively, with umami resonating and sculpting the contours of the wine. Surprisingly fruity, the middle palate is characteristic of the vintage. The finish is tactile, with saline toasted notes.

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This seems to be my rarest bottle so far, costs like $600-700, and the vineyard that produced these grapes doesn’t even exist anymore. After this is drunk it will become an ephemeral fleeting memory. Here is a website describing this one.


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My birth year. 40-year-old champagne. I could not even find this bottle on any google search. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

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Pol Roger, Winston Churchill’s champagne of choice.

Here are the only reliable tasting notes I found on this.

95 points Wine Spectator: “Sophisticated, lively and flavorful. Has wonderful pastry shop aromas and vibrant fruit that lingers on the finish. Multidimensional and delicious.” (10/1999) 92 points Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar: “Flamboyant, ripe, complex aromas of citrus oil, butterscotch, toast, spice and pit fruits. Very intensely flavored and penetrating, with a ripe, almost roasted suggestion of peach supported by vibrant acids. Yet quite unevolved and laid-back today, with a very dry, almost painfully young but very long finish. Has the structure to age. 92+ (ST)” (12/1999)

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This will probably be the next bottle I open when the occasion arises. Here are the tasting notes on this 96 pointer from a critic:

This Champagne is produced for the Bordeaux Rothschild families to serve at events in their chateaus (Mouton, Lafite, Clarke). It is a beautiful wine that manages to be both rich and tightly textured with minerality, crisp apple flavor and a hint of toast balances all elements so well. A limited amount is available outside the family circuit.

Here is the description from the winery itself:

The Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2006 expresses its full beauty in its gleaming, silky robe, a legacy of the Chardonnay that reveals freshness and generosity. Boasting an inimitable sparkle and a persistent cordon of delicate bubbles accompanied by crystalline gold tints, it reveals pear and dried fruit aromas in the nose.

The attack in the mouth is precise and clear, with a distinguished mineral smoothness and citrus and white peach notes. The fruit is in evidence throughout and signs off a final where fresh almond notes blend with light brioche accents.

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This is 100% Meunier grapes for this 1969 Heritage. They bottled extremely limited quantities of some of their legendary vintages. I think this bottle cost like $400. I didn’t understand why it was in a new bottle, but it was part of a special release from the chateaux celebrating their 100th anniversary, so they bottled wines from different historical vintages.

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And here is a bottle so fancy that it has its own case. It’s not enough that you know that it is a rare bottle, it has to say that as well in big letters on the case.

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I carried this damn case, empty, around with me for the rest of our trip as they would not ship it with the bottles.

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It even comes with a golden thermometer/cork that you stick in the bottle after it’s opened to make sure it is served at the perfect temperature of 8 degrees.

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I’m afraid to open this bottle. It has to be a super fancy occasion where the press is there to document this momentous occasion. Here is the review on Wine Spectator:

Critical Acclaim

Wine Spectator
Intense, yet retains the elegance and verve characteristic of the 1988 vintage. This is showing roasted elements of coffee, hazelnut, and citrus confit, with a freshness and long brioche-tinged finish. Very vinous and dry, it’s like a great white Burgundy with bubbles. Drink now through 2005. 400 cases imported.

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Here is the money shot.

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Bam, $5000.00 sitting on my kitchen counter. I literally will be pissing this money away. I am limiting myself to one bottle a year if that, and only special occasions. I want bragging rights for at least ten years. Then for my 50th birthday, I will have to outdo myself.

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