The Canard-Duchêne estate welcomes you in the village of Ludes, located at the heart of the Montagne de Reims. Away form the city-centre agitation, yet still a stone’s throw away (only a 15-minute ride), the estate in itself is a must-see, for its lovely park only, where admirable trees have stood tall for hundreds of years.
The tour in itself begins with a walk around the vineyard (availabe only in the Spring and in the Summer, and subject to weather conditions). You’ll learn the differences between Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir (types of grapes) and a few anecdotes on how the vines evolved over the years. You then walk down the stairs to the Champagne vat (a lift is also available for disabled people). The champagne vats contain a total of 14 millions bottles, on four levels down. Two of these levels are (partially) open for visit to the public.
The caves, authentically built in limestone 200 years ago, are worth seeing. They are nowadays cleverly designed for a quality tour, which was completed rethought in 2013. The Charles VII brut rosé vintage, for instance, is put under the spotlight thanks to a roses-decorated cellar. Before coming in, you’ll be able to learn some more about the historical context through signs, which depict how signing the Troyes peace treaty turned Charles VII into a penniless and landless king, leaving room for the English – and the Lancaster house in particular, whose emblem is the red rose – to take control of the area. Numerous other vintage wines are aslo part of the exhibition.
On the first level down, you’ll find a specifically visit-oriented cave, presenting some vintage wines and offering a bit of the house’s historical background. This house of champagne was founded by a couple, Victor Canard and Léonie Duchêne, in 1868. Before 1955, a castle (Château de Ludes) stood on the estate. Its ruins are still to be seen in the park today.
The building’s stained-glass windows were restored and can be admired during the tour.
You get a closer look of the bottles of champagne for sale upon coming down the second flight of stairs. The elaboration of the champagne wine and the history of the estate is well presented by the tour guide. Each step of the process is illustrated by a sign, available in both French and English. The tour goes through every step of the making chronologically, thus ending in the final packaging of the bottles. Last, but not least, the tour ends on a champagne tasting.
This is where this house truly stands out.
Indeed, beautiful tulip-shaped glasses are generously filled up. What’s more, you get to choose between 2 options (indicated prices run for 2017) :
• for 17,50 euros : « Authentic tour », including a glass of champagne
• for 22,50 euros : « Charles VII tour », including a 2-glass tasting (to pick among the Charles VII vintage wines)
17,50 or 22,50 euros per adult : tour and tasting (indicated prices for 2017)
Tour without tasting is 5 euros, and children under 12 go in free of charge
Warm clothes are advised, as the temperature in the cellars does not exceed 10 °C
Bookings can also be made on : +33 3 26 61 11 60
Open March – December, Monday to Saturday
Boutique winery open all year round, Monday to Saturday, from 10 am to 6 pm