Le Pressoir - a hip spot for wine tasting in Reims, France

If you are young, reckless (with your money that is), and looking to taste wine in Reims, France - Le Pressoir is where it’s at.

It’s expertly run by 2 young guys - barely old enough to sell alcohol.

But hey - I guess some people are just born with the wine knowledge. Makes me go green with envy and red - with pride.

All ready for wine tasting in Reims, France at le PressoirLe Pressoir's absolutely sick cellar. A perfect milieu for wine tasting in Reims, France.
Champagne wine tasting in Reims at le Pressoir wine barNotice the shape of the glasses for drinking Champagne. If you want to look like you are a serious wine drinker - give those flutes away to a friend who drinks mimosas.

Born to wine at Le Pressoir

On the first night in Reims, as we were drunkenly dancing our way home from Aux 3 P'tits Bouchons - we passed by Le Pressoir.

And we immediately knew - this Reims wine bar requires a closer examination.

Not because it looks cool and modern.

Not because we saw familiar natural wine labels through the windows.

Not even because there were cute guys inside. Tempting but no.

What truly attracted us was the jacket that one of the guys was wearing. It had a proud proclamation on the back - “ Born to Wine”

Born to wine jacket at le Pressoir in ChampagneStalking through the window at Le Pressoir. Things I do for the love of wine - born to wine!

Le Pressoir - the feels and the vibes

Le Pressoir is located in the hip area around the Halles du Boulingrin market. I recommend you stay close to here - makes it easier to stumble back home after your natural wine escapades.

Even more relevant since Champagne is no longer a cheerfully light drink. All thanks to global warming.

Champagne with corkage fee at le Pressoir in ChampagneCorkage fee is 10 euros. I think it is $30 CAD in Toronto.

Wine tends to attract an older crowd - people with thirst for finer things in life and an ability to afford them.

But the average age of the clientele at Le Pressoir is decidedly below the statistical mean.

Since the main honchos at Le Pressoir are young and impressive - that’s the wine tasting crowd you get.

It is a very lively and fun natural wine scene. With a pinch of bashfulness that always accompanies young wine lovers. 

Champagne at le Pressoir natural wine bar in ReimsChampagne prices - what a dichotomy. Champagne Tarlant is a very famous and respected natural Champagne producer. Somebody pays those prices!

Light, Action - at Le Pressoir

The place is gorgeous. Very modern and done up.

It’s also unusually spacious by European standards - with high ceilings and sufficient room to move your elbows.

Wine tasting at the table at le Pressoir ChampagneWay too spacious by the French standards. And way too bright. I am not used to looking at what I am eating and drinking when I am in a natural wine bar.

The choice of lighting is peculiar.

The lights are very bright. LED white 600 lumens. Not at all what you expect from a cozy place for wine tasting in Reims, France.

My Californian cousin commented she felt like she was at the gynaecologist appointment.

I get where she’s coming from. But on the other hand - this lighting keeps everyone perked up, even if the wine is starting to get the better of you.

The jewel in the crown - the Cellar

The most striking feature of this Reims wine bar is the incredible cellar.

It is humonguous and very well stocked with some of our faves. I could live down there. It’s so fancy and cozy.

Row of barrels and bottles at le Pressoir in ChampagneSeriously awesome, right? Wish basements in Ontario were as impressive.

The idea is that you go down to the cellar, select a bottle that you like and consume it right here on the premises or take it home to keep and cherish.

A very cool concept because seeing the bottles in their natural habitat is very inspiring.

Cellar entrance at le Pressoir in Reims, ChampagneDown into the cellar we go hoping to discover some skeletons.
Traditional and modern in the wine cellar at Champagne wine bar le PressoirI love this combination of concrete and natural limestone of the cellar. And a little rug to soften it all.

To be fair - most places in Champagne have a cool cellar cut from the signature subsoil of the region - chalky limestone.

We've seen the same idea at Aux 3 P'tits Bouchons. But the cellar at Le Pressoir is the one to rule them all.

Bottles of wine in the cellar at le PressoirGenerals on the parade
Trasitional press in the cellar at le Pressoir wine bar in ReimsTraditional press at le Pressoir. Get it? Some producers still use these suckers cause the extraction is super gentle.

Champagne wine tasting in Reims, France

After three Champagne tours earlier that day, we decided to keep the theme going.

More Champagne!

We were perched up like birds on high chairs around barrels and right behind us was the great wall of Champagne! Grower Champagne in all its glory.

Champagne wine tasting on a barrel at le PressoirSitting around a barrel is romantic and great for insta. But it is the most uncomfortable thing ever. Where do I put my legs, may I ask? The oblong shape of the barrels was useful for rolling them around and loading them onto the ships.

Grower Champagne detour

Champagne is mostly churned out by big Champagne houses who have some vines, but for the majority of their production - they buy the grapes or the juice from Champagne farmers.

Champagne is largely a mass produced overpriced drink that tastes the same every year. What are we paying for again?

Marketing - that's what we're paying for.

Champagne houses have insane marketing budgets and some of the most creative wine campaigns in the wine world.

Veuve Cliquout comes to mind with its invariably orange paraphernalia.

Great Wall of Champagne at le Pressoir in ReimsThe Great Wall of Grower Champagne at le Pressoir - pretty as a poster.

But there is also a large Grower movement - smaller guys who own the vines and sometimes the equipment.

They control the production process from the land all the way to the bottle.

They make unique wines and often parcel-specific - which is also kind of a rule-breaker in Champagne since Champagnes are often a blend of everything and your dog's pee.

Grower Champagne is what you want to drink and support.

You can tell them apart from the vast sea of Champagne blandness by “RM” on the label.

Symposium Aurore & Florian Laval Champagne - back labelIt took me awhile to find it. But you can see two letters RM in the bottom right corner. This means the vines were grown by this Champagne producer.

Be prepared for what you wish for

The great wall of natural Grower Champagne was intimidating. There was a lot to choose from, so we asked for help.

You know us - we always ask for something funky. That’s what we like.

This time, we begged for funky and - we got what we wished for.

Symposium 2020, Aurore & Florian Laval Champagne

Symposium Aurore & Florian Laval Champagne on a barrelSymposium 2020, Aurore & Florian Laval Champagne - looks pretty but it's quite serious

This beautiful wine is 60/40 Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier.

It comes from the region called Vallée de la Marne, just east of Epernay. It runs along the picturesque Marne river. This is Pinot Meunier country.

Residual sugar level is at 3.4g per litre - which is normal for a dry wine, but for Champagne it can be 'pain in a bottle'.

Ox's wisdom: Be careful what you wish for.

When you ask for funky - you just might get it.

It was a serious challenge to our taste buds and vocal chords.

Beautifully aggressive, bitey! A Champagne with the back bone!

It required food - so we got a plate of hummus. Hummus got quickly dissolved in the pool of acid in my stomach.

Tasting Champagne in a Lehmann glassLehmann is the stemware of choice in Champagne. Saw it everywhere.

The producers of this wine are a lovely couple based out of a village called Boursault. A lot of young natural wine makers are popping up in that area.

They work their land organically and biodynamically, with biodiverse cover crops in between the rows of vines.

In the cellar - low intervention, as much as Champagne production allows since it’s such a technical process.

Indigenous fermentation for base wine, aged on lees for 16 months. Lunar cycles are followed to move the wine in the gentlest of ways.

And how cute is that label!

Symposium Aurore & Florian Laval Champagne - front label

From sour to sweet - Ratafia de Champagne

Back to our lovely American cousin from California.

Although she usually drinks everything and anything, even two shots of grappa for lunch earlier in the day - she was not impressed by the biting acidity in this wine.

So we had to counter the effects of acid by ordering Ratafia for her.

Champagne Geoffroy Rataffia tasting at le PressoirLet's repeat the lesson - be careful what you wish for. If you ask for Ratafia - you just might get 5 litres of it.

Ratafia was one of my favourite discoveries in the Champagne region. What a fun drink!

Ratafia is basically grape juice fortified with grape spirit. It is around 18% abv - right up our cousin’s alley.

It is sweet, but not overbearingly so.

The good thing - sugar comes from the grape itself, not from a stevia pack.

Champagne production is strictly regimented, including what kind of juice can be used for wine-making.

Only juice from the first two pressings can be employed to make Champagne.

But since there is still quite a bit of juice left in the skins even after the third and fourth pressings, smaller producers use this juice to make other fun things - like Ratafia de Champagne.

Pouring Ratafia at a natural wine bar in Reims ChampagneAnd another one, because when did our lovely cousin ever stop at just one?

While it is technically made from left-overs, Ratafia can be incredibly delicious and exquisite.

It is also cheap. A 75 ml bottle goes for 20 euros tops.

Ratafia is Champagne’s best-kept secret as far as I’m concerned. It’s the kind of wine you bring over to your grandma’s for dinner - and you stay the night.

We didn’t finish the 5-litre bottle of Ratafia but we did kill a bottle of Champagne and many more wines that the guys at le Pressoir kept coming our way.

Another awesome wine tasting in Reims, France.

Cellar at le Pressoir with girls

Le Pressoir - Champagne wine tasting in Reims, France

21 Rue Henri IV, 51100 Reims, France

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