So. I don’t want to sound like a whiner, because I’m in Champagne! Drinking Champagne! Tromping through Champagne vineyards, during harvest, visiting with winemakers who have a billion more important things to do, and learning so much. It’s nothing short of amazing.

But. One of my colleagues dubbed this trip the Champagne Death March, because the schedule is brutal. We start at 9 a.m. and go nonstop until after 11 p.m. every single day. There’s barely time to use the bathroom, let alone collect your thoughts or check email. Instead of freshening up for dinner, we all straggle in looking like death warmed over. Any email-checking or thought-gathering or blogging or tweeting has to happen after a full day of Champagne-tasting and running around from House to House until they’re such a blur you can’t even remember which is which or where you were last.

I doubt that the Champagne bureau meant for us to die. They surely just wanted us to visit as many places as possible while we were here. But they’ve decided, next time, to build in a bit of down time. Lucky people on the next trip.

In the meantime, I have tons of great photos, but I’ll just share a few from the past few days.

We’ve been walking and standing non-stop. My feet are killing me, and I’m not even wearing these things.

 

I’m trying to branch out with my eating habits. I don’t know what this was, but it tasted like chicken, and the mushroom sauce was di-vine.

 

Every meal is finished with a cheese course. The middle one was an aged goat cheese. It was incredibly creamy, yet a little hard from aging. Mmmm.

 

We’ve tasted 20+ wines a day, so you have to spit, and leave lots of gorgeous Champagne behind. So sad.

 

Some wines weren’t hard to leave behind. (That said, in Champagne, it’s a matter of degree. At home, I would totally drink these.)

 

Others were so good that I couldn’t spit a single drop. (That’s the winemaker in the background. I’ve already decided to set Kate up with his 16-year-old son so I can be a Champagne MIL.)

 

Here’s a cool exercise we did last night. The winemaker uncorked a series of non-vintage Champagnes. The only difference was the disgorgement date (the date the old yeast is taken out and the wine topped off and sealed with the cork). From oldest to youngest, left to right, the wines tasted like stewed fruit and honey, all the way to fresh and light. The inside of the cork shrinks as the wine is older, too. The lesson: even non-vintage Champagne can age into something spectacular.

Tomorrow is slightly less of a Death March. We get 45 minutes of free time, which will end up being 5 because we’re in Europe, and I will use it to dash to the chocolate shop to get some treats for my girls. For now, I’m off to bed. Good night.