France’s world-renowned Champagne country was recently recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. If you’re planning a trip to the historic towns and vineyards—easily accessible in just over an hour from Paris—we highly recommend adding this stop to your itinerary. The village of Essoyes was a source of inspiration for Pierre-August Renoir, one of the greatest painters in French history. It was here where the artist lived for almost 20 years, and today the family home has been transformed into a museum.
Here at the “Espace des Renoir” and the Painter’s Workshop, visitors can walk in the artist’s footsteps and discover his former haunts. “I liked being around the wine growers because they’re so generous,” Renoir famously said, so it’s quite fitting that a new exhibition– running through the end of August– should pair his great works with great champagnes. After all, much of the same language is used to describe artwork and wine. For years, top oenologues have employed a painter’s imagery (and the palette of colors) in describing the effervescent wine of the Champagne region. And for fans of both fine art and fine wines, Renoir paintings and Champagne is a match made in heaven.
Under the patronage of Madame Sophie Renoir, top sommeliers and experts were invited to be part of the Tasting Committee. Members included: Frédéric Bouche (Sommelier chef at “l’Assiette Champenoise” in Reims), Yves Chappier (President of the “Association des Sommeliers de Champagne,”) Alain Cintrat (Mayor of Essoyes), Alexis Goujard (“La Revue du Vin de France”), Dominique Hutin (Television presenter from the show “On Va Déguster!”- France Inter), Gauthier Larmolette (Sommelier at “l’Assiette Champenoise” in Reims), Quitterie Mora (Oenologist), Philippe Narcy (Oenologist), Alexandre Onnavoy (Oenologist), Olivier Rigot (Oenologist) and Philippe Talbot (Oenologist).
Here’s an example of one of the Champagne-painting pairings:
Dance in the Country, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Oil on canvas – 1883
Cuvée La Grande Sendrée, Champagne Drappier
A couple dancing, happiness takes hold, just like with this cuvée, made from a wonderful vintage, now perfectly mature.
This champagne offers a complex and sophisticated bouquet, combining aromas of crystallized fruits and croissants. You can feel the cool little breeze from the waved fan in the burst of freshness from the wine in your mouth.
Those curves supported by the partner’s strong shoulders represent a balanced and structured blend. This cuvée is sensual and festive, just like this “Dance in the Country”. Aline is smiling at us, looking straight into our eyes, proud of her Champagne origins, and conveying her joie de vivre.
This generous wine does exactly the same…
And, for that exceptionally famous work, Luncheon of the Boating Party (oil on canvas, 1880-1881), here’s the champagne match:
Cuvée Louis-Aristide, Champagne Rémy Massion & Fils
This thoroughly accomplished cuvée, made from a multitude of pinot noir grape harvests, patiently pampered in the cellars of the Rémy Massin & Fils champagne house, is now at last brought to light.
Amidst a feeling of serenity and festivity, Its golden colour releases a whole gallery of aromas… quince, vanilla, and jellied and dried fruits.
Here the women are elegant, fresh and happy. This is a charmer of a wine, like the men at the luncheon, sure of themselves, confident of their powers of seduction.
Its long finish ends in a delicious finale. A great wine for a major work of art.
For more information about visiting the Côté des Renoir, visit www.renoir-essoyes.com. Tel: + 33 (0)3-25-29-10-94. Email: [email protected]