A Biodynamic Checklist for Pilgrims to Champagne and Loire

Sue and Gwendolyn on the TGV to Champagne -- super fast! Only 30 minutes from the main Paris airport to Reims!

On the TGV to Champagne — super fast! Only 30 minutes from the main Paris airport to Reims! photo c. by Gwendolyn Alley

With the World Wine Tasting Championship coming up this Saturday Oct 12 at Chateau Chambord in the beautiful green Loire Valley in France, the US Team has arrived and is preparing!

Well, at least you think we’d be!

Instead, Sue and I spent four nights in the Champagne region visiting biodynamic producers, vineyards, cellars, and tasting biodynamic still and champagne wines, then we drove to the Loire where we have been tasting — you guessed it– biodynamic cremant and still wines!

Biodynamic wines, while varietally correct, do not always taste like a typical wine. Bonus: you can enjoy more of them as they also do not give a hangover unless you drink WAY too much!

We did spend one evening at a friend’s opening many bottles from around the world with an emphasis on France and older unusual vintages. We did really well with our tasting notes, according to the somm who hosted the small dinner party and tasting.

Practice makes permanent: a few of the wines we tasted and studied last weekend… the Condrieu was a favorite of mine!

What’s wrong with this? Well nothing to be honest! We feel like we already won by winning a place on the US team and thereby winning our plane tickets and accommodations at Chateau  Chambord!

Instead of trying to travel and taste as widely as possible in France of commercial and typical wines, we’ve been Pilgrims on a journey to biodynamic Champagne and Loire.

We’ve lots of notes and photos for many articles to come but for now, I offer up–

A Biodynamic Checklist for Pilgrims — and a quick photo journey to whet your appetite for what’s to come:

Must include at least two cathedrals– bonus if they are called Notre Dame and NOT the one in Paris (although we will go see it before we leave!) Bonus if they are considered one of the most spiritual sites in the world (Chartres).

  • Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims: check.

Sue and I at Notre Dame in Reims

  • Notre Dame Cathedral in Chartre: check.

Sue and I at Notre Dame in Chartres

Must include at least two castles. Bonus if you can walk from where you are staying!

  • Castle in Montreuil-Bellay: check
  • Chateau Chambord: Saturday after the competition

We could see this ancient but refurbished Chateau from where we stayed on the other side of the river! We took a tour one afternoon that while it was in French was still enjoyable.

Must include at least two vineyards, two cellars, two harvests, two markets, and two restaurants that feature biodynamic and organic wine and food!

In Champagne:

  • Biodynamic vineyard visits in Champagne at Vincent Charlot

  • and Phillipe Lancelot

  • Biodynamic vineyard visits in Loire

At Chateau Yvonne with Mattui Vallee

Bonus if you get to visit the vineyard DURING harvest with the winemaker! Mattui Valle inspects and taste the grapes while also directing the harvesters — including his father!!

  • On the crush pad in Champagne


  • On the crush pad in Loire

  • Manoir Tete Rouge  in Puy Notre Dame

  • Biodynamic cellar visits in Champagne

with Cyril Collard — bonus barrel tasting!

and Phillipe Lancelot — bonus barrel tasting (lots of them! from tank–

  • and barrel!


  • and Loire: check.

At Clos des Quatrones


and at Chateau Yvonne


  • Biodynamic wine tastings in Champagne

  • and Loire: check.


Tasting at Chateau Yvonne with lunch with the winemaker, his wife (pictured), and his aunts who help with the cooking during harvest, and a few of his crew

  • Organic meals out in Champagne
  • and Loire: check.


  • Organic meals from markets in Champagneand Loire: check


Bonus: Photos of Father and Son winemakers:

in Champagne:

Champagne, Gaston and Cyril Collard

in Loire– super bonus if you can catch them on camera being silly!

Chateau Yvonne’s winemaker Mattui Valle with his father who is a winemaker in S Nicholas Burgeil

Bonus: Stay in a Troglodite Cave in Loire — Super Bonus with spa and biodynamic bubbles to drink!

the spa at the cave where we stayed the night before two nights at Chateau Chambord


Check check check check!!

Did we do much to prepare for the World Wine Tasting Competition Sat. Oct12 at Chateau Chambord?


Did we WIN? Yes — big time!

The wines that we tasted were wild and wonderful — and off the beaten track when it comes to style.

And so important to us– these winemakers are PASSIONATE about regenerative agriculture. They really want to take care of the land — from the soils to the trees to the birds and the bees!

All are well worth finding! Wherever you are in the world, you too can be on this Pilgrimage of the Palate!

PS Wish us luck on Saturday Oct 12! I understand there are some really nice wines to take home if we do!

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