glass of white wine on wooden table

Eating & drinking in Reims

It was three summers ago that I was sitting one evening around a table in Koko Doko in Reims, the champagne capital of France, with Clos Driver Wine Tours, grower champagne producer Emmanuel Brochet, and a couple of other champagne aficionados. . 

Koko Doko is Japanese for ‘Where is this?‘ It’s the sister, bistro restaurant of Racine (two Michelin stars). Both are the creation of Japanese-born chef Kazuyuki Tanaka.

The menu arrived that day in summer 2017 as an origami – well, a crumpled origami. What did I eat? Salmon cannelloni with wasabi, followed by cod en escabeche and blancmange with coconut.

The menu, Doko Koko, Rheims, France

Drinking Burgundy in Champagne

In my hand was a glass of Le Clou 34, a no-sulphur wine from Burgundy producer Claire Naudin. Yes, Magny-lès-Villers, home to Domaine Naudin-Ferrand, on the Côte d’Or escarpment, just north of Beaune, is over three hours’ drive south of Reims, but a glass of Le Clou 35 felt right on the night.

Le Clou is the local dialect for ‘clos’, the stone vineyard enclosures in Burgundy, and 34 refers to the date when the Aligote vines were planted.

Label, Claire Naudin, Doko Koko, Reims, France

From Le Clou 34 to Naudin 017

Three years on, and I am sitting in my garden (see the featured image) revisiting my memories of eating and drinking in Reims. In my hand is a glass of Naudin 017, previously hidden at the back of my cave, and due to be enjoyed a year ago.  Yes, it was fuller, richer than possibly it used to be… but fine by me, and still ever so slightly pétillant. It was also as close as I’ll be getting to an August holiday.

It is a warm, reassuring feeling to sample the wine of a producer whose family roots stretch back to labouring in the fields of Burgundy in 1500, and whose family has been making wine since the 19th century. (A bit like the feeling you get from marvelling at historic buildings.)

The domaine’s 22 hectares include the crus of Aloxe, Ladoi, Echezeaux and Nuit-Saint-Georges, as well as regional appellations.

My non-cru Naudin 017 was a bottle that I had bought in Les Caves du Pantheon, in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, my go-to place to buy natural wine in the French capital, and where I fill up my camera case – big, sturdy and easy to transport – with bottles each time I visit the French capital.

Restaurants in Reims

Back to Reims. Covid-19 lockdown or no-lockdown, French opening hours are a jungle to navigate, especially outside Paris, and especially on Sundays and Mondays, and sometimes even on Tuesdays. So check before you start to dream about what you’re going to experience. My recommendations are:

L’Assiette Champenoise by Arnaud Lallement – 3 Michelin stars. A taxi ride away in the suburb of Tinqueux. Well worth the experience, especially at lunch time. Also a hotel.

Les Crayères – a Relais et Châteaux hotel with a 2 Michelin-starred restaurant.

Le Bocal – a fun fish & seafood restaurant behind the Poissonnerie des Halles market.

Epicerie Au Bon Manger –  an épicerie with tables for grower champagne, natural wines and heart-warming food. Madame used to work in fashion and Monsieur in radio.

Au Cul de Poule – a bistro with a cuisine ‘faite masion’ and ‘faite avec amour’, homemade and made with love.

Le Glue Pot – the wine bar hang-out for many a grower. Great wine list. Our plate of charcuturie served as supper. Open until 2am every day apart from Sunday. Overlooking a square with tables outside.

Claire Naudin in Burgundy

I took this photo on my visit to the Domain Naudin-Ferrand with Clos Driver Wine Tours back in 2017. To meet the producer, especially one who works with nature, is always an honour, and brings special joy when I drink her wines.

Claire Naudin, wine producer, France

I took this photo on my visit to Domaine Naudin-Ferrand with Clos Driver Wine Tours in 2017. To meet a producer who works with nature is always an honour, and brings a special joy when I later find their wines on menus or in stores.

I took the pictures in this post in 2017, unless indicated. In my blog, I look to have no more than 150 posts carefully curated with curiosity. When life comes round again, I revisit, respark & repost them. I also recheck all recommendations.

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