Gourmet Fair

It’s Champagne Time with Pommery and a New Art Experience

The Pommery Estate in Reims, France. Photo©Cecil Mathieu. Courtesy Pommery. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Reims, France — It is always an imposing and sweeping site turning into the wide driveway of the 19th century Pommery Estate in Reims in the heart of Champagne country. It is in fact one of those great champagne moments. Inside not only exceptional bottles of champagne and fine tours and why not a master class await, but an unparalleled art experience as well because for 20 years the group Vranken-Pommery Metropole under the helm of Paul-François and Nathalie Vranken has ardently supported and exhibited art.

Expérience Pommery #16 Rêveries, Choi Yeong Hwa, Fruit tree. ©Ballade Studio. Photo courtesy Pommery. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The house has, since 2003, hosted a Pommery Experience contemporary art exhibition in the depths of its in-activity Gallo-Roman cellars which are 98 feet (30 meters) underground. The journey continues above ground in a gallery space in the Cellier Pompadour, the house’s historic storeroom, devoted to carefully curated temporary shows juxtaposing the contemporary art from artists linked to the Pommery Estate with older works emanating from the exceptional collections of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Reims (The Fine Arts Museum of Reims) which is currently closed for renovations.

Expérience Pommery #16 Rêveries, Matteo Nasini, Sparkling Matter, sculptures that the artist calls decorative dreams. ©Ballade Studio. Photo courtesy Pommery. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

For a totally unusual and unique art and champagne experience, you can explore the spectacular 11 miles (18 kilometers) of chalk cellars of the house of Pommery . The cathedral-like lofty cellars are currently hosting Rêveries, Experience Pommery #16, rêverie means day dream, an artful art show devoted to contemporary art in the various alcôves and tunnels of the house’s extensive, deep and working cellars, a journey into a mysterious labyrinth, which comes alive with and is the perfect setting for diverse works of art in various mediums by 57 artists from all over the world.

Expérience Pommery #16 Rêveries, Tsai & Yoshikawa, Pop Blooms and Stars series in the monumental staircase. ©Ballade Studio. Photo courtesy Pommery. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The exhibition is visible only once the monumental staircase of 116 steps has been descended and the staircase is an art experience in and of itself with the majestic ceiling adorned with the colorful and dreamy installation art works of the London-based artists Hsiao-Chi Tsai and Kimiya Yoshikawa, which draw their inspiration from nature. Surprises await at each turn down a gallery. There is the colorful fruit tree of Seoul-based artist Jeong Hwa Choi and the whimsical photographs from the French artists Philippe Ramette and Marc Domage, unpredictable and unimaginable but which continue the journey into day dream land.

Expérience Pommery #16 Rêveries, Stéphane Thidet, Souffle (Breeze). ©Ballade Studio. Photo courtesy Pommery. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The journey continues above ground in a gallery space in the Cellier Pompadour, the house’s historic storeroom, devoted to carefully curated temporary shows juxtaposing the contemporary art from artists linked to the Pommery Estate with older works emanating from the exceptional collections of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Reims (The Fine Arts Museum of Reims) which is currently closed for renovations. The splendid Dahlia Bed of the great French art and craftsman Emile Gallé, a pioneer of the Art Nouveau movement sits opposite a contemporary bed for dreaming created by French artists Florence Doléac and Maximum. The intriguing Sphinx by the contemporary Chicago-based artist Autumn Ramsey is juxtaposed with a masterwork by Henri Fantin-Latour.

The 19th century Dahlia Bed by Emile Gallé, Expérience Pommery #16 Rêveries, Cellier Pompadour. ©Ballade Studio. Collection Musée des Beaux Arts de Reims. Photo courtesy Pommery. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The exhibition is conceived by Nathalie Vranken and the current show Pommery Experience #16 was curated by Fabrice Bousteau, Catherine Delot and Judicaël Lavrador. The Pommery guides are especially trained to guide you through the exhibition as well as the activities of the cellar. And afterwards, once you come out of the cellars and the Pommery experience, you can enjoy a glass of refreshing champagne as part of the tour.

The cellars of the Pommery Estate. Photo©Fred Laures. Courtesy Pommery. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

And beyond the original art experiences at Pommery, the estate itself offers a world filled with secret venues, delicious champagnes and fine gourmet dining. Here when Madame Pommery, first name Jeanne-Alexandrine known as Louise, took over the reins of the estate in 1858 upon the death of her husband, she set out to create a unique place, a place carved indelibly into the landscape of Champagne country. She planted acres upon acres of vineyards, making the estate the owner of one of the major vineyards in the region. She also purchased the walled 25-hectare Clos Pompadour, nestled right in the city of Reims. She was a woman ahead of her times for the estate was already open to visitors in 1878 who could explore the 18 kilometers of tunnels some 30 meters underground.

Expérience Pommery #16 Rêveries, Cellier Pompadour. The main art work in the photo is by the contemporary artist Christian Hidaka and is entitled Players. ©Ballade Studio. Photo courtesy Pommery. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

But in 1874, she was behind another innovation, perhaps even revolution in Champagne country when she asked her cellar master to create a champagne, regarded as the first brut champagne, that was low in added sugar content and the Pommery Nature was born, a precursor for the champagnes that are coming highly into vogue today in the region. But after an art-filled morning and tasting, step into the estate’s Le Réfectoire restaurant serving classics of the French gastronomic repertoire (reservations more than recommended). Fine champagnes produced by the house include the Cuvée Louise 2005 Vintage, an exceptional champagne produced solely from wines from 2005 emanating from the Grand Crus growing regions of Aÿ, Avize and Cramant and aged for six to eight years. Another vintage champagne produced by the house is the Grand Cru Royal Millésimé 2008 Vintage. There is also the non-vintage and highly refreshing Brut Royale.

The vineyards of Pommery. Courtesy Pommery. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Across the way is the Villa Demoiselle of the estate’s sister domain, Vranken, an ode to Art Nouveau which can also be visited.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette

Exhibition until November 8th.
Domaine Vranken-Pommery
5 place Général Gouraud51100 Reims, FranceReservations: +33(0)3 26 61 62 56 http://www.vrankenpommery.com
https://www.champagnepommery.com

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