A couple years ago my husband and I took a short trip to France for Easter. Following a couple days of business in Paris, I booked a lovely carriage house in Champagne for three nights. On our first morning, our French hosts insisted we tour DOMAINE POMMERY in Reims. Reims itself is a city with a mixed history—a bit more industrial than the towns and villages of the Burgundy and Bordeaux regions. The Pommery Estate with its numerous buildings occupies a lot of acreage in the city. The vineyards, however, are elsewhere.
The tour covers the processing part of the operation, the underground caves where the wine is stored, and the bottling. To our surprise, there was also an extraordinary contemporary art installation en route. At each stop we found the paintings or sculptures more interesting than the tour itself—delighting in the lighting, the placement, the surprising juxtapositioning of the edgy art and the ancient industrial architecture. We lingered, bringing up the rear of the group which was eagerly anticipating the Tasting Room at the end of a very long walk.
I’ll never forget the last installation. In a long, softly lit tunnel, the artist had carefully placed electric and acoustical guitars and microphones along the sides with a path down the middle. And among this odd assortment of items, dozens of finches flitted—dancing on strings to make their own music, chirping into microphones that amplified the cheery sounds and broadcast them from speakers in the ceiling. Of course the finches were just going about their bird business, oblivious to the result of their movements and sounds. But for me the cacophony was enchanting!
Eventually we had to leave, to follow the others up monumental stone stairway into the Reception Room and back out into the warm spring sunshine. It was a lovely weekend full of interesting people, and excellent food and wine. Still, whenever I think of Champagne or champagne I will always remember the musical finch magic of Domaine Pommery.