Travel through Mercier’s cellars on a driverless train
Discover the House’s heritage, thirty metres beneath the chalky soil of Epernay. Board the Mercier train to travel through a section of the 18 kilometres of single-storey cellars and discover the bas-relief carvings by sculptor Gustave Navlet. Discover the thousands of bottles nestling in our maze of cellars. The founder is no other than Eugène Mercier imagine 20 years old when he started this entreprise. Somehow he managed to associate 4 others to develop this house with their money, yet keep his name! Innovation and creativity kept Eugène’s imagination running at full speed for decades. No one else in Champage had the drive to make this joyous sparkling wine available to all types of people.
Take a look at their site, very well done Mercier.
It took around 7 years to get the cellars up to peak operational performance. Dug by hand, all on the same level (unique in Champagne), 30m deep, parallel galleries, and the longest tunnel in the region, 1km long, actually joining their brand leader Moët & Chandon at the end of avenue de Champagne.
Not only that but having the cellars at track levels transport was easy for their 6 millions bottles per year.
Mercier Champagne won awards at almost every completion they attended, and with Eugène Mercier’s insistance that Champagne be promoted to the masses took his brand far to world expositions, balloon trips, car racing and more. Actually they even had a car race in their cellars! They were the very first to decorate their cellars with sculptures and art, and more importantly invite the public to explore their cellars as early as 1879.
It is a real production site, although not the only one today. You’ll see tractors and machines working on storing the bottles putting them in place for a long time to develop flavours. Removed only after the time is right to be disgorged on the same facilities. They say to look to the right where if you are fast enough you’ll see a long tunnel “the Imperial Gallery” that has no end. It does actually at Moet & Chandon, but it is past the hill where Pol Roger is!
You’ll be touring on an electric self guided train with a guide that ensures your safety, yet you’ll have a quality headset to listen to your preferred language; an audioguide: French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Russian.
Presentation of a short film introduces you to the house, history, and current direction. It is a lively film, fun and in good taste(pun intended). Then off to a time travel elevator, which has projection of the past. Quite a show you’ll appreciate.
Once on the train, sit back and enjoy these cellars as you’ll not find anything like it! There are some highlights that are mentioned like Miss Mercier sculpture but they won’t tell you about the charred chalk at her feet from a fire they had in the past. I love that sculpture very daring at the time and still modern to this day. Eugène Mercier loved art, it shows everything about his life and his house.
A little tip when you are in the cellars; on the end of the rows you’ll always have a panel with some secret information (only the cellar masters will know) yet one valuable field is there: the number of bottles in that row. I have seen up to 230000 bottles in some rows! Can you imagine?
After the tour you’ll celebrate the end with everyone’s favourite bubbles, with a sommelier. Ask as many questions as you have, about what food goes with this one what goes with another, temperature to be served and any other details, like how to hold a glass, how to taste like a pro. Most miss this opportunity, you don’t have to.