Personally, we find the best way to buy our Champagnes are direct from the producer. However, this is not always possible and thankfully there are a good number of shops in the region that will happily fill the last remaining inches of boot space.
We touched on a few really good little shops in the 'Visiting Champagne' article which specialise in grower/producer wines and some of the rarer and more interesting houses. Whilst it is the general rule that you will find houses selling you their wines slightly cheaper than in the shops, you will sometimes be surprised to find a shop will on the odd occasion be cheaper themselves. For more common cuvées it is certainly worth checking prices from shop to shop as they can differ quite a bit.
Both La Vinocave and Les Délices Champenoises have a good range of champagnes from Négociants and Récoltants as well as the odd better Coopérative. Both shops can offer good and up to date advice.
Cave des Sacres has an extensive range of Récoltant champagnes and is the perfect place to shop if you are visiting Reims but do not have the time to visit the villages. They also have a good range of Négociant champagnes as well as their own œnothèque where you can find sumptous prestige cuvées. A walk around this excellent shop is like taking a miniature tour of Champagne. Les Caves du Forum is another shop which has an excellent range of top-quality producers. Le Vintage is another shop that offers a good range of big house and smaller producers.
Salvatori in Épernay is an Aladdin's cave of champagne. Here you will find all manner of producers and an excellent array of prestige cuvées. You will also find some of the more interesting producers that are often hard to find. The lovely, elderly Mme Salvatori does have a printed price list but use this as a guide as it does not always correlate with the actual stock at the time. Be prepared to hunt as this wonderful little shop is packed to the rafters!
Sadly, Mme Salvatori passed away in February 2016, our thoughts are with her family.
Also in Épernay is Le 520. This shop stocks some prestige vintages from the best of the bigger houses. However, it is the vast range of the very best of the best artisan champagnes that sets this shop apart from the rest. It has the added bonus of offering free tastings of a designated house on certain Saturdays.
Please click on the images to enlarge
La Vinocave - 43, Place Drouet d'Erlon, Reims. Cave des Sacres - 7, Place Cardinal Lucon, Reims.
Les Délices Champenoises - 2, Rue Rockefeller, Reims. Salvatori - 11, Rue Flodoard, Épernay.
Les Caves du Forum - 10, Rue Courmeaux, Reims.
Le 520, 1, Avenue Paul Chandon, Épernay.