HEC Paris MBA students in the Leclerc-Mondet vineyard (photo courtesy Bernice Lee, MBA '22)

Caves, Cuvées and €160 Bottles of Bubbly: A Trek to France’s Champagne Region

In a picturesque vineyard on the outskirts of Epernay, France, Fabien Leclerc-Mondet is doing what his father and grandfather have done before him: sharing his vast knowledge of making champagne.

This time, however, the tour of the Leclerc-Mondet champagne house is a bit different. Fabien’s audience isn’t just any group of tourists looking to throw back a few flutes of bubbly. Instead, they are 21 students from the HEC Paris MBA, all of whom are participating in a one-day trek to learn more about the business behind France’s most celebratory—and revered – wine. Fabien is giving these MBAs a personalized tour and tasting of his family’s signature cuvées.

A photo of grapes

The three main grapes used for champagne are Chardonnay (pictured), as well as Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (photo courtesy Bernice Lee, MBA ’22)

“For international students, champagne truly represents the joie de vivre,” explains Bernice Lee, MBA ’22, one of the trek’s co-organizers. “We arranged these visits so that students could better appreciate the value and savoir-faire of true champagne.”

As the current President of the MBA’s Retail and Luxury Club, Bernice first learned about Maison Leclerc-Mondet during a Parisian Food and Wine Fair. Together with Kenta Hayashi, President of the MBA’s Wine, Spirits and Beer Society, the two students decided to organize this exclusive Oct 2nd tour to France’s renowned champagne region, arranging for participants to visit three privately owned—and very distinct—producers.

HEC Paris MBA Students doing a champagne tasting at Janisson Baradon

Private tasting at Janisson Baradon et Fils (photo courtesy Bernice Lee, MBA ’22)

“After Covid, we really wanted to provide an immersive experience for students,” Kenta explains. “These producers had just finished their harvest, but we were able to see everything from the vines being pruned to experimental vats that may one day end up being a normal part of the fermentation process.”

First on the students’ agenda was a private tour of the vineyard and caves and a personalized tasting at Janisson Baradon et Fils, a fifth-generation, family-owned winery. Next came Leclerc-Mondet, where participants took a deep-dive into the process of creating an organically certified bubbly. Afterward was a visit to the prestigious Maison Taittinger, where the sommelier popped the cork on a €160 bottle of 2011 Comtes de Champagne.

In a chalk cave at Taittinger

Touring the crayères (chalk caves) of the Taittinger Champagne house (photo courtesy Bernice Lee, MBA ’22)

“We wanted students to experience the entire spectrum of producers–from smaller artisans to a touring the world’s sixth-largest champagne house,” Bernice explains.

Fabien gives a personal tour of his family's Leclerc-Mondet champagne house

Fabien gives a personal tour of his family’s Leclerc-Mondet champagne house (photo courtesy Bernice Lee, MBA ’22)

The end result was a 360-degree view of the champagne-making process—and the sampling of some very special bubbles.

The Taittinger tasting included their famed Comtes de Champagne

The Taittinger tasting included their famed Comtes de Champagne (photo courtesy Bernice Lee, MBA ’22)


With the tour guide from Janisson Baradon

With the tour guide from Janisson Baradon (photo courtesy Bernice Lee, MBA ’22)


Read about another recent trek to the Champagne Region taken by HEC Paris MBA students. 

Learn more about the HEC Paris MBA Student Clubs and the student life on campus.

Please note: Masks have been exceptionally removed for the needs of these photos.