The Official # Champagne Experience Day

Sizzle or Steak? If you have a hugely popular event and you give it a name that precisely describes it, then it might sound a bit dull: “A room full of people tasting fermented grape juice and spitting” is not enticing. But call it the Champagne Bureau’s Annual Tasting and things are getting better. The go a step further and re-name it “The Official #Champagne Experience Day” and suddenly you’re young, modern and trendy. Move the event to a brick and concrete warehouse behind Kings Cross Station and it doesn’t sound great but relocate to the beautifully restored building of Central St Martin’s, walking distance from the Eurostar terminal and, again, we’re off!

The result is the same – you get a room full of people tasting and spitting fermented grate juice … but it’s great fun and hugely informative! Then hold the event the day after Article 50 is signed and you have a real hum-dinger! Read More

New Horizons for Champagne

2016 was a busy year for the Comité Champagne … it saw the launch of some terrific initiatives: the Champagne Campus and the 3D VR app telling us about the region and the wines. But the big news was the designation of the Champagne region as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each of those would justify a podcast on their own but I like efficiency and there was only one person I could go to to tell us about all those thing: Thibaut Le Mailloux, the Communications Director of the Comité Champagne.

Premium Cava at Fizz with Richard Hemming MW

Fizz, the Sparkling Wine Show in London every autumn is a terrific opportunity to get your taste buds and nose around some of the best new non-Champagne sparking wines on the UK market. It’s held in Church House in London in their glorious round hall and is organised by the indefatigable Ben Campbell-Johnson. It is also a great place to learn new things. For example, you may have Cava pigeonholed as a low-quality, volume drink to take to parties where you can foist it on other people, while you scoff the Champers but, according to Richard Hemming MW, you’d be, at least partly, wrong! Cava is emerging as one of the top non-Champagne sparklers. Now this came as a surprise to me so I went along to ask him what he means by this:

Champagne Bureau Annual Tasting 2015

The Champagne Bureau’s Annual London Tasting was held this year in One Great George Street, ’round the corner from Downing Street, the Palace of Westminster and along the park from Buckingham Palace. As ever, the Peretti team set up a splendid bash. The great, the good, the adequate and the befuddled congregated like wildebeest to watering hole.; they all wanted to find out what’s gnu in Champagne. (sorry)

Read More

Fizz – The sparkling Wine Show

Once again, Ben Campbell-Johnston has put on a show of sparkling wines other than Champagne (other than a few specialists or boutique producers). This time held in Church House, a terrific venue. A grand time was had by all.

Fizz Sparkling Wine Show

As winter takes its hold and the mince pies are starting to make you yearn for a light green salad with balsamic dressing, it can’t be avoided, I’m afraid: Christmas is here. You will need to provide drinks (probably wine or sherry) for your guests and family (I suggest a discrete store of something stronger for yourself in those quiet moments) and sparkling wine will be required, nay demanded.

Now, you don’t want to spend buckets of dosh on a few bottles of Champagne, when you can spend a few pounds on buckets of sparkling enjoyment from other wine regions. So, feeling public-spirited, we’ve investigated the UK’s first wine show dedicated to non-Champagne sparkling wines. The conclusion we reached may surprise you .. OK, it might not.

Merry Christmas. Read More

Gusbourne Estate

English sparkling wines have a perception problem: Yes, they’re good, yes, they’re elegant and stylish, yes, they’re local but, when you come down to it they’re just not Champagne, are they?

For now.

True, they don’t yet have the history that comes with Champagne; but the times and the weather they are a’changing: with European temperatures rising, what were optimum conditions for Champagne are now found in Southern England. And it’s starting to show: Kent’s own Gusbourne Estate sparkling wines won medals galore this year against top Champagnes, gaining themselves much interest from buyers, journalists and consultants around the world, most of whom had, previously, simply not heard of Gusbourne.

So, to find out what they’re all about and how English wines are mounting a serious quality challenge to Champagne, we ventured down to Kent to meet the owner and the grower.

Thiénot UK and Canard Duchêne

The UK Champagne market is, as we’ve said again and again, complex and crowded. Importers and makers need to fight prety hard to be noticed. One of the problems is the sheer number of brands and labels available. However what we, the consumers, often don’t realise is which Champagne is owned by which other Champagne house.

So to clarify one point: Thiénot UK own Canard Duchêne and they offered us the chance to take a peek at their output in the gorgeous surroundings of 6 Fitzroy Square in London: Read More

Champagne Bureau Annual Tasting 2013

It’s spring, it must be Champagne!

As the years roll by, I’m start to realise how short they’re becoming. Why, it seems only a couple of weeks ago that I was at the Champagne Bureau‘s annual tasting in the Banqueting House in Whitehall, London. As it happens, they DID hold the tasting the week before last, so that’s OK, then. Each year, there is an effort by the communications office to send out a new message about Champagne. This year, it’s that we’ve been drinking more expensive Champagne and this event was a chance to taste some of it in one of the most beautiful rooms in London.

Read More


Every area of work has its networks of colleagues, contacts and friends, and, in an ideal world, it’s difficult to tell them apart. The same is true of the fraternity and sorority of wine-writers. We meet and compete in the convivial atmosphere of tastings and presentations and develop a sense of closeness, of belonging … that sometimes even lasts after the alcohol wears off! Read More

What’s New In Champagne?

Some things are traditional and unchanging; or at least that’s the impression we have. It always rains at Wimbledon, the hats are huge at Ascot and Champagne will always be, well, Champagne. So, one might ask, what’s the point of the Champagne Bureau’s annual tasting in The Banqueting House, London if we’re going to get more of the same? Obviously, there’s the chance to taste unaffordable vintages and spend time in beautiful surroundings. But the times they are a-changing. There are trends and fads, styles and fashions so I went along in the spirit of research to find out what’s new in the ancient and tradition-bound world of Champagne: Read More

Champagne Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards 2009

The 5th Champagne Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards ceremony took place in September 2009 in a glamorous event at the very top of The Gherkin in St Mary Axe in the City of London. A lucky few of the wine trade’s great and gathered to celebrate the finest writing on wine and to witness the awarding of “Roederers” (with complementary magnum of Cristal) to some of the best writers in the business.

Since I had the honour of attending the Roederer Wine Writers Awards ceremony and as a tireless investigator of all things vineous and literary, I went to have a chat with some of the nominees and the organisers and learned some things that should give real pause for thought. This podcast is a preview of the event.

The Champagne Bureau

The Champagne Bureau’s annual tasting 2009 took place in March in the Banqueting House in Whitehall in London. It was a chance for the Champagne industry to get together and show the year’s new wines. I took my grumbling liver to Westminster to find out the state of the industry at this time.