I am super excited: 50 producers, 200 different champagnes and 16 different master classes organized by famous champagne personalities, cellar masters and head-winemaker – all under one roof in Finland in may. Grand Champagne is by far the biggest bubbly event of the year in the Nordic countries (as far as you ask me), and its happening in my birth town of Helsinki where we visit frequently. And the best news is, that this year we are going!
The thing with wine fairs is that they are not always open for the wider public. Or if they are, it is just on a specific day. For example Terres & Vins, which is a grower champagne fair in Reims, requires a special invitation (even we had to be a bit creative to get in last time). Grand Champagne is three days of great champagne and educational tastings (master classes) for everyone who so desires. Of course both entry and drinks have a cost, but just to have the chance for trying some of the wines there is great. Pre-bought entry costs 18€ and includes the tasting glass; and not just whatever cheap flute, an Opale 21 from Lehmann to take home. If you are going with friends, group tickets are available for a discounted price for pre-purchase from www.ceestashop.fi.
After entry, one can load tasting tickets (2€ a piece) on an electronic tasting card. The champagnes are served in 4cl tasting portions (great!) and cost a number of tasting tickets based of course on which champagne it is. Master classes, have a separate cost from 30 something euros and up. They are organized by producer or by theme. You can browse the options from here. We had a very hard time deciding which ones we want to go to. Bollinger sounds super exciting as well as Pierre Gimonnet (I love Gimonnet!); Nicolas Jaeger, the cellar master of Alfred Gratien we have met personally and it would have been fun to meet him again. But after hours and hours of browsing we ended up in choosing Charles Heidsieck, mainly because I am dying to try their 1982 magnum (my birth year!) and Palmer & Co. as they also have some tasters from 1985. Vintages from the 80’s are rarely available for tasting in bars, and even then they are sold by the bottle for ridiculous prices. Of course, master classes for two participants does not end up cheap on the credit card bill, altogether 200€. But it feels very much worth it. We shall see.
After contacting the organizers of Grand Champagne for a press-pass, I got a super friendly response, and an invitation for myself and M to join an event for press and bloggers. So we will be tasting and mingling all day Friday (12th of May) with the producers and other professionals. Super exciting! I am hoping to gather a lot of good material and great pictures for the blog, so that the ones that cannot make it get a glimpse of all the fun (and decide to come next year). If you want some tips and tricks for visiting Helsinki and Grand Champagne this year, don’t hesitate to use the comments box.