Grand Champagne Vol. 2 – Master Classes

Keeping my promise on writing some more about Grand Champagne. This time I thought I would be focusing on one of the juiciest parts of the exhibition, the Master Classes.

The Master classes are educational tastings organized at the Grand Champagne event. Every Master class had a theme; most focused on a specific champagne house, their story, style and vintages; the rest on topics like pairing champagne with food. The purpose of the Master classes was to be educational, but also a good tasting opportunities for rare wines. We joined two house-classes: Palmer & Co. and an all-time favorite, Charles Heidsieck.

The Palmer & Co. tasting was intimate. The room had space for around 20 people around a long table. We tasted four wines from Palmer: the entry level Brut and vintages 2002, 1998 and 1985. All magnums. It was lovely listening to the story of the house while tasting through a rich set of vintages. Palmer is an interesting cooperative of seven established growers bringing together their high quality grapes. Palmer wines are not too violent on the wallet either, so we have perhaps gone a bit crazy looking to buy a 1985 magnum to have in our cellar.

The other Master Class we attended was for Charles Heidsieck. It was a larger class but still quite pleasant. I really like the Heidsieck wines. The entry level cuvee has always been a favorite when it comes to big well-known brands. Along with Bollingers special cuvee of course. We already knew many of Heidsiecks recent vintages: We have tasted (and have in the cellar) both Millessime 2005 and Cuvee Millionaire 1995. So we attended mainly for the story of Champagne Charlie, and to be honest, the 1982 Jeroboam that was opened for the event. 1982 is my birth year, so I think its fun tasting champagnes that are as old as me. Heidsieck was the last tasting of the evening; we were already quite tired, and to be honest a bit tipsy. Heidsieck did not really cheap out with their pours, so it was a bit hard leaving some wine behind.

I think the Master Classes were definitely the main reason to go to Grand Champagne. Many producers had some rare vintages in the tastings, so just the opportunity to get a hold of those felt worth the price. Most master classes cost around 50€ per person and the entry ticket on top. Sounds a bit expensive, but totally worth it. A general survival tip though – do not book too many master classes per day, spread them out. Especially not following a press event where you anyway have been tasting wines all day.

xx Soile

Comparing the colour of the 2005 and the 1982
At the Heidsieck Master class
Palmer 2002, 1998 and 1985
Pouring the wine from magnums at the Palmer & Co. Master class


Grand Champagne Vol.1

When thinking about what to write about Grand Champagne, I really had a hard time keeping it short. There is just so much to share. So I decided to split the story in two, starting with the press event and professionals tasting on Friday morning. The second post will focus on the consumer event as well as Master classes. Continue reading “Grand Champagne Vol.1”

Take me to Grand Champagne

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! Continue reading “Take me to Grand Champagne”

Whats New at Cavatast 2016

Estimated time of arrival at Cavatast in Sant Sadurni: 2.5 days. Time until we board the plane: 1.5 days. Hours until I open the first cava of the week -best guess 20 (less than 24 at least). A welcome overdose of Cava is close and I can feel it, so I am preparing by reading up on what is new this year on the official tourist-site of Sant Sadurni.  Continue reading “Whats New at Cavatast 2016”

A Wedding in the Archipelago

I love weddings. They are such happy events. But the most hectic wedding season is over for me. Most of my friends are already married. About a month ago one of my best friends tied the knot, and I was waiting for his wedding like a kid waits for Saturday candy. I bought a new dress for the occasion and made sure early on to have flights booked. I myself got married in a very different way. Me and M flew to New York, got married in secret at Central Park, and had our celebration in private at a three star restaurant (Daniel). It was perfect for me, but then I really enjoy myself at other peoples family parties.  Continue reading “A Wedding in the Archipelago”

Cavatast is Coming Again

As summer is closing to it’s end, at least here in Sweden, I like turning my attention to what will be happening in the fall. The highlight is of course Cavatast, the festival to celebrate all that is to do with the spanish premium bubbly. Cavatast is a festival for everyone: locals, professionals as well as tourists. In recent years it has taken a  bit of a gastronomical direction as well with an increasing number of food vendors participating in the festivities. As every year, there is no information regarding this festival in English, so I have used my nonexisting skills in spanish to make educated guesses on what is in store for us. The only thing I can be quite sure about is the dates: 7th to the 9th of October.  Continue reading “Cavatast is Coming Again”

Drinking in the Midnight Sun

Up here in the Nordics, we are blessed with a special phenomenon: the June midnisht sun. This means that the sun does not go down at all, but it is light around the clock. Now some people might no like it, as it is sometimes hard to sleep in light. But the midnight sun and beloved Midsummer festival are what we are born and raised with. Midsummer is when most people start their vacations, eat good food, jump into the freezing lake (from the Sauna) and perhaps get a little bit drunk. Continue reading “Drinking in the Midnight Sun”

Remembering Reims

Exactly a year ago, I was in Reims, and I was excited. We had just spent all day at the grower champagne fair: Terres & Vins de Champagne. This year, we decided not to go. Frankly because we do not really see ourselves expanding to champagne right now. The monopoly is already really good with the French bubbly, and we will not be able to compete. We will rather focus on what we are great at, which is cava.  Continue reading “Remembering Reims”

The Best New Cavas from Cavatast

When asked which cava was the best I tasted all week, I don’t know what to answer. Ramon, the owner of Jaume Giró i Giró cavas phrased it in a good way: can you really say which one of your children you love the most? I only have one, but I can see his point. During the week in Spain, we tasted perhaps around 50 different cavas, so instead of announcing a winner I thought I would mention a few new acquaintances that stood out.

1. Torelló Rose Brut Reserva. This cava is a blend of Garnacha and Pinot Noir. It is a Catalan style Rose: deep in color and rich with taste. Taste is full with red berries. The Cava is not sweet at all. One of the best rose Cavas I have tasted.

2. Juve y Camps 100% Xarello Essential. I am sure that it has become clear that I am a fan of the Xarello grape. It gives a full bodied and aromatic cava with citrus fruits and mineral freshness. A perfect companion on a hot day.

At the Mestres stand at Cavatast 2015
At the Mestres stand at Cavatast 2015
Finger got in the way of the picture. I wonder how many cavas I had already tasted at this point
Finger got in the way of the picture. I wonder how many cavas I had already tasted at this point

3. Jaume Giró i Giró Montaner Gran Reserva. The Montaner is a blend of the cava trio: Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada, and Chardonnay. The nose has nice aromas of peach and honey melon. The taste has light acidity with hints of brioche and a nice creamy mouthfeel. Truly a stunning cava!

4. Mestres Visol 2007 Brut Nature. The house of Mestres has a distinct style. They are charismatic with an oxidized flavor and a touch of oak. The Visol has aromas of dried fruits, brioche and roasted nuts.

5. Martinez Rose (by Rimats Cava). Last year when we visited Rimarts, they had already sold out of their special edition Rose, Martinez. This year, we were well on time to taste the new harvest. The Martinez is also a blend of Garnacha and Pinot Noir. The color is absolutely stunning, light ruby pink. It is a young cava with extreme freshness and clean taste. It is very seldom that a Rose is made as a Brut Nature (no dosage). I am not sure if I would pick it as a rose if I were blind tasting (in dark glasses).

Jaume Giró i Giró really impressed with their selection.
Jaume Giró i Giró really impressed with their selection.
Finally tasting the the Martinez Rose. Only waited 6 months..
Finally tasting the the Martinez Rose. Only waited 6 months..

Bonus: Pere Mata Brut Nature Gran Reserva. When tasting this cava, both myself and M were amazed. The taste was fresh with white fruits, burned butter and brioche, and the mouthfeel was creamy. We had tasted quite many cavas during the week with nice aromas enticed by long aging, but this one stood out as very clean. The real surprise came when we heard that this cava was made with no Chardonnay. It is seldom that the cava trio produces such deep toasty notes.

There! Some cavas to put on the shopping list. The more I learn about cava, the more I am convinced that it has a bright future as a premium choice for bubbly.