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

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

 

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”

Wineweek 103: Rainy Helsinki

I have spent the past week in Helsinki. It rained a lot, thus only photos from indoors. It was really this kind of nasty, humid fall weather, where the chill just penetrates all your outer clothes and sinks all the way to your bones. I have never gotten used to that, not even when I lived in London, where this kind of weather was a constant. Stockholm on the other hand was very sunny this weekend when I came back home. I could have just stayed outside all day long. Instead, we sat in the windowless chambre separé at Magnusson and had a good dose of Delamotte.  Continue reading “Wineweek 103: Rainy Helsinki”

High-flying Wines: Scandinavian Airlines from Stockholm to New York

A few years back M and I made a decision: we would no longer do the cramped cattle thing on long haul flights. If we were to fly for over 6 hours, we would do it comfortably or not at all. Not to say it would have to be Business Class, but at least economy extra with a proper leg space. Up to this date, we have not yet paid for one pair of business class tickets, but always flown in comfort. We have used points and vouchers, traveled on dates inconvenient for others, whatever has been at that time the best way to secure leg space. So today, an eight hour flight does not really sound like such a bore. It is actually an extended part of the vacation as it is enjoyable. Continue reading “High-flying Wines: Scandinavian Airlines from Stockholm to New York”

Wineweek 25

The lazy weekend after a hectic week, this is what I am enjoying today. Just sitting around reading newspapers and eating pizza. To be honest I caught the flu on Friday and have been forced to rest, otherwise I might have arranged some more action. M is in London this weekend for a football trip, so I have been circling around the wine fridge contemplating what to open just for me. It’s not like we have that many bottles there that I would dare open alone. Not because I could not consume it, but rather all bottles in the fridge are there because both of us want to have a taste. So tired and slightly fluish (my taste buds are not at their sharpest) I actually opted for tea instead of wine. Next week will only be a three day work week, so I am sure that there will be wine soon enough.

Petrus Bakery Söder STockholm
Some coffee and pastries at Petrus, Söder
Maria Torget Stockholm
Taking a sunny walk in Söder
Maria Torget Stockholm Sweden
Flower shopping

I have some exciting news to share with you this week as we will be opening a new sales window for Sweden next week. We will also be doing something new, arranging an open house wine tasting for our new selection on the 23rd of May. We will have all of our new wines as well as our dear Llagrima d’Or and Peret Fuster wines out for a try. The tasting room will be open from 2pm to 8pm so people can stop by to sample the summer collection. We will also have some exciting offers for those who are looking to stock up for the summer vacation. Myself and M have visited all of the producers and tasted all of their wines and think they are awesome, but I cannot wait to hear what others think of them. If you are reading this and thinking it would be cool to stop by, send us an email to info@thewinecurious.com.

I must say I am really looking forward to the new sales window. The last one was a bit of a tester, and we didn’t market it that much to keep the volumes small (you don’t want to use too many customers as guinea pigs). We had a new warehouse and a new courier company handling the deliveries. So you never know if the service matches your expectations. It definitely did! We are working together with Danske Fraektman and JetPack who are both experienced in delivering wine and spirits, and I must say the service worked impeccably well. The boxes were handled with care, they left Denmark exactly the day they were supposed to and customers received good instructions for when their package would be delivered. It is not often I complement transport companies, so one should read this that I am utterly impressed. You don’t get that many chances in this business, so good partners are key!

And what is up next week? We will be heading for a cruise! It has been years since I have traveled with the ferry sailing between Finland and Sweden. They are often referred to as ‘Party boats’ as they draw a slightly drunken crowd (yes, I used to cruise around as a student as well). However, this time we are not heading there for the festivities, but rather to shop. And anyway, we are just taking the day cruise to Marienhamn (the island between Finland and Sweden). Viking Line has Bubbly Weeks all May, and that means bubbly menus in the ships restaurants and some great offers in the Tax Free shop. We have been eyeing the Charles Heidsieck Millessime 2005 and Blanc de Millenaires 1995 that we tasted about a month back at Magnussons Fine Wines (read about it here). The 2005 can be bought for less than 50€ a bottle and the 1995 will set you back 110€. Comparing to what they cost at the Swedish monopoly ( 70€/150€) these prices are GOOD! Also there are some other pearls that one might land at the boat that are not mentioned on the website, so it is definitely worth sacrificing a day to look at ‘happy’ Finns and Swedes rummaging between the buffet, tax free and disco. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a quiet cruise.

Other exciting stuff. M is in London. And besides watching a lot of football, he is on an important mission. On our trip to London over New Year, we came up with the idea for a private label champagne tasting. Many big grocery chains have their own champagne often produced by a big name in the region. Fortnum and Mason for example have Billegart-Salmon and Louis Rhoederer and Selfridges Henri Giraud. Champagne is seldom cheap but these babies are half price compared to the producers own labelled stuff. I am not sure of course if the product is exactly the same as with what they bottle for themselves. I do hope so, as it should be the quality of grapes and knowledge of the winemaker that makes a product great. So if the private label products are not close to the producers standards, then I suspect the drop in quality is intentional. The producers name must be mentioned on the bottles, so I do hope that they see this as a part of their brand as well. We will soon find out as M has been a busy bee and collected already 19 bottles to bring back home.

That is it for this wineweek! Hoping to come back to you soon with some more bubbly-action!