The Grand Champagne Report

Look at that silly smile. That is me scanning the room for my next glass of bubbly at Grand Champagne 2018 – one of the best wine events in the whole of Europe. One would not guess Helsinki to be the venue for such an event. Maybe Paris or London sounds more natural. But it is the hard work of Master of Wine Essi Avellan and winelovers Taru and Christian From, that bring the cream of Champagne to Helsinki every spring for this three day celebration of wine. For the past two years, I have had the privilege to attend the Grand Champagne press event, listening to visiting winemakers speak about their profession and taste through the years new releases of cuvees and vintages. Here is my report of what is new and hot, and what I recommend to buy into the cellar. Continue reading “The Grand Champagne Report”

At the Helsinki Coffee Festival

This weekend was full of events. I know many of you are waiting for my report from Grad Champagne (it was awesome), but I want to put some more time and effort into writing that. So today I will focus on the Helsinki Coffee Festival instead, where we found ourselves just by chance. M saw a poster on the wall of one of our favorite third wave cafes, and luckily the event was near to where we were staying – the Helsinki Cable Factory event hall. The tickets for the morning were 15 euros from the door and 12 euros if you bought them online. The fare included access to the event and an endless flow of samples of coffee. Continue reading “At the Helsinki Coffee Festival”

Wineweek 172: Booking for Grand Champagne

I am a bit late to the party here, but better late than never. Grand Champagne, my favorite wine event of the year is coming, and it is time to book tickets – at least for the amazing Master Class tastings, held by some of the greatest winemakers in the region. The event is held in the center of Helsinki, from the 19th to the 21st of April, and is one of the biggest gatherings of Champagne houses in Europe. I would say that only events held in the French wine region its self can compare.  Continue reading “Wineweek 172: Booking for Grand Champagne”

The Best Cuts in Helsinki

I like meat! But like many others, I have also scaled down on my consumption. Not only because it is good for my body and the environment, but because I have become picky. Meat should be good, and well made. A steak well-done is murder of good produce. Somehow, I have lately not been too impressed by meat-places in Finland. I would not even dream of using my meat-quota on a pepper steak. But now, I have found a place I can happily recommend to a carnivore. Werner bar and grill on Bulevardi delivers on both produce and execution. And has good wines.. Continue reading “The Best Cuts in Helsinki”

Wineweek 163: Pre-christmas in Helsinki

Every year, we travel abroad for Christmas. And not just abroad, but preferably far far away from cold Sweden. We like spending the holiday season somewhere warm. Other prerequisites are safety, good food and preferably good drinks. There are plenty of travel destinations in the world, but only a few of the fulfill our requirements. So despite a tough analysis on all of the possible options, every year we end up going to South-East Asia. This years destinations include Thailand (Bangkok and Hua Hin) , Cambodia (Siam Reap) and Singapore. And whats best, we leave already next week. Next week! Awesome! But before that, we have been spending some time in Helsinki to make up for the lost Christmas with my family. We did some fun stuff. Here are a few tips for Helsinki in December. Continue reading “Wineweek 163: Pre-christmas in Helsinki”

Wineweek 147: August Favorites in Helsinki

This is one of those rare days I have almost nothing to say. Rare! No special reason, but compared to a summer on the move, its been very quiet for the past two weeks. I could mention the Santa Barbara Chardonnay that we had a week ago, or the rooftop bar I visited on Wednesday, but instead, I chose to add some photos from my quick trip to Helsinki a week and a half ago. They give a nice reminder that it is still summer, and life should be a little bit slow. Here are a few August favorites from Helsinki. Continue reading “Wineweek 147: August Favorites in Helsinki”

Helsinki’s Best Bars for Nature Wines

I had a quick look at my statistics last week, and one of the most popular posts of all time is my review of Helsinkis wine bars a few years back. All the places in that post are still relevant, I would go for a glass of wine at Latva, Vin Vin, Soil Wine Room and Sinne Helsinki any day. However, there are is a new genre of wine bar in town, that should really be mentioned – the natural wine bar. Nature wines are produced without any help from synthetic chemistry: pesticides or additives like clearing agents. They are usually unfiltered and can have some sediments that make the wine murky and thick in color. There is a skin contact-trend going on which means that you can also find orange, and amber-wines on the lists. Continue reading “Helsinki’s Best Bars for Nature Wines”

Wineweek 144: Places in Helsinki

The last two weeks have been spent in my childhood home of Helsinki. I come here every summer to spend time with my family, and to check out whats new in town. This time, I did not check out so much new, but rather revisited the old. I took long walks with my camera, and tried to capture some memories from childhood hangouts. One day I even had the pleasure of taking a photowalk with my mentor Tuulia. She has taken me from completely automatic to 100% manual photography within a matter of hours. I always learn something revolutionary about my camera when I am with her. For this week, I thought of combining a bit of tourist tips with my pictures – places in my childhood neighborhood of Töölö that I think are worth a visit. Continue reading “Wineweek 144: Places in Helsinki”

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

 

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”