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


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 42: Fall Thoughts and the Best Deal on Champagne in Town

Good evening from rainy Stockholm! It is Sunday again and we are enjoying a lazy afternoon at home. The past week has been hard; Not only due to every project landing on us at the same time, but the news…I am sure you have seen it. But what has made me extremely happy in the recent days is the headlines being filled with countries and companies extending their hand to help the ones in need. We are a small company, but we want to help too. So we decided to donate our September profit to charity; SOS Children’s Villages to be exact. Our profits are seldom very big, so we will probably put some extra money on top; But if you want to contribute, come to our tasting on Saturday and/or make your fall wine purchases from the Winecurious.

Some of the most interesting findings this week were made in the grocery store. Our neighborhood supermarket just happens to have a small deli inside with a license to serve wine. It’s not a real wine bar or such, but you can buy some fresh food to have there and a glass of wine as companion. We were sopping for dinner on Monday when we just, out of curiosity, took a peak at the wine-list. There it was, a vintage (2008) Palmer & Co. by the glass for only 90 SEK (10 EUR). That must be the best deal on champagne in town. I believe I will volunteer to do the shopping from now on (and I suspect that M will too). The environment is not the coziest in town, but hey, you cant have everything.

We also did some nice dining during the week. After a “long” summer pause, we visited our fave restaurant, Matkonsulatet. They had some nice new wines on the list. The red in the picture is from Teneriffe. I also enjoyed some traditional Swedish cuisine at restaurant Asplunds. Hmm. I wonder what kid of red would go with reindeer, mashed potatoes and lingonberries?

The wine list at the local supermarket
The wine list at the local supermarket
This is about as cozy as it gets but who cares with a nice glass of champagne in your hand
This is about as cozy as it gets but who cares with a nice glass of champagne in your hand
The return to Matkonsulatet
The return to Matkonsulatet
The cheese selection at Matkonsulatet can be shared by four
The cheese selection at Matkonsulatet can be shared by four
A traditional Swedish dish at lunch restaurant Asplund's
A traditional Swedish dish at lunch restaurant Asplund’s

Came weekend, it was time for some wine, sparkling wine to be exact. On Friday we opened a cremant du Jura and on Saturday a rose sparkling from Austria. The Benoit Badoz cremant was definitely one of the best ones I have tasted in a long time, and cost less than 10 EUR in the producers web-shop. A real bargain I would say. The Austrian rose was also good (we had tasted a glass in a wine bar in Paris), but slightly past its prime. I need to try to score a newer vintage. I think this one was from 2010 and really on it’s last meters before going over. More specific reviews will follow.

Benoit Badoz Creman du Jura, an excellent bubbly for less than 10 EUR
Benoit Badoz Creman du Jura, an excellent bubbly for less than 10 EUR
Austrian sparkling on Saturday night, the label does not look like much but the wine was excellent
Austrian sparkling on Saturday night, the label does not look like much but the wine was excellent

So that was it for Wineweek 42. Next week will be exciting as we will open our fall order window and hold the big open house tasting. We have a lot of nice people coming: friends, colleagues and some wine bloggers. Interesting to see how our samples of Almeida Garrett from Portugal will be received. We also have some sample bottles from south of France, so we shall see if we will include them this time or wait until Christmas.

Have a great coming week!

xx Soile

Wine-up Your Event

Like weddings? And other big events? Me too! However, I seldom find the wines served very interesting. It is not easy arranging quality drinks for a hundred people without it being heavy on the wallet. A few weeks back, we attended a wedding in Finland that was a pleasant exception. I kind of knew it would be as the couple are as winecurious as me (and the groom revealed what would be served as aperitif even before the date was set). Actually, their big day did not only have a serving of good wine, the whole event was organized to reflect the couples interest in the topic. I really loved these details and thought it would be nice to share them with you (with the couples consent of course). So here are a few tips on how to “wine-up” you event.

1. Accessories: The theme was reflected already at the church as small bottles of bubbles were handed out to greet the newlyweds exciting the building. The small champagne bottle soap bubbles were elegant and cute and I was able to snatch one home. The space also had some nice wine-details, like the place-card holders and wine bottles candlesticks.

2. Games: The couple was intent on serving good and interesting wine on their big day, but that kind of bottles come with a price. However, they have a very nice wine cellar that they decided to utilize for the occasion. As there were no wines in the cellar reaching the number of bottles required to serve everyone, they picked different bottles and held a wine-quiz. The winning group (of around 6 people) could go to the table and pick a bottle first, the second could go second and so on. The quiz was more about the couples wine-adventures than actual wine-knowledge, so one didn’t need to be an oenologist to win (luckily we had one in our group though as it came handy in some of the questions regarding the couples cellar). A wonderful and fun game with a prize I really wanted to win. We picked a great 2003 shiraz from Kay Brothers. It was a real treat with the lamb main course.

3. Beverages. For beverages, the couple invested in a great aperitif (and of course the wine game). They had bought magnum bottles of Palmer & Co Vintage (2002) Champagne. A magnum is often a better buy than a regular 0,75l bottle and for a big event, it makes sense to open some. Other wines had been selected by arranging wine-tasting among friends before the big day and by ordering larger quantities online. Finland is an expensive country when it comes to alcohol, so utilizing the free movement of goods within the EU, many nice wines are found cheaper in eg Germany and France. One must be aware of the customs rules though, so read up before you make your order. A good tip is also to take a cruise on the boats between Finland and Sweden. Many nicer wines can be found on the boat tax free. Bring friends though, as the maximum amount of alcohol that one can bring to land is 4l (5 bottles each).

A cozy atmosphere, wonderful wines and great friends: a memorable day indeed. We are already married, but if we ever arrange a big event, this is what I want our day to look like. And even before that, I am snatching the idea of the place-card holders.