What inspired you to create The Champagne Dame?
"It was 2005 and one afternoon I just happened to read an article on Napoleon Bonaparte - the first Emperor of France - and his connection with Champagne and his friendship with a young Jean-Remy Moët. It piqued my interested. So I ordered a book on Champagne history. I devoured it. I ordered another, and another, and another until there were no more books to read. I still wanted to know more. So I wrote a letter to a gentleman who had written my favourite book on Champagne. It was a pen to paper letter mind you so one month later I received a written reply inviting me to France so I could meet him and he said he would teach me all he knew. This was a sliding doors moment in my life. So I packed up my life and left for France. It was just a figment of my imagination at that point in time but now its my universe. I have been educating in champagne now for just over a decade and I love it."
What is the significance in taste between an average champagne versus a top of the range variety? Are the most expensive champagnes really the best ones?
"I need to start by saying that Champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France and there are exacting standards in production and unique terroir and climate that make pretty much all champagnes that come from that part of the world outstanding. But I do concur that there are differences between average champagne and an ethereal one."
"When you taste a top of the line champagne (which isn’t always the most expensive), its about balance - perfect length on the palate, perfect weight and drive. It will have beautiful layers of aroma, and complex aromas that will keep evolving and keep revealing as you slowly move through the bottle. It will show power with finesse and it will linger on your palate moments after you swallow enticing you back to the glass for another journey. It will etch itself in your memory. I have a few champagnes in my mind that do that."
Can you tell us a champagne that is your favourite most people wouldn't have heard about?
"At the moment I am enamoured with Jacquesson champagne. I totally respect tradition but these guys are throwing tradition to the wind and are running their own race….and they’re winning. Single vineyard, single vintage, single varietal, non vintage cuvees crafted more like a vintage, complete disclosure on their labels, super sleek and modern labelling, super low dosage, low yields for intensity….I could go on. I just love everything that this house is doing. But of course there are other champagnes that I adore also….you will have to come to one of my classes to find out!"
What were the key learnings you took from working with the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Group that helped you for The Champagne Dame?
"Our CEO of Moet Hennessy Australia when I started out was Mr Robert Remnant, he was a gentleman and I admired him greatly. The most poignant thing he instilled in me was that we (LVMH) are the biggest in the market so we have an obligation to open up a market, create trial by consumers and be a good face for Champagne as some day the smaller guys will enter the market and follow suit. We represent champagne, we stand shoulder to shoulder. I have the same philosophy as an educator. I respect my peers and welcome everyone into the business who promotes champagne in the right way. We are stronger side by side."
What can we expect at the Champagne Dinner Series held at Jolley's Boathouse on October 20th?
"You can expect to transported a long way from Adelaide and into a beautiful, historical realm of one of the world’s most enigmatic wines. You will never look at Champagne the same way again. 5 courses, 5 wines, and lots of stories. We have also partnered with Waterford crystal to tell the history of the champagne glass with the whole dinner conducted in reverse. It will be an amazing experience. If you love champagne you need to be there."