CJ’s Champagne Train @ IVY

Flushed with the success of their inaugural open-house champagne night at EST earlier this year, the folk at Merivale were quick to jump on the Sydney Food Festival bandwagon in October with another epicurious effervescent experience, this time hosted in the more spacious sunroom at IVY.

There were 18 Champagne houses represented at the original event at EST – with each offering a range of 3 champagnes to taste. Alas attempting to taste 40 odd champagnes proved to be mission impossible for most guests who were only given two hours to get around the whole room, so sommelier Franck Moreau’s decision to restrict the number of participating Champagne houses to only 14 this time around made perfect sense.

Luckily for the punters perhaps, in-between times the Merivale group had also opened up a bottle shop within the IVY complex, so if you found a particular non-vintage that you really liked you could conveniently order a case or two on the way out…

From my previous encounter at EST, I decided that the best way to tackle the evening was to arrive early in order to reconnoiter the whole room and plan the perfect palate attack (ie taste from the lightest to the heaviest style of champagne).  The next most important step was to remember to ambush any canapé carrying waiters as soon they came into view to ensure there was enough fuel in the tank to mop up the delicious stream of bubbles. Mission accomplished!!

I had invited a small group of champagne loving friends and clients to join me in this amorous adventure and so between us we formed a CJ Champagne Express cutting a swathe through the masses of well-heeled and well oiled smiling crowds in an orderly intelligent fizz fashion. Perhaps because of the warm spring evening ambience, my stand out wines of the night were the creamy and elegant classical styles of Taittinger & Pol Roger, but I also really enjoyed the juxta position of a unique bio-dynamic grower champagne – the only one on show –  the ever so fresh and vibrant Larmandier Bernier(of which we shared a couple of bottles in the downstairs bar post event).

For any serious champagne lover an open house champagne tasting such as this is a wonderful social opportunity to compare and contrast the big names whilst partaking of the gourmet canapés laid on by the host – but if you’re a champagne novice the choice of where to start and how best to proceed can be a bit daunting so best to join a champagne train like ours or just ask the in-house expert Franck. I look forward to seeing you all again next time around!

Blanc de Blancs: Henriot Brut Souverain, Ruinart

Rose: Gosset, Bollinger

Blends: Taittinger, Pol Roger, Perrier Jouet, Mumm, Charles Heidsieck, Piper, Bollinger, Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot

Grower: Larmandier Bernier

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