I never liked Champagne until I had the really good stuff. When I was early in my wine explorations, I went to weddings and New Year's Eve bashes and dutifully tried all the bubbly, but didn't see what the fuss was about. My lack of experience with quality Champagne was understandable, given how much money I, and the people I hung out with, were typically spending on it. It's a sad reality of the wine world that by and large most quality Champagne starts at about $35 to $40 a bottle, and the really good stuff starts in the $60 to $80 price range.
Once I understood what I was missing, however, I quickly did everything I could to correct my misguided understanding of what the Champagne world had to offer. But it was not an easy task. There are very few opportunities to taste a lot of Champagnes side-by-side, even if you are a member of the trade. As a consumer, such opportunities are incredibly rare, especially compared to the relative frequency of opportunities to taste, say, as many Zinfandels as you want, or a lot of Rhone Varietals.
All of which brings me to Monday, September 30th. If you are interested in giving yourself a little education when it comes to Champagne, or if you're educated already and simply want to soak yourself in a few bubbles, then you ought to be in line at 4:00 PM upstairs at the Ferry Plaza Building for the annual Masters of Wine Champagne Tasting. Ordinarily I don't post about events so far in advance, but this one has limited tickets and is bound to sell out, for obvious reasons.
Put on by the Institute for the Masters of Wine as both a fundraising as well as a general outreach event, this tasting offers an incredible opportunity to taste some of the world's best Champagnes, poured by some of the world's most knowledgeable wine experts. The last one of these tastings I attended, many of the top cuvées from Dom Perignon, Salon, Taittinger, Bollinger, Roederer and more were on offer. The Institute claims that this tasting is "the most prestigious tasting of Champagne in North America," and who is going to argue with...The Institute?
Of course, I'm now officially a Champagne fan, and my love for good Champagne has been deepening for several years. I kid you not when I say that not a week goes by when I don't think to myself that I should be buying, cellaring, and drinking more Champagne. I just wish the good stuff just didn't cost so much.
In the meantime, we should go hang with the MW's and drink as much as they'll pour us.
9th Annual Masters of Wine Champagne Tasting
Monday, September 30th, 2013
Session 1: 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Session 2: 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Ferry Building Marketplace
One Ferry Building, Second Floor
San Francisco, California 94111
Tickets for this event are $60 for one session (2 hrs worth of bubbly), and $100 for both sessions (4 hours worth of bubbly) and should be purchased in advance online (the event will most likely sell out, as there is limited capacity). Proceeds benefit the Institute for the Masters of Wine, and in particular their scholarships for aspiring students, I believe.
Parking is a doozy around the Ferry Plaza, and if you're going to swallow any of those bubbles, it would serve you well to simply take public transport to the tasting. Also, please leave your perfume at home.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
The Superb Grace of Old Vines: Drinking Janasse The Zinfandel Experience: January 31, San Francisco Vinography Unboxed: Week of January 4, 2015 Vinography Images: The Colors of a New Season Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 27th, 2014 Vinography Images: Rich Skies Losing a Legend in Serge Hochar Flirting with the Ecstatic: The Wines of Nikolaihof, Austria Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 20, 2014 A Grape By Any Other Name
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune