I’ve been working in the wine industry for just over five years, but been interested in Champagne for a lot longer than that, from thimblefuls as a child at any family celebration, to an encounter with Ruinart at University. I currently work at a large independent called Cambridge Wine Merchants where I sell wine to the Cambridge and Oxford University colleges and am also on the buying team. Beyond this, I spent nine weeks in 2018 getting some hands-on winemaking experience at Rustenberg Wines in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and I am also enrolled on the MW study programme. My most memorable moment on the Champagne Academy course in 2015 would be having lunch in Mumm’s Moulin (windmill) á Verzernay with stunning views of the vineyards around but drinking Louis Roederer Cristal there as well. This is a classic example of the unity and collaboration of the 16 houses this one week of the year. My most memorable wines from the course included not only great vintages and prestige cuvées but also new discoveries such as the remarkably good value Folies de la Marquetterie single vineyard wine from Taittinger. I still buy a few bottles of this whenever I see it for sale.
I started as a Trainee Manager with the Savoy Hotel back in the early 1980’s. I spent three enjoyable years there before joining Harrods as a Christmas Temp in the wine department and was made full time, which led to 5 years of service in the corner grocery of Knightsbridge. After this I was given 7 months absence,(remove comma) so that I could work as a stagier in France and become the only person to live and work there who was allowed to use the Harrods name. It was during my time at Harrods that I was accepted into the Champagne Academy in 1987.
After working in France I joined Grants of St. James in York, just before the first takeover and spent ten glorious years selling to the on-trade, covering the North-East and Tyneside. I ended up based at the HQ in Bristol with Matthew Clark. Later on, I worked for a few specialist wine companies, which would focus on a particular country or region.
For the last two years, I have been working for the largest independent winery in Italy, which is based in Piedmont, covering all trade channels of the wine business.
My interests are Champagne, walking the dog, anyone’s dog, Champagne, sailing, combining both is even better, reading and Champagne.
"As Group Operations Director for Legacy Hotels and Resorts, I lead the General Managers in our business across all subject matters within their unit. With an eclectic mix of provincial 3 and 4 star hotels and both new build and beautiful listed buildings, no two days are alike. With hotels from Edinburgh to Southampton and both branded and independent, there is a new opportunity almost every day.
My hospitality career started in Shrewsbury, Shropshire at the then independent Radbrook Catering College, now part of Shrewsbury College, where I won the award for outstanding student of year for 1978.
A placement at a then Trusthouse Forte hotel led to an interview in London at the Cumberland Hotel to get one of the only 17 places on the Inns Brand Trainee Managers Graduate Scheme, which I was successful in.
The next two and a half years were spent moving from one hotel to another, working through all departments, in places such as Camberley, Lavenham, Perth, Aylesbury, Grantham, Retford and Long Melford. I then took up a number of positions as Assistant and Deputy Manager, before my first General Managers Position.
Then all life changed, with my father and brother, who is currently the Exec Chef at the Hilton Hotel in Blackpool following his return from 15 years working throughout South and East Africa, when we took on a family bar and restaurant in the Midlands. My father’s ill health resulted in him retiring in 1988 and I decided to go back into the hotel industry.
I joined the Midland Hotel in Birmingham in 1988 as Food and Beverage Manager and became Hotel Manager in 1992. Between 1992 and 1997 we closed the hotel for a two-year rebuild of the whole site and following a £17 million redevelopment, reopened it as the Burlington Hotel, becoming the highest rated independent four-star hotel in the city. The hotel was then taken on by Macdonald Hotels and I stayed on until 2006 as General Manager before moving to join Legacy Hotels & Resorts.
In the early 2000s, I supported Valerie Simpson in arranging the Midlands dinners at locations throughout the city. I was nominated and attended the course in 2004 where I had one of the most memorable weeks of my life. Standing in the cellars of Krug being taken through a tasting by Remi Krug still - makes the hairs on my neck bristle with excitement, and lunch with Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger and the late dearly missed Justin Llewelyn at Château de la Marquetterie, is a memory that will stay with me forever.
A fourth-generation Independent Wine Merchant based in Oundle Northamptonshire. We sell wines and spirits both retail and wholesale, appealing to the independently minded wine drinker.
I have been a lifelong fan of Champagne and made it my personal crusade to be selected for the course by writing to all the Houses each year, sending my CV and pleading my case as to why I should get selected to go the course. After 3 years of repeat letter writing, I was called onto the course in 1997 with 6 days’ notice as someone dropped out from the original selection. Those days in Champagne on the course remain one of the highlights of my career in the wine industry and I passed the exam with distinction. I would encourage anybody who works in the wine industry who has a passion for Champagne to approach the Academy and get on the course.
I am very lucky that my hobby is also my business and when I am not drinking wine, I will be engaging in my other favourite topic - sport. I can get very passionate about both subjects and I am very lucky that I can drink one whilst watching the other. Or do the other one when I have had too much of the other!
The Champagne Academy has become a very influential tool for my business, being able to invite existing and potential customers to the unique events that the Academy puts on. It is also a wonderful platform for networking with other people from the industry and other Champagne Houses.
I will spend my year as Chairman in 2016 to move the Academy forward and hopefully instil my passion for the Academy in the others.
Past Chairman 2015
Tim Bartleet runs his own catering company, Blue Egg Catering from his home in Smarden, Kent. He set up his business in 2014 after a 30-year career in the hospitality industry. Companies he has worked for include The Savoy Group, Langans Group, Rules, The Ark and Ampersand. His last role was as General Manager at the Naval and Military Club in St James’ for Ampersand. He also managed the catering contract at the Honourable Artillery Company in the City of London.
Tim attended the Champagne Academy Course in 1998. The most memorable part of the Course for him was a vertical tasting in the tasting lab of Taittinger and being asked his opinion of three different vintages of Comte de Champagne. The week was amazing and seeing this year’s candidates out in Reims, he was reminded just how fortunate we all are.
His father Giles Bartleet was Chairman in 1977 so this is the first son to follow on in the chair. One of his earliest memories is of his parents going off to Champagne Academy events and having a wonderful time.
With over 20 years’ experience of managing top hotels and country clubs, Mark Fagan has proven his skill in adding benefit to organisations and businesses in ensuring they run smoothly, efficiently and profitably. In the past ten years, as well as managing Stoke Park's day-to-day operations, he worked in the planning stages of the prestigious new London Dunhill Club in Mayfair. Mark was also an integral part of the set-up team for Wembley Stadium, fulfilling the role of Senior Manager for the Bobby Moore Club, which provides dining facilities for up to nineteen hundred guests.
Mark is perhaps best known for his work at Stoke Park, regarded as a leading country club with a worldwide reputation for excellence. During his six years as Club Director, he oversaw extensive refurbishment of the estate and development of the spa and Pavilion. Significant growth saw the demand for additional luxury accommodation - a further 28 well-appointed rooms completed in 2008.
In the sporting world, working alongside the Ace Group, he was instrumental in the running of the annual Boodles Tennis Challenge held at Stoke Park the week preceding Wimbledon. The tennis event attracts high-profile tennis players and is now a firm favourite in the sporting calendar each year.
Mark started his hotel career on the South Coast after attending Eastbourne College of Arts and Technology. He was a De Vere Hotels Trainee Manager at the 5 Star Grand Hotel Eastbourne where he worked for four years before moving to The Royal Bath Hotel in Bournemouth. Gaining the position of Assistant Manager, various promotions followed including Food and Beverage Manager and finally House Manager. Mark continued his career at the Bellhouse Hotel in Beaconsfield as Deputy General Manager for four years.
He moved to Sussex as General Manager of Alexander House Hotel - a top quality establishment with a renowned reputation for service. During Mark’s tenure, the hotel achieved a vast array of awards, including a Gold Ribbon from the RAC; the highest rating from the AA (Red Stars) being in the top 200 rated hotels in the country, and the restaurant awarded with 3 Rosettes. The Hotel was also a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. While in Sussex, Mark was a member of various business organisations including The West Sussex Economic Forum and Standing Conference, Gatwick Hotels Association, as well as a member of The Mid Sussex Hotels Association.
He is known as a confident public speaker and shares a great passion for the hospitality industry. Attention to detail is an essential trait, with his inbuilt ability to see the smallest article and this has been a marker throughout his career. Mark gives his time to support many industry-related organisations. Currently, he is working as a volunteer for the Princes Trust and previously a Diploma Employer Champion for the hospitality diplomas launched in September 2009.
He was elected a member of HCIMA in 2002 and in 2008 a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality. He has served on the Sussex Branch and Thames Valley as a committee member. In October 2004 he was made a Chevalier of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne and an Ambassador for Buckinghamshire in November 2004. In June 2005 he became an Honorary Member of The 4th Prince of Wales Own Gurkha Rifles Officers Association. In July 2007 he became an Academician of the Champagne Academy and served as Vice-Chairman in 2013. In December 2007 he was made an Honorary Member of the Scots Guards Band. In March 2009 he was granted the freedom of the City of London. In April 2012 he was elected Fellow of the Hospitality Professionals Association and in October 2012 elected member of the Réunion des Gastronomes. In 2014 he was elected Chairman of the Champagne Academy and had served on the board of the Academy since 2008. In 2015 he was a founder member of the Hospitality Experts Consortium.
I joined my family’s firm of Fields Wine Merchants in Chelsea in the 1970’s with a view to being a part time temporary back up to my father and brother, but before long both had left, my brother to start up his own firm and then my father due to illness, and I was left running the business full time. A few years later I took a partner, John Owen, at that time the owner of Walton’s Restaurant and one of my customers, and we expanded the business into supplying many of London’s famous hotels and restaurants.
In 1976 I was invited to go on the Champagne Academy and duly arrived in Epernay with 11 other candidates to find that not only was I the only female, but that some of our hosts had not realized that they had a woman on the course for the first time, causing a few humorous logistics. In those days there were just 12 houses participating in the Academy and the course took two weeks, which included a weekend in Paris.
That time on the course was the most magical ever and one that I will never forget. We arrived at Paris airport to be met by André Rouzaud, of Louis Roederer who escorted us in a mini bus to Epernay. The next day started off at 9.00 a.m. on a Sunday morning with an introduction to Champagne by none other than Patrick Forbes of Moët et Chandon. Some of my amazing memories are of eating with gold cutlery at Louis Roederer, sitting next to Prince Guy de Polignac asking if I ever went to Monaco, in which case I should meet up with his cousin, Prince Rainier, not to mention dining with Madame Odette Pol Roger and being tutored in their tasting room by Paul, Remi and Henry Krug. The culmination of the course was being presented with my tie and certificate duly signed by all the houses with Monsieur crossed out and Madame hastily inserted! It is one of my proudest possessions. Some great friendships were made on the course and we still meet up regularly at CA events: Nick James, Mike Noble, Graham Franklin and Guy Boursot.
Retiring from the wine trade due to the long hours and lack of family time, I went to work for Gucci Timepieces as PA to the Chairman, Severin Wunderman and eventually moved to Birmingham where I became the regional representative for the Midlands and with the help of Kevin Skeet organised the annual dinner, a role that he has now taken over completely and with great success.
In 2008 I moved back to London, which coincided with the retirement of Jannet Oram as the CA Administrator and took over the role, a job that I very much enjoy.
Regional Organiser - Scotland
My career in the wine trade started in 1984 when I worked for Victoria Wine in London in the retail side of their operation. Following on from this I moved to Scotland and joined Forth Wines Ltd, a large regional wholesaler, where I worked for 11 years ending up as the buyer. I left Forth Wines in 2002 and for the next 7 years worked for myself, having started a small wholesale business. In 2009 I joined Corney & Barrow where I am now working in private client sales.
I attended the 2000 Champagne Academy course along with several current and past members of the committee. It was a fantastic week of hard work but also great fun and highly educational. I left the course feeling that I was as up-to-speed on Champagne and all its facets as I possibly could be. Surprisingly, considering the quality of the other candidates on my course, I won the Golden Magnum!
I have been organising the Scottish Dinner since 2000.