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.
Past Chairman - 2019
Past Chairman - 1978
My first ever day in France was spent at a lunch with Madame Bollinger, seated on her left. All the stories about that wonderful lady are true; she was a great ambassador for champagne in general and Bollinger in particular. It was a remarkable 10 days, with a collection of wines from the stellar 1966 vintage - a lifetime experience never to be forgotten and which influenced my future career in the food and wine industry.
The original Cork & Bottle Wine Bar (in Leicester Square), renown for its champagne sales, was my first Wine Bar. It was followed by Shampers, Bubbles, Methuselahs and, finally, Hanover Square Wine Bar & Grill.
In 1985 I wrote my first book, "Enjoying Wine". In 1989 I wrote my second, "The Glory of Champagne", which won the Lanson Award. Whilst researching this book I had lunch with Christian de Billy of Pol Roger and told him it was my birthday. He asked my vintage and two weeks later the doorman of the Savoy (in full livery) turned up at the Cork & Bottle with two bottles of Pol Roger's 1945 vintage. I cannot top that as a tasting experience in champagne drinking.
Now happily retired, I am a consultant to the Cork & Bottle Group, whose new owner Will Clayton continues the promotion of champagne as an Academy Committee member.
(Don sadly passed away on 10/03/2020)
Past Chairman - 2016
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 spent my year as Chairman in 2016 moving the Academy forward and instilling my passion for the Academy to others.
Past Chairman - 2018
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.
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.
Past Chairman - 2017
Kevin Skeet Past Chairman As Group Operations Director for Legacy Hotels and Resorts, I lead the General Managers in our business. With an eclectic mix of hotels, both new build and beautiful listed buildings, no two days are alike. With hotels from Preston to Southampton and both branded and independent, there is a new opportunity almost every day. My hospitality career started in Shrewsbury at the then independent Radbrook Catering College. I went on to train with Trust House Forte ending up as a General Manager. A keen working relationship with wine in general and Champagne in particular led me to the early 2000s, where I supported Valerie Simpson in arranging the Midlands Academy dinners. I 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. An incredible dinner with Pommery in Reims and a lunch with Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger and the late dearly missed Justin Llewelyn at Château de la Marquetterie, are memories that will stay with me forever. In 2017 I was honoured to take up the role of Chairman of the Academy, delivering my speech for the London dinner at Sea Containers House, with St Pauls behind me and a glass of my favourite tipple, Cuvee Louise 2002, what an occasion.
Past Chairman - 2014
A successful top-level leader with +20 years’ experience in the luxury hotel and hospitality industry. Adding strong short and long term commercial value lies at the heart of my approach. My specialisms include optimising operations, devising robust strategies, generating new revenue streams and addressing shortcomings.
Previously I was General Manager at Stoke Park, a leading country club with a worldwide reputation for excellence. Other career highlights include playing a pivotal role in the planning stages of the prestigious new London Dunhill Club in Mayfair and Wembley National Stadium. In 2009, I set up my own consultancy, Mark Fagan Associates, and since then I have been sought out by major clients such as The Royal Albert Hall, Kent County Council, Leeds Castle, Mid Kent College, Adanaiseig Hotel Scotland, Loyton Lodge, Big Ideas Group and Wasing Estate.
I am highly credible with strong commercial acumen, integrity and shrewd judgement. My engaging and energising leadership style achieves high-performance. I am willing to challenge constructively to achieve best possible outcomes. Well-qualified, I am a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality (FIH) and Hospitality Professionals Association (FHOSPA).
My career features numerous accolades and honours, including the Freedom of the City of London, Chevalier of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne and Ambassador for Buckinghamshire. In 2014, I was elected Chairman of the Champagne Academy, having served on the board of the Academy since 2008.
Highly strategic, I start with the end in mind; delivering a fresh, independent perspective, meticulous attention to detail and an inquiring mind. I handle challenges with dexterity, readily listen to alternative perspectives and communicate ideas persuasively.
Past Chairman - 1967
I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Autumn 1959 course at the age of 21.
My most memorable moment was being woken up in Ch. De Saran, at 7am, by the butler bringing' breakfast in bed with a bottle of Moet on the tray. My most humiliating was being beaten at tennis by none other than Christian de Billy How about a return fixture, Christian ?? I do remember seeing in Moet's Rogues Gallery' a perfect copy of a Moet & Chandon bottle (purchased in New York in 1948) with a back label 'Beware of French Imitations'
I commenced my career in the trade aged 19, going to Bordeaux University to study Oenology, and learning all I could about the Chateaux, vineyards etc. After nine months in Bordeaux, I spent a year working my way around Champagne, the Loire, Cognac, Alsace, Burgundy and the Midi. I wrapped up my 3 years in France, at a Wine Trade School in Paris on the Quai de Bercy.
On returning to London, I decided to collate all my various studies, writing 'The Science and Technique of Wine' first published in 1965. It became the recommended technical text book for the MW exam. I am proud to say it had four editions and sold over 20,000 copies.
In 1965 I acquired a controlling interest in Southard & Co. Ltd, a well known importer/wholesaler at that time. Using my knowledge of the Chateaux, and contacts throughout Bordeaux, I built up a broking division which became the largest in the country by the end of the 1960's. Looking at a price list dated July 1974, I'll quote a few prices 'you won't believe!
All 1970 vintage, prices ex cellars Bordeaux, per DOZEN bottles ! Haut Brion : £135 Lafite : £165 Latour: £161 Margaux: £135 Mouton: £ 170
I sold out my interest in Southards in 1976 and acquired a Bonded Warehouse, Joseph Barber and Co. (Est 1715) housed in railway arches under Fenchurch St. Station. They specialised in housing (and bottling) fine old Cognac, including HM Queen's. They were also important contract spirit bottlers for a number of London based exporters. In 1978 I stumbled across a small outfit, 'bagging' some Australian wines. With my technical background, I was fascinated at this form of packaging (developed in Australia). So I purchased their operation, and began the process of introducing 'Bag in Box' to the Wine Trade. Being contract packers we were in the ideal position to undertake the whole packing process for the large Companies to undertake 'Test Marketing'. In the first year I packed for, amongst others Stowells, Grants of St. James, Peter Dominic, Teltcher Bros. (Yugoslav Riesling) The Wine Society etc. etc. In fact in year one we packed for over 20 companies filling over 1 million bags. I was delighted that the following year, Stowells purchased their own 'bagging' machinery and launched a range under their own brand. This launch expanded the market exponentially, and Barbers increased their own volume, albeit with a smaller share of the market. SO YES, I have the dubious distinction of being the guy who introduced 'Bag in Box’ to the UK!
In 1984, I sold my interest in Joseph Barbers, and decided to help my Dad, (then in his seventies) in his retail wine shop 'Frumkin's' in the West End of London. Being around the corner to ITN, we had regular newscasters popping in for their daily tipple......to name but a few: Reggie Bosanquet, Trevor Macdonald, Carol Barnes and Sir Alistair Burnett. Being in the centre of the 'Rag Trade' the showrooms entertained their buyers royally.............with Champagne of course. I was informed on good authority, Frumkin's were the largest (single shop) retailer of Champagne in London. I had come a full circle.!!
After my Dad died in 1988, I decided to hang up my working shoes, and put on my cricket boots, figuratively speaking As I lived behind Lord's Cricket ground, I had a life long interest in the game, as a player, spectator and Member of the MCC. For the last 15 years, I have been a Tour Guide at Lord's. So just let me know when you want to have a look behind the scenes.
Finally, as I write, I am the oldest surviving Past Chairman of the Association, and hope the Corona Virus doesn't get me !! 'A Votre Sante
Past Chairman - 2008
Edward Harvey has created, developed and managed some of the most successful and esteemed restaurant and F&B concepts over three continents; starting his career in 1989 at The Savoy, London. After six years he entered employment with distinguished Swiss chef Anton Mosimann. In 1996 Harvey gained international experience at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Park Hyatt Tokyo and Hyatt Regency Macua. In 2003 Harvey was enlisted by JW Grosvenor House, Park Lane as hotel manager. He was elevated by Marriott International to new role as Food & Beverage Concept Development and Design for Middle East, UK & Ireland region and after a regional re-organisation lead Harvey to Corporate Director, Europe - Food & Beverage. Harvey left and became Managing Director, Commercial Director and General Manager - Tricon Foodservice Consultants, Dubai, delivering food & beverage strategy and concept development across Europe, Middle East and Africa. After Five successful years Harvey set up ELEVATE www.elevatefb.com. As Founding Principal and Director Harvey services client requirements across UK, Europe and Middle East from offices in London and Dubai.
Most memorable moment on my course was meeting like minded individuals passionate about Champagne and its Grand Marques. The farewell lunch at Les Crayeres was very special
In my chairman year I was fortunate to host Krug. Meeting the family and welcoming Remy Krug to London was most memorable.
Favourite tipple…..has to be Krug!
Past Chairman - 1981
Having read Economics and Law at Christ's College Cambridge 1961-64, I joined the Wine Trade!
October 1964- April 1995. J T Davies and Sons Ltd, Croydon, Surrey
September 1995-2001. The Wine and Spirit Trades Benevolent Society.
In 1966 I went on the Champagne Course. Besides visits to the 12 Grand Marque Houses, the course included a visit to Paris to experience the spectacle of the Moulin Rouge show.
In 2016, I organised a reunion attended by Alistair Robertson, Colin Brookes, Nick Raven, David Skinner, David Smyly, Paul Quellyn Roberts and Clive Walters. Christopher Leaver and John Armit were unable to attend. Geoffrey Van Hay and Roger Holroyd have passed away and Callum Murray disappeared.
In 1981 I became Chairman of the CA Old Boys after several years on the Committee. My London Banquet was held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Marble Arch. My guest speaker was the late Christopher Martin- Jenkins. Presidential House, Lanson
I assisted the late Peter Grubb, Chairman 1982, over the 25th Anniversary Celebrations. Events included a Banquet in the Mansion House and a visit to Champagne
For several years I organised an Old Boys Golf Team to Champagne. The French hosts, on the 9 hole course, included Jean-Marc Charles Heidseick, Henri Krug and Andre Rouzard with Jean Baptiste Lanson always around to host us.
Past Chairman - 2009
I started working in the cellars for Payne & Gunter in 1983 working at many events from the Open Golf, Henley Regatta, PGA European Tour which is where my love of Champagne began. The Champagne Tent at the golf were always busy. Payne & Gunter was bought by the Compass Group in 1998. In 2005 I joined Delaware North Companies to open Wembley Stadium and Emirates Stadium. After 38 years in the Hospitality Industry I left Delaware to work as a buyer.
I was invited to join the Champagne Academy Course in 2000 attending a fantastic week making lifelong friends and learning so much about champagne. At the Autumn event that year I was asked to join the committee with a specific task of managing the stock for our events a job that I am still doing today.
I became Chairman in 2009 and had a fantastic year with some excellent champagnes and dinners which I have fond memories and felt very honoured to have been Chairman.
The change of one of the tastings to offer the Champagne houses to show a style of their choice has been a great success and educational
Past Chairman - 2002
Industry Experience / current role
Owned and Managed several Wine Bars over in the heyday years of the 80’s. Moved into Event Managing first working for Millburn’s within the V&A The British Museum and The Globe Theatre and then running my own business. For the past 16 years I have held the Catering Contract for a large Property company in central London retiring from that post last August.
Memorable Moment/ Champagne from your year on course 1986
1986 – Was the first year that 2 women had attended the course!! Caroline Mack ( Symington as she is now and myself! ) A truly memorable evening was spent at the beautiful Chateau de Saran ( owned by Moet & Chandon) Only three of the course were able to stay there - so along with Caroline and Lance Jefferson I watched the sun go down over the beautiful grounds being entertained by the lovely English couple who were then Caretakers- drinking Magnums of Moet until the early hours.
Fond but difficult times memories of being Chairman --
Being Chairman isn’t always about the Champagne and the good times ( as all past Chairman will confirm!) In 2002 during my Chairmanship – attendance figures by both Academicians at the Events was poor and the representation of Houses was low. The Committee and myself felt we needed to act to address these issues and arranged a trip to France to meet with all the Houses to discuss our worries and to see how the Houses actually felt about the Academy and its role over in the UK.
Frank and open discussions with the representatives from the Houses were a huge success and we were able to agree and implement certain changes which we believed would strengthen the ‘Old Boys’ Association, ensuring its relevance and importance into the future.Firstly it was agreed that from 2003 each Academician was able to invite a guest to the Annual Dinner ( before only Academicians were allowed to attend !)Secondly the process of nominating and electing the candidates for the yearly course was tweaked to ensure that the most appropriate and enthusiastic were put forward and we also agreed that one place would be given to a WSET candidate who had shown particular interest and knowledge of Champagne AND we purchased the Champagne Academy.co.uk domain for exactly £10.00 !! to bring us into the ever evolving world of IT!
Memories from Our 50th Anniversary Celebrations
I was also lucky to be asked to organise ( from this end of the channel !) our 50th Anniversary celebrations held in July 2006 over in France. There are so many wonderful memories of heavenly lunches dinners ( and the odd bottle or Magnum !) with old friends from the UK and France – but the two memories I hold most dear are The Garden Party held at Moet & Chandon on a lovely Summers Day and the 16 special Vintage Champagnes from each House ( chosen by each Chef de Cave ) which were auctioned by a Bonhams Auctioneer at our 50th Celebration dinner at the Savoy organised by David Garlick our Chairman that year. Wow!!
Cuvee Louise Pommery ( Any vintage – but the 1995 was stunning !!! )
Past Chairman - 1992
I have now retired from full time work in the wine trade having initially been involved from the late seventies in wholesaling European wines and champagnes in London and the south of England having formed a company called Whiclar Wines circa 1973. My grandmother was French and part of the Chandon family which explained my interest in champagne
Whiclar metamorphosed into a company pioneering in the importation of Austrailian wines (Penfods) in 1985 and subsequently Hardys and Peter Lehmann wines in 1990 where I remained CEO until 2007.I also became involved the importation of Chilean wines from Caliterra and subsequently other Chilean producers in 1988. At Peter Lehmann we also handled other wines from South Africa as well as Argentina. I continue to sell wines to my contacts on a private customer basis as so many of us seem to do.
It was in 1980 when I went on the Academy course having been selected by Charles Heidsieck when Jean Marc was in charge. I remember it as being the year that Krug was the presidential house. What an introduction it was to the region and its delicious wines .I remember reading Patrick Forbes’s book on champagne from cover to cover. I won the silver magnum ice bucket that year.
I was fortunate enough to become chairman of the Old boys in 1992 when Krug was presidential house again. I think I have been more fortunate than many others to have drunk more than my share of Krug rose. Remy Krug was in charge then.
The dinner I organised was at Claridges. This was definitely a very memorable event as were the 2 Anniversary weekends in France.
All spectacular with lots of good friends. Very memorable.
Past Chairman - 1985
1985; a pivotal year in my life. Chairmanship of the Old Boys Association was accompanied by my partner (Nicholas Baile MW and Academy Old Boy) and I selling our 50 wine merchant shop chain Oddbins. The buyer, Seagram became my employer. As UK agent for Mumm time and expense was generously afforded to perform my not particularly onerous duties.
These included, of course, the organization of the London Dinner. Vice-Chair and restaurant-wise Douglas Oram recommended that we approach Anton Mosimann then head chef at the wondrous restaurant in the Dorchester Hotel.
Anton responded with great enthusiasm. Catching the zeitgeist of mid-80’s life style aspirations he had only just published the healthy living inspired cookbook, Cuisine Naturelle. What more fitting than a prestigious dinner to show off a food revolution delivered in dishes shorn of excessive fats, much sugar and even alcohol? In their place, fresh herbs, light and delicate bouillons, poached and grilled fish and meat in portions that seemed well, somewhat short of banquet-sized.
How did all this go down with us Old Boys? Generally there was politely bemused reactions and some bafflement….”Call that a proper size for a fillet steak?” “Where’s the sauce?” In short where was the near-Rabelaisian style of past repasts?
Anton also was keynote speaker offering the underlying principles of Cuisine Naturelle with evangelical enthusiasm accompanied by a slide presentation depicting healthy fit and cheerful people doing healthy fit and cheerful things.
It was all a bit too much for your average Old Boy circa 1960-1980. And yet…Where do we stand on all this now? Bang In line with Anton Mosimann and his principles and vision I would say. And somewhat chastened that in 1985 we weren’t more appreciative and didn’t have a little more foresight in this respect.
Past Chairman - 2013
I remember when I first got the invitation to attend the champagne Academy, I had been running my restaurant, ‘Dibbens’, for under a year and had yet to leave my new baby in the hands of my team. The team promised to behave and I was pushed out the door to meet the other candidates at Heathrow Airport. My week in the champagne region opened my eyes to this amazing wine and started my obsession about secondary fermentation. Great friendships were made with my fellow academicians and many of the champenoise who I visit very regularly.
For me, champagne is a life style and when I was in the Chair, I hosted my dinner in the gilded hall of the Goldsmiths Livery Company. The room, lit by a 300 candle chandelier, was a fit setting for the great wines we served, with trumpet fanfares that had been composed for the evening and a bit of Opera, all my loves were bought together in one event.
I am not going to upset anyone by stating my favourites, but I will say that being part of the Academy is an honour and pleasure when tasting the range of the 16 houses and I am a great fan of the Autumn tasting when the Houses present one of their interesting Cuvees.
Past Chairman - 1973
I was invited to go on the Champagne Academy in June 1964, sponsored by G H Mumm, whose UK agents at the time were De Ville & Co Ltd.
In those days there were only 12 Grandes Marques Houses.
One particular memory I have was being driven in Madam Roederer's Cadillac by her chauffeur around the once Rheims Grande Prix track, touching 100mph on our way to the Rheims Golf Club for lunch.
I became Chairman in 1973 and our Annual Dinner was held at The Savoy Hotel. Over the years in the Wine Trade I have represented Pommery & Greno, Ruinart, Veuve Clicquot and Joseph Perrier (not part of the Grandes Marquees).
Enjoying most of all, drinking Mumm, Cordon Rouge.
Eight of us held a 30th Anniversary Reunion Dinner at Boodles Club in London
in 1994. Then in 2014, 4 of us held a 50th Anniversary Reunion lunch again at Boodles and in November last year the same 4 met up again to celebrate 55 years. Long may it continue and flourish
Past Chairman - 1988
In 1985 I moved to Thresher, part of the Whitbread Group. There were many changes to the retail off licensed companies during the 80s and 90s culminating in the merger of Thresher and Victoria Wine in 1997. In 2001 I left First Quench, as the company had been renamed and took over from another past Chairman of The Academy, David Skinner, at The Benevolent, where I remained until retirement in 2006.
I was fortunate to be invited to join the Academy Course in 1970 for the hugely enjoyable and educative 10 day course. One of the highlights was drinking Krug 1928, which Henri Krug produced and asked us to guess the vintage. No one got close but we all recognised it as superb. I seem to recall him saying that it had been disgorged that morning.
We were lucky enough to share a glass of Ratafia with Madame Bollinger, who was a legend to us all and who was still running the firm at that time. We were invited into her drawing room and I remember thinking what an honour it was. Other memories certainly include the week-end in Paris when we made up for the lack of red wine on offer during the week. After the exam, which we all passed, but some with more distinction than others I remember being interviewed by Paul Krug, who was an imposing man. He looked at me over his glasses and said something like ‘’Youngman, I suppose you have learned something since you have been here’’. Until then I thought I had done reasonably well.
I became Chairman in 1988 when the Presidential House was Louis Roederer, with Jean Claude Rousseau at the helm and it was a relatively quiet but enjoyable year following the expansion from 12 to 16 Houses. The London dinner was held at The Piccadilly Hotel which had recently been renovated and renamed Le Meridien, Piccadilly.
Past Chairman - 1987
Douglas Oram, now retired, spent his entire working life in the Hospitality Industry.
He began as a management trainee at Grand Metropolitan Hotels, after which he moved to the Dorchester as assistant banqueting manager. Subsequently he became assistant to the General Manager and then purchasing manager of Centre Hotels, which was acquired by Crest Hotels.
After three years he returned to the Dorchester as purchasing manager.
He then became purchasing director of Comfort Hotels International, where he remained for ten years. When they were acquired by Ladbroke, he joined Metropole Hotels as group purchasing manager, until they were taken over by Stakis in November 1996.
He retired in 2002.
He is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality.
He was chairman of the academy in 1987 and particularly remembers a meeting with Claude DeVos, from the Presidential House, Pommery, whose opening words were “Well, now we are sixteen”. After many years, the number of Houses in the Academy had been increased from the original twelve.
He was fortunate enough to enjoy several meals at Les Crayeres in Reims in its heyday and has fond memories of sitting on the terrace enjoying his favourite tipple, a glass of brut.
Past Chairman - 1989
I was invited to join the Academy in 1981. At that time I was selling large quantities of Champagne to the Night Clubs of London.
The Academy course was remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, the quality of the lessons we were given each morning were first class, and gave one a true understanding of the work that went into the production of Champagne. Secondly, the visits in the afternoon to trades associated with its production were also most informative and thirdly the amount of Champagne that was consumed by all on the course was quite amazing!
One evening, before we had dinner with one of our hosts, we were wandering along the back streets of Rheims and discovered a shop which sold a Salmanazar which turned out to be an indoor firework.
This immediately threw ideas into my head, and it was quickly purchased and smuggled into our final exam. At an appropriate moment, it was let off and the room was filled with an array of Champagne paraphernalia. Needless to say, I did not gain the accolade of Academician of the year!
On our return through Paris, it was then the obligatory night at the Lido, where we were asked if we would join in the magic show
The time on the Course was a wonderful source of knowledge, combined with fun and entertainment. Long may it continue.
Charles Minoprio MW
Past Chairman - 1986
I went on the Champagne Academy course in June 1962 and stayed, memorably,with Pol Roger. It was true that PR always knew before anyone else of the movements of Sir Winston Churchill, as his beloved Pol Roger would be sent ahead to wherever he was going. When I was at PR, an order for, I think, 2 dozen arrived with instructions for delivery to Aristotle Onassis's yacht in the Med.
I remember the course with great pleasure, particularly the visit to the Lido, but I do remember vividly the effect of the continuous consumption of the somewhat acidic Champagne. Our hosts resisted all our efforts to get some red wine on the table! Having said that, the hospitality was amazing and I have remained 100% loyal to the Grandes Marques ever since.
I was Chairman in 1986 and remember that fortuitously, Pol Roger was the Presidential house. My guest speaker at the annual dinner was Sir Christopher Soames, son in law of Sir Winston and ex ambassador to Paris. We dined in the magnificent Art Deco ballroom of the Park Lane Hotel. He had some fascinating stories to tell of his visit to Russia at the height of the cold war. He was probably Minister of Agriculture in about 1960 and went out to look at the hopeless system of collective farming, which guaranteed starvation for the majority.
I have always during my time with Grants of St. James's and Hatch Mansfield been associated with Grandes Marques and am pleased to say that I have visited Ch. de Saran several times - what a great place is Champagne and its people!