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10 Questions with Elisabeth Drysdale

10 Questions With..., Drink / May 13, 2015

Secret Foodies recently hosted Champagne S’il Vous Plait, an educational and delicious event all about Champagne. Elisabeth Drysdale from the Champagne Bureau of Australia joined us for the evening to speak with the guests about the magic of Champagne and her role in the industry. We caught up with Elisabeth afterwards to ask her some more questions to share with you all. Cheers!

Elisabeth, what do you do at the Champagne Bureau?
The Champagne Bureau represents the Comité Champagne. The enhancement and protection of the Champagne appellation ranks high among the Comités priorities. Our main objectives are the defence of the “Appellation Champagne”, educating people that only Champagne comes from Champagne, increasing the market awareness of Champagne wines and strengthening the image and market position of Champagne Wines in Australia.

As Bette Davis once said “There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.” At your event, was a great opportunity to showcase the diversity of Champagne and to show that Champagne is a wine that easily matches with food and can be enjoyed throughout a meal.

Is Australia a big market for Champagne consumption?
Australia is an important market for Champagne and last year imports to Australia totalled 6 524 220 bottles which makes Australia the 6th largest market in the world in terms of importing. Recent figures also show that per capita of Champagne consumption is one bottle for every four people, placing Australia in the top five countries for Champagne consumption in the world.

How old is Champagne as a category?
Champagne is one of oldest vine growing regions in the world that dates back to before Christianity, and its vineyard boundaries have been defined by France’s appellation system since 1927. Despite its famous reputation, the origins of the Champagne appellation lie in its unique terrior. Many champagnes’ character is due to the harshness the climate, and a unique combination of soil, deep chalk sub-soil and grape varieties. The talent of the winemaker who creates a blend that expresses the particular style of each producer or house.

Do you need to age Champagne wines for a certain amount of time before it can be called Champagne?
All Champagne wines must spend at least 15 months ageing in the producer’s cellars. This increases to three years for Vintage Champagne and considerably longer for the Special Cuvees.

What were some of the types of Champagnes we had at Secret Foodies? 

We had some very special wines for your foodies to enjoy. One being a Blanc de Noir, which is exclusively from the black grapes, being Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. We also had a beautiful Rose. Rosé Champagne is made via maceration of whole, uncrushed black grapes, or by blending white wines with a ‘still’ red Champagne.

How should we be tasting these Champagnes?
To explore these aromas, first look at the colour of the wine, bringing the wine to your nose and seeing what you can smell, then of course taking a drink and finding out what you can taste on your palate. You can always refer to tasting notes but everyone’s palette is very different so it’s nice to make your own notes as you go.

What is the trick behind matching your dish with Champagne?
Matching food to Champagne is easier than you think. Champagne is such a diverse wine that exhibit a wide variety of aromas, so you can match Champagne from the aperitif right through to dessert.  With the aperitif and entrée serve a lively blanc de blancs Champagne (100% Chardonnay grapes) or non- vintage. Think Oysters, white fish and shellfish. With a main course and dessert, serve a more rounded  and powerful Champagne with lasting softness and opulence like a Vintage or Rose. Its best to avoid anything with really strong flavours or foods that are too salty, smoky or greasy.

What do you love to EAT with a flute of Champagne? 

That’s a tough question. I recently ate at Quay and the whole experience was beautiful. The textures of the food, the theatre, the Champagne and the location were amazing. At the moment, I am really liking recently opened Barrel Bar and Dining in Cremorne and I can’t go past Japanese food, especially Sokyo. Although I do like to cook, so I really prefer dinner at home with friends and family enjoying a flute or two.

Where is your favourite place to DRINK Champagne in Sydney?

I absolutely love the Lodge wine bar. Its small, intimate and cosy with a great wine list and fab food that comes out of a tiny kitchen. Importantly the service is friendly and spot on and they love matching food and Champagne.

When your evening starts with a champagne, where do you like to PLAY in Sydney?

When I get to play, I do love going to the theatre, listening to any type of live music or just popping into one of my local pubs such as the Balmain or East Village. I think I need to work on the Play component in my life!

To read more about the Secret Foodies event click here.

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