If you haven’t tried them before, gougères are wonderful fluffy, cheesy choux pastries that you serve as appetisers.
1989 – The year when Champagnes and Châteaux was created. We started to think about what happened in 1989 and it all came rushing back! For a start, what did we do with our hands when we didn’t have mobile phones? How did we spend our time before social media?
1989 was the year that saw the Thatcher years coming to an end with her last year at Downing Street. The fall of the Berlin Wall was an amazing world event to witness. Following the fall of the wall, US President George H Bush and Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev met to discuss the ending of the Cold War. Salman Rushdie became public enemy no 1 with the release of his book The Satanic Verses and in Paris, the Eiffel Tower was beautifully adorned for its 100 years of celebration of the centennial of the French Revolution. For more fun trivia, Coming to America was at the time a blockbuster at the cinemas, Madonna was singing Like a Prayer, a young Neneh Cherry was bursting on the scene with her Buffalo Stance, the Madchester music scene was just taking off and The Simpsons first appeared on our screens. Oh and Daniel Radcliffe and Taylor Swift were just born…
Now back to Champagnes and Châteaux 30 years ago. Christophe Galez arrived in London from Reims to set up Champagnes and Châteaux with the support of Alain Thiénot. At the very beginning, Christophe didn’t have an office and his flat was a makeshift office. He then moved with his small team to his first office in 1990. Then came the wine shop in Fulham Broadway in the early nineties. Our first customers were Café du Marché in Farringdon, Woods in Bath and Gravier’s, which we proudly can say that we are still working together after 30 years!
On our first list, a bottle of Champagne Thiénot NV was £11.50 and Château Rahoul vintage 1984 was £7.65 – well it was 30 years ago after all! We were selling Thiénot and Bordeaux properties and our list was about 10 pages…it is now 70 and packed with some fantastic wines from across the world but still with a strong French influence. Throughout the years, we discovered new producers and introduced Italian wines to our portfolio in 2000.
The millennium brought us renowned Brunello producer Tenute Nardi (fabulous photo of Emilia Nardi in the 80s) and many other prestigious Italian Agencies. Then followed Spain and New World. Some of these relationships with our producers date back from very early on. It is amazing to still be selling some of those wines and we are still blown away by their quality, like it was the first time.
So, what’s new for Champagnes and Châteaux in 2019?
For a start, we love our new online shop! It was launched towards the end of 2018 and it has allowed us to reach a brand new audience as we have always been selling to the wine trade.
We are so pleased that our growers at Dourthe have gone through an extensive and rigorous process and are now 100% certified Terra Vitis and HVE3 (Haute Valeur Environnementale). Many of our suppliers are doing more for the environment and their people. Growers such as Domaine Jean- Marc Lafont in Beaujolais have just had their HVE3 certificate and we are expecting more growers to follow.
At the end of 2018, we met up with the people behind the Sydonios glasses. If you have ever tasted a wine in their glass, you know it is the ultimate tasting experience. Please do get in touch with us if you want to serve them in your restaurant. We guarantee you’d never want to taste another wine in a different glass!
Towards the festive season of 2018, Street Artist Speedy Graphito and Thiénot released their second Limited Edition magnum. We are glad that we stocked up as they sold out in France. They look super impressive! We have also some dummies in stock, which would look great on a bar.
In other exciting news, as you know, Canard-Duchêne has been the Champagne partner of Regents Park Open Air Theatre for many years now and we are particularly excited this year as we are partnering with the much awaited musical, Evita!
As always, we wouldn’t be here without our customers so we would like to thank you all for contributing to a great 2018 and look forward to a very exciting 2019 working with you during our 30th birthday!