• On-trade buyers on what it means to join Champagne Academy

    The great and the good of the UK on-trade have taken the journey in to the Champagne Academy celebrating and being educated on all things Champenois along the way. Here we talk to two new graduates, Julien Angot at the Lancaster Hotel and Peter Alderin of Searcys, on what it means for their careers.

    The great and the good of the UK on-trade have taken the journey in to the Champagne Academy celebrating and being educated on all things Champenois along the way. Here we talk to two new graduates, Julien Angot at the Lancaster Hotel and Peter Alderin of Searcys, on what it means for their careers.

    mm By July 22, 2016

    The Champagne Academy continues to welcome fresh new talent from the UK on-trade eager to discover and find out more about this unique world wine region. We ask two new graduates what the Diploma means to them and their careers.

    This year the Champagne Academy celebrates 60 years of educating, supporting and honouring leading figures of the on-trade. In June the latest set of 16 students were able to visit Champagne and meet principals and winemakers of Grande Marque Champagne Houses, visit their vineyards and cellars and take part in specialist tutored tastings.

    But they also have to sing for their supper and each day also includes tests, culminating in the final exam to see whether they will be awarded the prestigious Champagne Academy Diploma and invited to join The Champagne Academy.

    The Champagne Academy is one of the few occasions when the Grande Marques and senior Champagne Houses put local competition aside for the common good of the region. It is made up of 16 participating Houses incuding: Bollinger, Charles Heidsieck, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Heidsieck Monopole, Krug, Lanson, Laurent Perrier, Moët & Chandon, GH Mumm & Co, Perrier-Jouët, Piper Heidsieck, Pommery, Pol Roger, Louis Roederer, Ruinart and Taittinger.

    Julien Angot, F&B assistant operations manager, Lancaster Hotel, London

    Why did you want to get involved in the Champagne Academy?

    Having worked at Searcys Champagne Bar for five years, this trip was a great chance try some fantastic Champagnes, meet great people and network with professionals of the industry.

    What did you think of the recent trip and what were the key lessons you brought back to your business and for your role?

    The trip was fantastic – the visits and meetings, lunches and dinners.

    Would you recommend the Champagne Academy to other buyers? If so why.

    Anytime. This is a once in a lifetime trip. It is intense and so full of flavours. It’s exciting and also gives you the chance to be part of the academy – the old boys –  once back in the UK.

    What did you learn most from the trip?

    You learn a lot about the versatility of Champagne as a product. From its style, the influence of the Methode Champenoise, the way Champagne is matured, the vintages. There are so many variables for this unique product, for each house, cuvée and vintage.

    How do you think having the diploma/ the extra education is going to help with your day to day work and career?

    When it comes to choosing your house Champagne, or making a Champagne list, knowledge is key. The course has been very good in helping you better understand what to expect from a good Champagne, but also how are you going to sell it to your customers? Are you looking at your cost first or the emotional link?  How are you going to up sell Champagne over Prosecco for instance?

    The Academy gives you the insight into the world of Champagne, the fragility of the grapes, the length of the ageing, and how the barrels are made.

    What aspects of it do you think could be improved?

    A wider understanding of the Champagne world, the category as a whole, and its size would be useful.

    The focus on small technical details won’t help buyers when selling each of the houses. Perhaps more of a focus on the issues facing Champagne, such as the evolution of marketing, the emergence of Prosecco and other sparkling wines around the world.

    How do you see the Champagne category overall in terms of style, trends and opportunities?

    Champagne was and remains an amazing luxury brand. It is still the number one brand associated with parties, celebration and special occasions. New styles are also emerging which are interesting and we are seeing different ways it which it an be  served in the on-trade. Like with ice.

    How are Champagne sales doing in our own business compared to sparkling and Prosecco?

    Whilst managing different types of on-trade outlet, you notice each one has its own trends and styles. While Prosecco fits in brasserie style restaurants and can be unlimited in a brunch environment, Champagne remains at the top of the sparkling chain. Both in term of sales, volume and revenue.

    What types of Champagne are most popular and the best price point at the Lancaster?

    Brut is always popular as it can fit a larger group. We have been working hard to associate a different Champagne House with a specific event or theme. Our afternoon tea with art, for example,  works well with Pommery, not only on the taste but because Pommery sponsored Art 16 and has its famous galleries in their cellar in Reims.

    Peter Alderin, general manager at Searcys who is in charge of two restaurants, Osteria and Bonfire, as well as looking after event catering at the Barbican. 

    Peter Alderin tasting Clos du Mesnil in Clos du Mesnil
    Peter Alderin tasting Clos du Mesnil in Clos du Mesnil

    Why did you want to get involved in the Champagne Academy?

    Having worked five years at Searcys St Pancras Champagne bar as a general manager , I started to get the understanding of this most amazing drink and everything that goes with it. Now it has become a passion and I have always felt like an Champagne ambassador, so when the invite came to take part in the Academy it was  an fantastic opportunity to learn more and to be able to talk about Champagne on a different level to people.  Its such a privilege to join the club to0.

    What did you think of the recent trip and what were the key lessons you brought back to your business and for your role? 

    Where do I start , the trip is one of the best experiences I have had, the hospitality, history, passion and friendliness is beyond a job its their life.  I took back so much more than a represented would not be able to teach you at work.  I can now teach my staff and guests the extra to understand Champagne and create a better experience when drinking it.

    What did you find particularly useful for your own career? 

    I found the marketing and sales lesson really interesting as a restaurateur. The insight in to the grey and emerging markets and future business opportunities. 

    Would you recommend the Champagne Academy to other buyers? If so why.

    Oh, yes. Why? They would learn 80% more about Champagne and could sell it a lot easier.

    What aspects of it do you think could be improved? 

    The lessons where great but I think the tests needed to be clearer. It was difficult enough as it was.

    How do you see the Champagne category overall in terms of style, trends and opportunities? 

    There is a massive opportunity with food pairing. We as a trade are not doing enough here. We only really serve Champagne mainly with canapés. It is also nice with a five course dinner.  I believe the flute will soon be a thing of the past.  As Oliver Krug says with his social media hashtag – #noflute.

    How are Champagne sales doing in our own business compared to sparkling/Prosecco? 

    It is always performing well as I am such a Champagne fan. At Searcys St Pancras I delisted Prosecco and it worked.  One of the restaurants I work with is Italian and it’s more of an even sale with Prosecco.

    What types of Champagne are most popular and what is the best price point? 

    It tends to be the Champagnes that people have heard about, but if you have trained staff you can sell the grower market too.  Price points work best between £50 -£120.

    * Main picture caption: Julien Angot receives his prize from (left to right) Catherine Curie, Piper Heidsieck, 2015 Presidential house,
    Hubert de Billy, Pol Roger, 2016 Presidential House, Benedict Lemkecher, Vranken-Pommery,  2017 Presidential House.
    * If you would like to know more about the Champagne Academy and how to get involved in future trips or how to take part in its Diploma then go to its website here or contact Val Simpson at The Champagne Academy on: champagneacademy@yahoo.co.uk

     

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