Heard it Through the Grapevine: with Liz Palmer

Ahh, Champagne! There’s just nothing else like it. It’s the drink ubiquitous with luxury and celebration. Whether you’re toasting to a special occasion or just in the mood to #TreatYoSelf – the answer is always: “Champagne!”

Yet so much of Champagne – as a beverage and as a region – remains a mystery to even the most savvy of consumers. Even we as Sparkling Winos are constantly finding new elements to explore and new producers to seek out. Cue Liz Palmer’s “The Ultimate Guide to Champagne”… an invaluable resource! 😍 From the historical narrative, to the travel guide aspect, to economics and etiquette – everything is covered in a thorough, organized, and effervescent way. You’ll be hard pressed to put the book (and your glass of Champagne) down! 😉

Whether you are a wine expert, or a wine newbie, if you’ve ever had any unanswered questions about the worlds most prized sparkling wine – “The Ultimate Guide to Champagne” is for you. Liz pays respect to the history, technology, innovation and tradition of the region and wine style, all the while putting special attention on the amazing women in the industry, and provides a succinct and engaging narrative. Peppered with Liz’s personal photos of her journey through this beautiful region of France, you can’t help but feel you’re there with her, enjoying a glass of Bollinger Rosé on the square in front of Reims’ beautiful cathedral. Curious about what to eat when you’re there? Which Champagne to choose with your meal? Or, perhaps, trying to find the perfect service temperature for that special bottle? Liz has you covered.

Perhaps what we found the most exciting about Liz Palmer’s “The Ultimate Guide to Champagne” is that the author achieves the (almost) unachievable: explaining everything you need to know about Champagne in one compact book! So kudos Liz, on the ultimate, and most perfect title: the book really is the Ultimate Guide!

We had the chance to meet Liz recently, and talk all about her Ultimate Guide and all things effervescent over a glass of Rosè Champagne. So grab yourself a glass of the good stuff, sit back, and check out our interview with Liz Palmer below!

You are one of the preeminent voices in the realm of Champagne. Can you tell us about where your passion for sparkling wine came from?

There were two instances: when I first started studying at International Sommelier Guild a number of years ago, I found champagne to be complex and mysterious, and wanted to learn more; I also had the opportunity to travel to the region on a number of occasions (when my son was living in Paris) and once there I fell in love – I felt like I had to write a book on this fascinating region!

You’re also a Dame Chevalier de Coteaux de Champagne! Can you tell is a bit about the organization.

The Ordre Des Coteaux De Champagne, one of the most notable Champagne fraternities in the world, is driven by celebrating the wines of Champagne and their diversity. Membership of the Ordre is granted exclusively to selected wine experts, professional restaurateurs, sommeliers who have contributed significantly to the commemoration and development of Champagne.

There are three ranks in the Ordre Des Coteaux De Champagne: Chevalier, Officier and Chambellan.

During the mid-17th century a group of aristocrats at the court of Louis the XIVth, namely: Mortemart, Ollonne, Brousse and the satirist Saint-Evremont, founded the Ordre. They were wine connoisseurs and particularly fond champagne from the three “coteaux” (hillsides) Ay, Avenay and Hautvillers. Hence the name given to this association “Ordre des Coteaux”. It disappeared shortly before the revolution. Around 1956 a group of “champenois” led by Roger Gaucher and Francois Tatittinger decided to revive the “Ordre des Coteaux”. Taittinger, Laurent-Perrier, and Mumm were among the founding members.

I was inducted as a Dame Chevalier de Coteaux de Champagne on April 7, 2017. The black-tie award ceremony and dinner took place at Ministere des Affairs Etrangers, Paris, with over 300 members of the Ordre, guests and honorees which included restaurateurs, sommeliers, and personalities from the world of politics, media, stage and music.

I recently attended the Chapitre des Vendanges, at the beautiful historic Palais du Tau, Reims, and it was such an honour to be amongst Champagne royalty.

My goal is to obtain the next level as “Officer” in the next few years.

Your book “The Ultimate Guide To Champagne” has received the National Award for the best French Wine Book at the Gourmand World Awards 2017. It’s also extremely comprehensive! What inspired you to take on this project?

I’m also excited to announce that I’ve just won two more US book awards!

The 2017 Best Book Awards – USA with over 2,000 books

“Winner” in the “Best Interior Design” category

”Finalist” in the “Travel: Guides & Essays” category

“Finalist” in the “Cookbooks: International” category (unfortunately there was no wine category,)

What a great way to end the year!!!

In my previous job I did a lot of law research and I’m very good at organizing, so I decided to embark on getting a book coach to direct me into this chapter of my life. It took me a number of years to get it compiled, while working fulltime, and I never looked back!

Are there any fun memories you have from preparing “The Ultimate Guide To Champagne” that you can share with us?

There are so many! Here are a few that stand out: driving the country roads and getting lost many times and in one instance we ended up staying at a farm gite with cows greeting us at the front door and dogs coming into our room – it was so funny!

My daughter and I were walking down Champagne Avenue on one trip and she said I can smell and feel the bubbles in my head! We both burst out laughing.

As one of the four founding international hosts for #ChampagneDay, how did you celebrate our favourite #hashtagholiday this year?

This year we had a champagne team celebration – with champagne I recently brought back! For 2018 I will be collaborating with others for a large event.

Interest in Champagne, and sparkling wine as a whole, has grown exponentially in the past few years. Where do you think Champagne – as a brand, experience and wine – will go in the near future?

Due to the problems of climate change and other sparkling wines on the global market, ultimately Champagne has to concentrate on continuing to achieve the very best, highest quality and continued consistency. They are still on top of the luxury market with vintage Champagnes and prestige cuvees.

Ontario winemakers are producing a greater number of sparkling wines and interest among consumers is increasing. What do you think makes Ontario such a great place to produce sparkling wine?

It’s interesting to note that the number of Ontario wineries producing sparkling wines rose from 47 in 2013 to 68 in 2017. The key here is both the cool comate and limestone soils for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.

Now for our favourite question… if you were to order a glass of Champagne at a restaurant, what would it be?

This is a very difficult question, it depends on the day, time of day, mood and who I’m with!

Liz Palmer

For more on Liz (and to buy her awesome book “The Ultimate Guide to Champagne”) visit Liz Palmer online!