European Champagne Charlie, er, Ambassador Awards 2010

I always imagine ambassadors to be outfitted in what the English call Morning Dress with top hats, tails and spats, possibly sporting monocles, much like the little guy that is the mascot of the board game Monopoly. Having attended the 2010 Champagne Ambassadors Award dinner recently, I was sorely disappointed to see not a tail, spat or monocle in sight but the champagne (among them, magnums of Gosset Grande Reserve, one of my favourites) was free-flowing which did much to assuage my disappointment. All kidding aside, the European Champagne Ambassadors Award is actually a competition organized by the CIVC to raise interest in Champagne while also recognizing all those hard working wine educators who train the next generation of sommeliers and educate the general public on the joys and mysteries of champagne. The competition is open to wine education professionals in the 8 European countries where the CIVC has a bureau and attracts many candidates, from MW’s to journos and every one in between. The selection process is rigorous, beginning with a lengthy written application open from April to July. After the judges have whittled down the top 3 or 4 candidates in each country, they are invited to the country’s national final in September where they are then put through a tasting and a test on their knowledge of champagne. This culminates in the top candidate from each country travelling to the Champagne region, for one week in October, where they visit various champagne houses, from Krug to the smallest one man operation, they get to see it all. As Laura Clay, the UK representative said “just being able to come to Champagne for a week and meet the growers, visit the vineyards and drink all this lovely champagne is prize enough.”   Once here, the candidates get to gallivant around the Champagne countryside, I mean, have an extremely educational tour throughout Champagne for four days before the final selection process to choose the European Champagne Ambassador. The final consists of two oral...

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