This Weekend: Open cellars in France’s Champagne Region

La Route du Champagne en Fête takes place this Saturday and Sunday in France’s Champagne region.  The villages of Côte des Bar will offer special performances, exhibitions, dining and a chance to sample some exceptional bubbly!

You can expect the festivities to have a true local flavor and you have a chance to  tour Champagne caves and sample Champagne with special-edition champagne flutes, which are available at tourist offices and welcome points along the route.

Liz Palmer

The “OenoPass” Launched last week in the Champagne Region

Launched last week by the Champagne region is the wine tourist friendly “OenoPass”.

The idea is simple and ingenious –  Visitors pre-pay 50Euros and have access to ten plus participating partner venues include Champagne houses and Champagne cultural and historical points of interest.

OenoPass is best adapted to tourists who have a car. Participating properties include: Champagne de Castellane in Épernay, Cristallerie Royale de Champagne et Musée du cristal in Bayel, and the Drappier Champagne Estate in Urville, Champagne G.H. Mumm located in Reims, Domaine Pommery and their sister property, Demoiselle, also both located in Reims, as well as Le Phare which is an old lighthouse that an eccentric businessman, Joseph Goulet, built in 1909 in Verzenay which has been restored and resurrected as a modern museum paying tribute to the history and techniques of champagne with state-of-the-art audiovisual installations. All participating venues are along the “Route du Champagne”. Both French and English are spoken.

Tourists have a choice of the 5 coupon ticket [25Euros] or the 10 coupon ticket [50Euros] which are both good until the end of the year, with the special introductory price of 25Euros. Most cellar visits and tastings in Champagne are priced from about 15Euros/per person.

Along the Champagne Route make some stops for regional delicacies such as the ham from Reims “jambon de Reims” which is triple boiled – the legendary Café du Palais in Reims city center serves a generous slice of it accompanied by Langres cheese. Also further down south French foodies never pass up the opportunity to try Andouillette AAAAA from Troyes. Don’t forget the emblematic “biscuits rose” or pink cookies dusted with powdered sugar that so perfectly accompany a glass of rosé or blanc de blanc Champagne!

Liz Palmer



Searcys St Pancras Grand Champagne Bar refreshes guest experiences with refurbishment just in time for the Olympics!

Searcys St Pancras Grand Champagne Bar is ready to provide a bubbly welcome to visitors arriving in London through St Pancras International Station for the Games or to meet-up with friends!

Europe’s longest Champagne bar has undergone a £250,000 refurbishment, which includes heated seats, new signage, and the additional of a “Champagne Button” in the booths (for guests to alert a waiter when their glass needs refilling).

The Champagne list is quite extensive which includes grower Champagnes, and the largest selection of Grand Marque houses in the UK. The most extraordinary selections are available by the glass, which is the most extensive of any bar in Europe and varies from 15 to 30.

The carefully produced list includes a Glossary and a ‘Size Matters’ section to help educate Champagne novices to choose the right size and taste! Range and size where all are represented on the list from Magnum to Nebuchadnezzar.

Situated on the upper Grand Terrace of St Pancras International station overlooking the platforms where Eurostar trains arrive and depart who knows which Olympic athlete you will see or sit beside!


Liz Palmer



230 FIFTH Cuts the Mustard With World’s Most Expensive Hot Dog for Charity

To honor July 23 as National Hot Dog Day, 230 FIFTH Rooftop Bar & Penthouse Lounge, New York’s largest rooftop bar, has re-imagined an American culinary icon for one percenters who like to do good while indulging their Champagne tastes with the 230 FIFTH Dog — at $2,300 it is the world’s priciest hot dog, all sales will be donated to City Harvest, the food rescue organization dedicated to feeding New York City’s men, women and children.

The new world record-setting 230 FIFTH Dog is a riff on a conventional hot dog with all the fixings by 230 FIFTH Executive Chef Johnny Benedetti utilizing the most expensive and / or finest luxury ingredients. They start with the foot-long dog itself made of richly marbled wagyu beef dry aged for 60 days by DeBragga, New York’s Butcher®, ($1225 for a dry aged seven-rib roast from DeBragga) and laced with black truffles. It rests on a brioche bun toasted with white truffle butter and is topped by New York City’s own organic $9-a-bottle W Ketchup, seasoned with saffron to make it even more precious, and by Mustarde de Charroux imported from France for $35.

The accoutrements continue with Vidalia onions caramelized in Dom Perignon Champagne and 100-year-old balsamic vinegar (the $389 a bottle Mussini Ill Grande Vecchio) and house-made organic sauerkraut braised in Louis Roederer Cristal and inflected with rare platinum oscetra caviar (the finest caviar legally available in the U.S. since the 2005 ban on Iranian beluga). Finally, the decadent dog is capped with house-made relish from Gordy’s Pickle Jar sweet chips ($10 a jar) and sparkling with gold leaf.

The 230 FIFTH Dog will be available daily as of Monday, July 30, to anyone interested in a unique taste experience and helping fight hunger in New York City by placing a 48-hour advance order by calling (212) 725-4300 or emailing with “Hot Dog” in the subject line.

The hot dog eating elite can savor this one-of-a-kind meal either on 230 FIFTH’s expansive, palm tree-punctuated 14,000-square foot roof deck or in the Penthouse Lounge with its floor-to-ceiling window walls. Wherever they savor it, 230 FIFTH Dog purchasers will have bragging rights to having consumed the world’s most expensive hot dog, while having helped fight hunger in New York City by supporting City Harvest.

230 FIFTH is located at 230 Fifth Avenue, between 26th and 27th Streets. It is open 365 days a year until 4 a.m., from 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 212-725-4300 or visit

Champagne Castelnau is the official Champagne of the Tour de France

Champagne Castelnau has replaced Jacquart as this year’s exclusive Champagne poured on the Tour de France.

Champagne Castelnau has signed a three-year deal with Tour de France in an attempt to raise their profile in France and the UK (its largest export market).

With two days left of the Tour, it is widely believed Bradley Wiggins will clinch the first British victory of the Tour.

Pascal Prudhomme, General Manager, of Champagne Castelnau said he hoped to mimic the success of Skoda in France since the car manufacturer became the official partner of the race nine years ago.

Champagne Castelnau is owned by one of the sparkling wine region’s largest cooperatives, the Coopérative Regionale des Vins de Champagne (CRVC).

Pascal added that he believed the new tie-up with the Tour would also be an encouragement for the growers, which supply grapes to the cooperative.

“It shows them that the brand is strong and we are investing in it,” he said.

Meanwhile, within France, Pascal said he expected the brand to benefit from the visibility among the VIPs present at corporate events running alongside the race, particularly the many guests and buyers from French supermarket chain Carrefour, which has sponsored the Tour’s polka dot jersey since 2009.

The tour has a long association with Champagne, not just due to the region’s regular appearance in the race, but also because of the wine’s historic use as a source of energy for the riders.

It is said that Maurice Garin, who won the first Tour de France in 1903, kept himself fuelled on a mixture of Champagne and coffee.


Liz Palmer