My Interview with Ange Aiello of iYellow Wine Club

picture1Taking Champagne with Madame Champenoise 

Liz Palmer graced the Wine Angels with her presence in the Cave (Toronto) last month to toast to the release of her new book The Ultimate Guide to Champagne. Liz’s love affair with wine began nine years ago, as she made the transition from law to a studying Somm. As we sipped, savoured, and yes, SABERED in her honour, it became apparent that we could all agree that no matter the question – Champagne is ALWAYS the answer. As we poured ourselves some champers and settled into chat – Liz told us about her continued book tour plans (Paris, New York and Toronto), and how she will soon be launching her own Champagne brand- How cool! Liz is fondly known as the “Queen of Champagne”, but we call her “Madame Champenoise”!

If you could describe the purpose of your book in one sentence, what would it be?

The Champagne Bible

Do you consider yourself a Champagne purist?

I’m a purist when it comes to vintage Champagne, but I am still open minded. There are people in France who don’t believe that you should cook with Champagne. Then, there is the topic of decanting Champagne, it does change the taste and effect the bubbles – true purists don’t agree with decanting.

What was the very first Champagne you drank in the region? 

Drappier Champagne from the Aube region. Champagne has been produced by the Drappier family for eight generations and I’ve have the honour to meet and taste with three generations Andre, Michel and Charline. I just fell in love with their wines when I visited them several years ago. They a “champagne table” that holds your champagne glass and purse – what else do you need.

What is your favourite Champagne?

The 1998 Dom Pérignon, I tasted with the chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy and a sommelier in a private intimate tasting experience a few years ago –  It was memorable! (Find it in the LCBO here)

Is there another female that inspires you?

It’s difficult naming one, but Maggie Henríquez, the CEO of Krug stands out, she is quite a dynamic woman. There are more females in ownership, management and board roles than ever before. I’ve interviewed quite a few of these women and have mentioned a few of them in my book “The Ultimate Guide To Champagne” (even our very own Angela Aiello).

What is your favourite wine pairing?

Oysters and champagne –there is nothing better!

What are you wearing if Champagne is the perfect accessory?

Either an elegant evening gown or a bathrobe.

If you were talking to someone who didn’t know anything about Champagne, what would be the key thing you would want to tell them? 

Two things – firstly, how to shop for champagne, and secondly how to taste it.

When you’re not writing, or drinking Champagne, where are you and what’s in your glass?

I love Chablis. I also been going in between Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. During the spring time I focus on Provence rosé.

And the final question – have you ever sabered!?! And tell us about your experience.

I’m a beginner – I just bought my first saber from Reims, France and it is a Laguiole brand. I’ve been practicing off the back of my boat!

Liz’s champagne and wine adventures! Follow me on Instagram here!

An Interview with Charles Keusters, Director of Food & Beverage, Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic

interviewCharles Keusters arrived at Casa de Campo December 2014 following a four-year run with Meliá Hotels International. His assignments included management positions with Paradisus Palma Real; Paradisus Punta Cana; INNSIDE Madrid Hotels; and ME Madrid. Charles earned his Hospitality Administration/Management Diploma from Les Roches Marbella. In addition, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Haverford College.

Casa de Campo Brief

Casa de Campo set the benchmark for luxury travel in the Dominican Republic back in the 1970’s and continues to elevate the standard.

This elite “sporting life” property is situated on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic, in the town of La Romana.

Luxury accommodations include 185 guest rooms, suites with private terraces, and over 50 villa homes some with private pools. Casa de Campos’s 7,000-acre property offers an abundance of recreational and relaxing activities, including: three award winning and truly spectacular golf courses “Teeth of the Dog”, “Dye Fore” and “The Links”, designed by award-winning designer Pete Dye; La Terraza Tennis Center; a 245 acre shooting center; polo and equestrian center; and variety of water sports. For relaxation and enjoying the sun, the spa and private beaches are a must. Six of the full-service restaurants provide International cuisine and wines all with breathtaking views. Casa de Campo has its own airport, heliport and marina; guests are welcome to arrive by air or by sea.

Liz Palmer

 What Food and Beverage concepts have you implemented since your arrival?

Charles Keusters

 My main objective is to give Casa de Campo villa owners and guests an experience they cannot find anywhere else – to make it a culinary destination.

The owners and guests have access to anything they want here. I like the culinary culture and always looking for new ideas – for my future plans, I’m looking to set up a riverboat where the chef will cook on the boat for guests. I’m also incorporating health and wellness into the menus and working with the chef to incorporate more indigenous vegetables and fruits into the menus along with local fresh fish, which is at our doorstep.

Liz Palmer

As Director of Food & Beverage of Casa De Campo, how do you manage your day and can your outline a typical workday for us?

Charles Keusters

It’s rarely the same every day for me.

I oversee private functions, all the restaurants, and catering for private yachts and planes.

Breakfast is usually at 7:30 am at Logo. Here I have breakfast and review my day. Then I do a-walk-around the property to see if everything is in order. 8:30 am there is usually a briefing with the General Manager. 9:00 am I have an executive committee meeting which includes the operations team where I review pricing and budging. After this meeting I walk around and oversee the various events around the property. Throughout the afternoon and evening I great guests and listen and respect their comments and suggestions.

Liz Palmer

What defines luxury to you?

Charles Keusters

Luxury is comfort, innovation, uniqueness, and anticipation, which are defining elements. Service also plays an important part.

Liz Palmer

Does Casa De Campo have a wine cellar? If so, how large is the inventory? Who maintains it? And who chooses the wines and prepares the wine list?

Charles Keusters

We have an 8,000 bottle cellar, with an inventory of French, Italian, Spanish, Chilean, Australian and New Zealand wines.

I manage and maintain the cellar and am currently reviewing the wine lists to make some future changes.

Liz Palmer

What is your favorite glass of wine to sip at the end of the day?

Charles Keusters

Wine is a personal experience – I like Italian and Spanish reds. Especially Cepa 21 from Spain.

Liz Palmer

Charles, how do you keep up on industry trends and cultural needs of global clients?

Charles Keusters

I’m personally interested in international industry trends. I read magazines, food blogs, and am constantly reviewing Instagram.When I travel I love to explore other cultures and their dishes.