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La Fête du Champagne, a week-long celebration of Champagne featuring exclusive tastings and seminars hosted by industry leaders, is going virtual this year. The events, which kick off on October 17 and conclude October 25, are open to any American Express Card Member and can be purchased on La Fête du Champagne’s website. Over the course of seven days, La Fête du Champagne delves into the storied Champagne region, exploring the offerings of Épernay and Reims, as well as the lesser-known towns of Champagne. Those interested in attending the fête can book tickets to individual events and separately purchase the wines that accompany said event—or opt for an all-access pass and the entire tête de cuvée package of wines for the week.
Typically, La Fête du Champagne would be a way to sit in the same room as the Champagne greats—from the heads of the most well-known Champagne operations to the up-and-coming winemakers—learning (and tasting) the noteworthy trends in bubbly. Each seminar is a deep dive into the tradition of Champagne, new winemaking techniques, or how certain terroir or a specific food pairing might change one sip. Previously held in New York City and London, La Fête du Champagne will go completely virtual this year, bringing the seminars and luxury Champagne tasting experience into your home.
“The event is built around the quality of the producers who attend, the sommeliers who work the event from the best restaurants in the U.S. and all over the world, and the chefs that participate in it all,” says La Fête co-founder Daniel Johnnes, who also serves as wine director for Global Dining Collection chef Daniel Boulud’s entire restaurant portfolio. “But in the forefront, it’s all about the wine.”
The virtual soirées are still drawing the level of talent La Fête du Champagne has become known for, with business leaders like Olivier Krug, culinary pioneers like chef Arnaud Lallement of three Michelin-starred L’Assiette Champenoise, and winemakers hailing from various towns in Champagne. With moderated panel discussions on the future of Champagne-making and in-depth interviews—all interwoven with high-end Champagne tasting—these events are a multi-sensory experience even when they aren’t held in person. To further the sensory experience, and the indulgence, La Fête du Champagne offers La Fête Provisions curated by chef Daniel Boulud, including trout roe, French blinis, crème fraîche, smoked salmon, various cheeses and charcuterie fixings, and pastries. Johnnes champions the food just as much as the wine at all the events he curates—“because, after all, wine is meant to be drunk with food.”
Prior to co-founding La Fête du Champagne with Champagne expert Peter Liem, Johnnes, a lifelong wine connoisseur and francophile, created La Paulée, which he calls “a celebration of Burgundy.” La Paulée has been hosting events exposing New Yorkers to Burgundian wine and culture for 20 years, and by 2014, Champagne was an obvious next foray for Johnnes, who “wanted to expand and celebrate other wine regions of France.”
One of the greatest draws of Champagne, for Johnnes, is a sentiment also found within the Burgundian wine scene. It’s the commitment winemakers have to the land, not simply to care for the terroir, but to improve it. These are the undertones that come through in the schedule of virtual events at La Fête du Champagne.