An interview with Connoisseur’s Cellar London
1st December 2017
“I am always interested as to why people enter the wine industry and especially the sales side as it is very competitive and can require lots of patience and time commitment so I thought I would ask Azim from newly formed Connoisseur’s Cellar London” Christopher Walkey
So, why have you entered the industry of Champagne?
I think I was destined to do this!
I have always had a love for France. In fact, my wife and I have been trying to renovate a farm house in Brittany since 1997… it’s a long story but along the way we have had an amazing journey, made many French friends and equally had amazing experiences.
I love Champagne and Bordeaux wines, French cheeses and other rustic French gastronomic delights.
In January 2017, I left a University after 25 years, took some time out to reflect on what I wanted to do next. My friend Theo (who has always wanted to get into the wine industry) suggested that I attend the Olympia wine exhibition as I had time on my hands! and it would be a fun day out especially tasting all those Champagnes and Bordeaux wines it was just too tempting to resist…
Prior to the exhibition, with time on my hands I researched into becoming a wholesaler, so being armed with this little knowledge we went to the event as potential distributors…
We had a great day and a tad numb the next day!
What tempted you in to starting off with André De Villeneuve Champagne?
It was a chance meeting at Clapham Junction!
I was waiting for the train to Olympia heading to the Wine Fair Exhibition and this man elegantly dressed approached me and asked me with a French accent whether this train at the platform is going to Olympia. This turned out to be André! I enquired whether he was going to the Wine Fair and we started chatting, exchanged details, and as they say the rest is history…
We got in touch after the event, André invited me to Reims to look at their operation and a tasting session where I was completely blown away by his Champagne!
The interesting thing is that we went out to dinner in Reims after the tasting session, to a very popular restaurant and as you do we had Pommery Champagne (not cheap! but very popular in Reims) as an aperitif and it tasted very mediocre against André Champagne! That also proved we were on to a good thing here.
This was in May 2017 and here we are in Nov 2017 showcasing his Champagne in London at an amazing event thanks to Glass of Bubbly!
What, for you, makes a perfect glass of bubbly – Is it all about the big brand names, or can the lesser known and undiscovered ones compete just the same with similar tasting results?
It is true to say that like most people my Champagne taste was influenced by drinking only the main brands (there was no other brands available unlike today – slight emergence of grower Champagnes) and to be honest there was very little in the taste for me between the main brands. However, it wasn’t until I had tasted André’s amazing Champagne that I realised that there is a fantastic alternative that people do not know about, a gap in the market to exploit!
André’s Champagne is crisp, clean and very moorish which is not something I have experienced with Champagnes in the past! A perfect glass of bubbly.
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.