It’s nearly Champagne season! Before you fill your flute, read these tips from wine consultant Thatcher Baker-Briggs. The 30-year old sommelier knows his bubbles, and he regularly shares his knowledge with an international clientele that includes venture capitalists, tech founders, and NBA athletes.
A modern-day trailblazer for minorities and millennials in the wine industry, Baker-Briggs is well known for parlaying his stints at elite restaurants into his own private wine consultancy where he procures the rarest vintages and bottles for his clients. Born in a small city in Canada, Baker Briggs knew from the age of 10 that restaurants were going to be his passion. His professional trajectory boasts key positions in kitchens and dining rooms of some of the most influential restaurants in the world including three-Michelin starred Saison, the highly regarded Takazawa in Tokyo, and at two-Michelin starred COI in San Francisco. After working with the leadership team to oversee the opening of ANGLER in San Francisco, Baker-Briggs founded Thatcher’s Wine Consulting in 2019. Following, in his own words, are tips for best enjoying the season’s favorite beverage, as well as a few of his preferred labels:
- First and foremost, Champagne is a wine. Champagne should not simply be used to begin a meal with or reserved for celebratory occasions. To me, an important part of serving Champagne is that no matter if it is Tuesday or if it is Christmas, it deserves a place at the table. It can work with a tremendous amount of different foods and is always fun to open around the holidays with family, as it is always fun to change people’s perception of a wine.
- I recommend drinking Champagne out of the same glass as you’d serve white wine. This way, you will be able to capture the aromas and depth of the wine, and not simply just the bubbles. I recommend serving the champagne cold, but not near frozen, and if you can – I suggest opening it an hour or two prior to everyone’s arrival. This allows the wine to exhibit more personality.
- If your holiday dinner is roasted turkey, Peking Duck, or Beef Wellington, Champagne, and especially the bottles we have shared, will be a wonderful pairing with both the food and company!
- Oh – and one more key aspect – always make sure to have more than just one bottle!!
Adrien Dhondt has been at the helm of his family Domaine for the past few vintages. His wines are quite striking – I am sure he is on the rise to greatness. The first time I tasted Adrien’s wines, I remember being instantly hooked. They are made with precision and focus, and often feel more similar to an amazing aged white Burgundy than what many may expect of Champagne. That being said, they are true to their origin. The Premier Temps is a blend of current vintage along with a perpetual Cuvee with wines from 1986. It is one of the most compelling examples of Champagne at this price point.
Benoit Marguet has been a leader in Champagne for quite some time. After taking full control of the family Domaine in 2005, Marguet began to implement his philosophy of organic and biodynamic treatments in the vineyard. He believes that while Champagne can be an extremely challenging place to grow grapes if you focus on the vines and ensure their success, the result will have the potential of greatness. His Shaman Rose is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The wine is pure with a long finish and depth and is really a rose that works with everything from grilled lobster to roasted duck.
A former sommelier from Paris, Alexandre took over the Domaine just a few years ago. Inspired by sustainability in both the vineyard and winery, he is making wines that make it clear how he is rising to become a strong leader in the region. For now, only an exclusive number of people are aware of his incredible project, but I certainly don’t think that will be much longer. His 2017 Mouvance is super beautiful, featuring a heavy hand of Meunier, showcasing how the grey duckling grape of Champagne can reach profound heights. He only makes a few thousand bottles of wine a year, so I’d get in on it now!