As our Editorial eloquently stated, the ASI 50th anniversary celebration is just around the corner. We will gather for two days (7-8 October 2019), first in Reims and then in the vicinity of Épernay. Please come and attend what will surely be one of the greatest gatherings of international sommeliers in history. After all, one does not reach 50 years old every day!
But there is much more to this event than just raising our glasses in celebration. One of the core missions of our organization, put in place when it was first founded, was to promote greater knowledge among our individual members. And so we have planned an extensive range of practical and academic activities to build up or refresh that minds and palates of every member, regardless of their level of knowledge.
The festivities will kick off on Monday, 7 October in the Grande Halle du Boulingrin. This Reims institution is a market building classified “Monument Historique” in a beautiful Art Deco style, with plentiful space for us to gather, taste and talk. And there will be plenty to discuss, thanks to the Wine and Champagne Fair with 180 exhibitors of Champagne, wine, spirits, cheese, oysters, caviar and more.
Tasting, yes, but also time to engage our minds, through over 15 master classes (all included with the price of registration). The full list can be found at https://asi.info/about/the-history-of-asi/asi-50th-anniversary, but suffice it to say that the range of topics is broad, from horizontal and vertical tastings of specific domaines to technical reviews of how the new Champagne glasses were designed and how oxygen moves through cork. All master classes will be held in English language or have English interpretation.
Our day at the Grande Halle du Boulingrin will conclude with Potée Champenoise, a local “grape pickers” stew that is traditionally prepared on harvest day, followed by an after party hosted by the French association which will likely become legendary in the years to come.
Tuesday will kick off with the touristic road of Champagne Attendees will have an opportunity to survey the remarkable landscape and villages of Champagne as they travel by bus to Chouilly / Épernay. The agenda there includes a walk-around tasting of Jeunes Talents de Champagne (Young Talents of Champagne) at Nicolas Feuillatte, the oldest union of Champagne producers. The event will be held at the cooperative’s beautiful panoramic tasting room, which is located in the middle of the vineyards. Some lucky ones will go and visit the Abbaye of Hautvillers before going back to Reims…The day in Épernay will then conclude with a courtesy call to the mayor of Épernay at Town Hall.
As evening falls, we will return by bus back to Reims for a closing event on wines from the Ningxia Helan Mountain Eastern Foothills Wine Region Evening at Salon Degermann. Then it will be time to say goodbye to our colleagues and friends new and old and to our hosts in Champagne.
And to turn the page on the first 50 years of ASI’s existence. Here’s to the next glorious half century to come!