An exciting new way to enjoy champagne in London.
I arranged to interview the owner of one of the coolest bars and restaurants in St Katherine's dock area and set off to gather information about the place. But nothing prepared me for the sleek space I was about to find and the warm hospitality of Lithuanian born Paul Keturakis, the man behind the brilliant concept of Champagne Route.
It was a rainy Friday and I kept thinking of how fabulous it would be to sit at their outside tables on a sunny afternoon whilst sipping great champagne that is hard to get hold of.
As I stepped in, the glossy restaurant/ bar has both a cool and relaxed vibe which is perfect for spending time tasting some of the best bubbly you can think of.
Paul welcomed me with with a glass from his impressive collection, a feature in its own right. As we sat down to enjoy the gorgeous brunch cooked by one of the talented chefs, Paul told me about his idea behind Champagne Route and his plans for the immediate future.
The concept behind Champagne Route is brilliant and, on paper, simple: make available for UK consumers, champagne from small producers that don't necessarily reach our market. Dominated by the well known and expensive brands, one of the propositions of Champagne Route is to open its doors to alternatives that are as good as the big names if not better and educate British consumers to choose interesting and independently produced bottles with confidence to satisfy every taste. From the surprisingly affordable to the very expensive, Champagne Route offers a stunning selection of traditional to organic and vegan options.
Paul' love for champagne is clear from his choice of business. But there is an element that is remarkable and shows his commitment to his passion: he is a self taught connoisseur of the industry and the products. The name Champagne Route comes precisely from his trips to France where he firstly fell in love with the wine and then acquired his impressive knowledge.
Knowledge is, in fact, a key commitment from Champagne Route. If you don't know your brut from your extra-brut or demi-sec, fear not. In order to break the habit of British consumers to drink only well know brands and styles they find in supermarkets, Paul cleverly comes up with tasting sessions and talks from some of the small producers he works with. The experience is important to open the UK consumer market to the varieties of champagne that very rarely make their way to the high street as well as understanding which types work better for you, being vintage, blancs des blancs, blancs de noir, grand cru and so on. The idea of informing consumers and giving them the chance to try the wine applies to promoting more intensely the beautiful Cremant, a variety of French sparkling wine from regions outside Champagne. Some have such high quality that it is a tragedy that this type of wine isn't more well known. Perhaps lack of knowledge which feeds slightly into a touch of snobbery limits consumers to drink only champagne when they are, actually, missing out on fantastic sparkling wine that might come with a very attractive price tag too.
Champagne Route are investing heavily in making the most famous wine from France even more popular. By introducing independent growers, artisian champagne, holding informative tasting sessions, making buying online available and even a subscription box with some excellent selections are some of the ways to make sure exceptional champagne is available in the UK.
If, like me, you are far from being a connoisseur of the drink, but want to enjoy fantastic food, beautiful surroundings whilst acquiring some cultural drinking knowledge, you must pay Champagne Route a visit. I promise it won't be a one off. The place is irresistible, the food is gorgeous and the drinks... Well, what can I say?
Opens for brunch, lunch and dinner.
30 Gauging Square, London