So … in Melbourne, Australia, in December 2016, they (whoever “they” may be), threw a Champagne Festival. Three days, three venues. All the French Champagnes one could drink (and possibly some Australian MCCs) were free once one had paid the ticket price. I’m given to understand it was a fairly fun event and everyone had a good time.
I toodled off to Brooklyn Mall on Saturday 4 March for the Brooklyn Bubbles festival. The tickets to this non- premium event were R300 (the previous night the tickets were R600 and included three meal vouchers).
What did we get for this princely sum of money?
Apparently “exclusivity”. There were plenty, plenty of chairs to sit on. At long sociable tables so that we could interact with others. These chairs were unoccupied. I am told that the previous year the tickets were half the price and there were hordes of students. The organisers decided that R300 a ticket would keep the students away and make the Festival more exclusive.It certainly worked.
The press release promised us some Champagnes to taste. There were two or three. At R100 a glass.
The local MCCs were there. We got 15 tickets to use. The measure wasn’t a taste, but a glass. 15 glasses of bubbly is rather a lot of bubbly. I have loads of tickets left. Most of the local bubbly merchants were happy for us to taste their wares. Most of them didn’t have spittoons. They were obviously expecting people to drink all that bubbly.
A wine show like the RMB Winex held at Sandton each year attracts all the local bubbly producers. They turn up there and allow people to taste their wares, completely unfettered by ticket requirements. Hand it out until it is clear the patron will fall down dead at your feet if you give him (or her – most the drunks I’ve seen at wine shows have been female) any more. And there are some French Champagne houses. And Italian and Spanish bubbles. All free. And with a much lower ticket price than R300.
The food. I didn’t taste it. Some of the lovely ladies working the show tutted about the poor value. I looked at what others were eating. I agreed that I wanted more for my money than that.
There was live music. There was no Taittinger.
The Charles Fox bubblies were lovely, as was the De Grendel. The Krone is good and so is the Pierre Jourdan. I didn’t particularly like the Simonsig – the first MCC to be made in South Africa, although this is one stand which was equipped with a spittoon and water, but no biscuits. Nor the Avondale, nor the Dieu Donne. It was about here that I gave up. Portions too big. No spittoons. I was not there to get drunk.
There was some very pleasant live music. The venue was not the venue originally planned. This one had very convenient toilets and was close to the parking. I think we scored.
Altogether, I found this a disappointing affair generally and specifically not good value for money. Well. One lives and learns. Tickets to Melbourne for a really good Champagne Festival are even more expensive, but I still can’t help but envy the Aussies their better party.