By Graham Chalmers
People living in this district tend to be spoilt for choice for places to eat and drink but a new tasting bar and shop promises something different - a typically French, truly champagne experience.
Recently launched at 22a Oxford Street in Harrogate, The Champagne Concept bills itself as the first champagne tasting bar and shop outside of London that exclusively offers ‘growers’ champagne.
Appropriately enough, the idea was conceived by owner Laurence Page-Connolly during a holiday in France with his wife Gemma.
‘We were driving around the Épernay region, stopping in at small champagne houses where the grapes are grown, picked and turned into champagne by the owners.
“We loved that we could see where the grapes had come from and could try them on site, before buying some to take away with us.
“I wanted to bring that experience over to the UK, particularly as it’s difficult to get many of these smaller labels here.”
As well as stocking a range of 35 to 40 varieties of champagne which can be sampled in store or purchased to enjoy at home, Laurence said it would also operate as a bar for pre-dinner or pre-theatre drinks.
“The British tend to think of champagne in terms of the big brand names because others just aren’t available here but there are many others to choose from.”
The Champagne Concept aims to introduce smaller wine growers to British champagne lovers in the French way by combining champagne tasting, a champagne bar and retail outlet on one site.
Guests can sample different styles, order a bottle to enjoy with a cheese platter provided by The Cheeseboard of Harrogate, or purchase their favourite tipple to take away.
The Champagne Concept will work with six to seven champagne house owners, all of whom Laurence and Gemma have met.
The champagnes are made in small batches from the grapes grown on their vineyard, unlike the blended big name champagnes Brits are more familiar with.
Every bottle will come with information about the grower and the provenance of the champagne.
The featured batches include Gaudinat Boivin, whose family has links to the vine for at least five generations dating from the 18th century, and Rémy Massin & Fils, which is owned by the fifth generation of vineyard worker of the Massin family.
Laurence said: “We think The Champagne Concept is a really exciting addition to Harrogate’s food and drink scene, providing affordable luxury with a connection to the artisans who make the products.”
For more information, visit www.thechampagneconcept.co.uk