Pour a glass for champagne diplomacy as travel ban is lifted
The organizers of La Fête du Champagne 2021 blew traffic jams Monday night, after the Biden administration’s decision to let fully vaccinated travelers from around the world return to the United States from November.
Driving the news: Hundreds of leading American enthusiasts and collectors were expected to attend the event in New York, which was scheduled for October 9-16. But because of the travel ban, the guests of honor – more than 30 big producers, big and small – seemed destined to be stranded across the Atlantic.
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What they say : “This is a very exciting time for us,” said Johnnes, who is also the wine director of chef Daniel Boulud and the creator of La Paulée, the big annual gathering celebrating Burgundy. “I have heard a number of French people celebrating in their vineyards that they will finally be able to come.”
The La Paulée 2020 rally took place in March just days before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, he said. “We were the last big festival before the world closed. And it looks like we’re going to be the first festival after we reopen our borders.”
Why is this important: Of course, this falls under the category of first world problems. But Johnnes argues for “champagne diplomacy” and the parallels between the worlds of wine and politics.
Today’s tensions between the United States and France extend beyond travel – in nuclear submarine technology – but the allies have moved beyond political tensions around the start of the Iraq war, including the movement to call French fries “freedom fries”.
“People grew up and thought, ‘Let the politicians do their thing, we love French wine.’ … We have to move on. “
How it works: The festival includes a series of small dinners with rare champagnes, up to a big tasting on Saturday and a massive dinner where participants bring bottles from their personal cellars.
COVID-19 has forced some precautions: All participants must be vaccinated, and there will be a larger than normal spacing between the tables.
The conversation around champagne today “is really focused on the small producer and the terroir”, although this leaves the big champagne houses feeling somewhat threatened. “We insisted to the winegrowers and the great Champagne winegrowers: ‘Hey, you are going to be in the same room together.’ It’s like a peace conference. They have to coexist. “
The bottom line: “I’m going to drink a bottle of champagne tonight,” Johnnes said Monday.
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