As lover of champagne I just had to contact Kyla. Not only is she stunning and smart, but her knowledge on champagne is incredible. Surely she has the best job in the world? Meet The Champagne Dame.
What made you decide to put your corporate career on hold and open a wine bar?
I loved my corporate career in finance; ultimately I am a businesswoman and always will be. But I think I am also very entrepreneurial and very passionate, so I follow my heart without hesitation. This is both risky and rewarding! I thought that I would continue my career in banking and have my bar on the side – I clearly underestimated the workload. We were so busy from the first day we opened, that I had to call on my girlfriends to come help me and my staff in the bar. It was a room full of beautiful women, of course then we got busier!
How did you evolve from Kyla to The Champagne Dame?
I have always had a strong interest in food and wine but it was the history of Champagne that really started my passion. In 2005, I read an article on Napoleon Bonaparte who was the first emperor of France. He had a relationship with a man by the name of Jean-Remy Moët and would always ride his cavalry of soldiers through Champagne on his way to war. I read every book there was to read on champagne and when I ran out of books, I wrote a letter to a gentleman who had written my favourite book on champagne.
To my surprise, he wrote back inviting me to Champagne to study with him – so I took a chance, bought a one-way ticket and moved to Champagne. I was recruited in France with luxury goliath Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy to represent their champagne brands. I am now independently educating as The Champagne Dame, and this year is my tenth anniversary of working in the Champagne industry! It’s been an amazing journey and I have many stories to tell …
What is your favourite champagne?
That is like asking a mother with 5 children, which one is her favourite. (She knows but she just won’t tell you!) All champagne from the Champagne region is wonderful. They have the most unique set of growing conditions and very exacting standards, which ensure their sparkling wines are the best in the world. But, if you really want to know, I absolutely love Dom Ruinart. This is a prestige cuvee released by the champagne house Ruinart.
When purchasing champagne, is expensive necessarily better?
Expense is generally an indicator of how long the champagne has been aged in the cellar by the winemaker. The longer the time in the wine maker’s cellar in France, the more complex the champagne will be. Champagne is different to wine. It ages differently. You can age wine in your cellar at home and it will continue to evolve, but it’s not that simple with champagne.
Part of the reason champagne is expensive is that the winemaker will age the champagne in HIS cellar, where it has the yeast in the bottle. (The yeast creates a second fermentation in the bottle which creates the bubbles!) The yeast is like a life-support system, keeping the champagne alive – it also adds the beautiful aroma and complexity to champagne.
Having said that, in the Non-Vintage category, (there will be no year listed on the bottle) you can find great grower champagnes, which don’t spend money on big marketing campaigns and are generally more affordable than the big brands.
What can we experience on one of your champagne tours?
The tours are wow. It is ten years of relationships rolled out in the ultimate red carpet experience in Champagne. We call it the ‘Insider’s Tour’ as you cannot go to Champagne on your own and replicate these experiences.
It is a week with me staying in a beautiful chateau enjoying black-tie soirees every night, having private champagne tastings with the top champagne houses and amazing degustation lunches and dinners with some of the most famous family members in champagne.
Every year someone cries as it’s really euphoric – you need to pinch yourself some days to ensure its all real! I take 12 guests only, and we start and end in Paris with a night out on the town.
It’s an incredible experience, champagne-lover, or not! We have just released a new tour which lasts 2-days in Paris exploring the hottest champagne bars and 5-days in Champagne during harvest for September 2016.
Visit The Champagne Dame’s website here.