Whether the weather is glorious or gloomy, and ever changing as is its want in Leeds, the yelpers keep on yelping. On this particular blustery and sunny day in Yorkshire nothing was to stop some thirty plus folk from gathering at this most excellent Elite event in Leeds, in the one and only Champagne bar within the city centre – Epernay. Exclusivity was the key word, and key element, to this fabulous night as the divinity was lavished on all who were in attendance.
On arrival folks were gifted to a teasing of the taste buds with a delightful Afternoon Tea Cocktail, specially concocted for the event as a fabulous one off, to highlight Epernay's newly designed Afternoon Tea Menu. This lovingly crafted cocktail was a light tipple to compliment their delicious teatime treats, a selection of savoury delectations, both tickling the senses and delighting the palate. There the mingling began, as folks arrived and were welcomed into the specially cordoned VIP area, to sup by candlelight and the slowly setting sun.
Once everyone had settled in, a brief introduction to the tastings, Epernay and the afternoon tea menu were given by Rad, Epernay's superstar events manager. Dave, whose hand crafted canapés accompany the Afternoon Tea Menu at Epernay, then gave folks an insight into the specialised items on the menu. The décor and ambiance set the tone for an intimate and exquisite evening, with three tables laid out, complete with three different Champagnes from the divine Ayala range.
Once the introductions were given the sampling began! First up yelpers got their lips around the Ayala Brut Majeur, a dryer Champagne and a delightful drink to enjoy as an aperitif before dinner. As each tasting progressed yelpers learned notes about the nature, history and processes involved in Champagnes, all told by the passionate and knowledgeable staff members at Epernay, whose understanding and insight of their main fare could not be challenged. Their proficiency and fervour for the bubbly stuff was practically overflowing, as were the sumptuous samples, and folks sipped in every bit of it!
Second to be tasted was the Ayala Brut Rosé, again a Champagne on the dryer end of the scale, but vaguely sweeter to the taste with scents of morello cherry coming through. As everyone's glasses were topped up, folks learned that each Champagne from the Ayala range only differ in sugar content, and that the rosé wine allows for a real insight into the impact 'dosage' and blending has on a wine. Champagne Ayala, supplier for the courts of Great Britain and Spain up until WWII, have been a driving force in the movement to a more natural, dryer style of Champagne and this was tasted by all in attendance from the generous samplings at the event!
And finally, after sampling, sipping and chatting, came the Ayala Rich Demi Sec with afternoon tea patisseries. Everyone was informed that "demi sec" means half sugar, in contrast to the Brut where all the sugar has been converted to alcohol, so it was a much sweeter wine. According to folklore, Epernay informed everyone that the word Brut does not in fact mean anything, and simply came about as the English preferred much dryer wines to the French, who then called them "brutes" for their taste and lack of sweetness! Ergo, the driest Champagnes are thusly dubbed "Brut".
The afternoon patisseries soon sent folks swooning, and grappling for seconds, as Dave kindly handed out three different delights from the range; a pink macaroon, almond apricot pastry and vanilla and fresh fruit cup. He explained how the sweets are specifically crafted to compliment the sweeter Champagne, the flavours and textures perfectly melting in the mouth to be refreshed by a sip of the sweet stuff. Details, such as their use of vanilla pod rather than vanilla essence, not only highlighted the quality but evidently made all the difference in taste. One bite and folks were in heaven, as the sounds of satisfaction swept over the group, and the sipping continued!
And finally, to close the event, yelpers were treated to one more surprise – the Yelp Awards! Nothing says glitz and glamour more than a Champagne event, and so to top the night off a few wee prizes, truffles from the lovely Bon Bons, were given for being useful, funny and cool. With a few hand picked quotes, it was smiles all round due to the quality, hilarity and personality of yelpers in Leeds. And it seemed everyone got their thirsts on, as a crowd stayed on behind to sip the night away in the delightful surround of Epernay for that post-Elite drink…
A huge thanks goes out to Rad, Danny and Tom from Epernay for all their generosity, passion, knowledge and hosting and also to Dave and Elaine, whose canapés perfected the evening. Massive thanks also goes out to Matthew Kitchen, the fabulous photographer for the evening, whose pictures can be viewed on the Flickr and Emma-Lou H from Manchester, who came to help out! For all the gossip, don't just take my word for it, check out the reviews straight from the yelpers mouths…
Until next time folks, yelp on yelp strong. Boom!
'Heart, heart, heart. Everything was lovely. The afternoon tea cocktail was AMAZING, possibly my only low point was finding out that isn't on the menu forever. The staff were so knowledgeable and the three champagnes we tried were lovely. I cannot go without mentioning the gorgeous little pastries. They were also AMAZING! If the macaroons and the afternoon tea cocktail are limited edition, I had better return soon.' – Laura J
'Beautiful venue, excellent staff, efficient, friendly and very knowledgable. Prices surprisingly reasonable, especially the afternoon teas which i hope to sample very soon. Very well organised event and loved meeting new people, everyone seemed to have had as good a time as we did.' – Douglas P
'I'd like to apologise to Champagne because Epernay, who must be one of it's finest ambassadors, have shown me that a good Champagne is a delight and that if you are going to appreciate it fully you have to have delicious nibbles of the correct sort to compliment your Champagne. I would also like to thank the lovely staff at Epernay for showing me the error of my thinking; champagne isn't pretentious, that's just some of the people who feel the need to use it as a social prop. I have seen the light on the road to Damascus and I held up my glass to it and appreciated the pale salmon of the rosé.' – Tim M