Sunday, March 9, 2014

Champagne BARON-FUENTÉ… & stopper

Now everyone loves Champagne! Not so? Or at least the luxury image and lifestyle associated with Champagne. Let’s toast to that… Chin! À votre santé!
Thanks to a very good friend of mine, Thierry BOUGIT, export director of a famous cellar in Alsace, I end my first busy day at ProWein 2012 in Düsseldorf toasting our reunion copiously. Seven years earlier we shared Crémant d’Alsace at their cave in Barr. Well, to be honest, as these get-togethers go, many toasts were called for. And every time when Thierry sees a friend passing by, he invites them
Pour avoir un verre de vin avec nous.
And being on the French Pavilion, Thierry knows a lot of people… So we end up chatting merrily until the lights fade and the guys gently direct us through quiet halls, opening a shutter door to let us out.
Here it’s dark and raining. I’ve got my full-length raincoat on and my red luggage case on wheels in my hand. You see, I’ve arrived very early this morning from Frankfurt with Lufthansa and went straight to the expo. Thierry, always the organizer and superb host, arranged a lift with a friend to his hotel. Thereafter we’ll all go for dinner at their favourite restaurant in the old town. Only then he’s going to take me to my hotel on the outskirts of the city to book in... He finally drops me off minutes before midnight after a raucous night on the town with a group of lively Frenchies.
Needless to say two days later with the show over, Thierry loads me with gifts of French wines and my favourite, Champagne BARON-FUENTÉ Grande Réserve Brut. This is going to be my special gift to my host in Warsaw. Now not having been to Europe since 2005 I’m unfamiliar with the new rules and put my treasured bottle in my hand luggage when checking in automatically at Düsseldorf airport. At customs I take off and take out whatever I think is necessary, happy that I’m early for the flight.
The official looks at my hand luggage and the scanner with the Champagne image, showing it to his colleagues and laughs merrily.
You’re going home after the expo?
he says in accented English. Fellow passengers stop to watch the show.
Yes, uhm... no, I’m visiting a client. That’s for him.
Ah, sorry monsieur, you can’t take fluids inside the cabin. Champagne! I can’t take this from you. You must go check it in.
Thank you very much.
I murmur in gratitude, hurrying back to the Lufthansa check-in counters.
The lady listens sympathetically to my story and responds with:
To check in a second bag will cost fifty Euros monsieur. Or else you can take it out and leave it here.
Thank you, but I can’t open the bag. The keys are in my case which is already checked in.
I’m starting to sweat now. She continues:
How much did you pay?
It was a gift, I have no idea.
Well it should be around ten to twenty Euros, maybe more. You really want to pay fifty Euros?
she asks politely. Seeing I’ve reached the end of negotiations I fumble in my pockets for my carefully conserved Euro notes. Her face filling with compassion she says softly:
No it’s fine monsieur, we’ll take the bag.
I freeze, staring at her in disbelief.
She just smiles sweetly, printing out the ticket, attaching it to the bag. Ecstatic, I thank her profusely, and almost run back to the friendly officials at customs.
Come December 2013 an English gentleman from London is in the office to collect his winesave® can. Seeing the BARON-FUENTÉ Champagne stopper on the desk, he points to it.
I like that; can it seal normal wine bottles as well?
I’m sure it does.
testing it on an empty bottle. So why don’t you get yours too? Look on
Hmm… perfect! Get me six please.
And definitely tell us if you want the real thing...
Well, you’ll have to make do with the Champagne and the painting. That’s by Luis DE LA FUENTÉ circa 1950.

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