Alan Harper on Champagne, mixed doubles and the boat show.
Champagne must be one of France’s best-kept secrets. Not the drink – that’s the worst-kept, thankfully – but the region, just a few dozen miles by river to the east of Paris. Whenever we mentioned that we were investigating it for this issue the response was always the same. First, a knowing “ah, yes,” followed by a puzzled “where is that, exactly?”
For anyone, like me, who’s always dreamt of taking their boat to the French capital, there now seems no excuse for not venturing that bit further into pinot noir country. And for those long-distance voyagers en route to the Mediterranean, a detour into the fabled fizz capital of the world is barely going to show up in the log by the time the sun starts to shrink your deck planking.
While our correspondent was sending back his increasingly incoherent despatches from the front line, back on the 23rd floor of MBY Towers here in SE1, the staff were intent on adding both length and depth to our researches by easing the corks out of some very excellent bottles indeed.
Meanwhile, the turquoise expanses of the mixed doubles bar that masqueraded as the MBY stand are no more than an indistinct memory. The Big Blue logo has been safely filed under Jolly Interesting, and the organisers have issued their annual explanation that it’s OK the gate was down because, in fact, boat sales were up. It was, in the end, an excellent London boat show.