Sabrage tradition

Sabrage, or the opening of a champagne bottle using a saber, used for ceremonial occasions it dates back to Napoleon times.
It originated in France, after the French Revolution, when Napoleon and his army enjoyed victories all throughout Europe.
This meant that they could often be found celebrating with bottles of champagne, which Napoleon himself was particularly partial to!
The Hussars, Napoleon’s light cavalry, took to using their sabers to open champagne bottles after victories. It was a rousing start to many parties and a grandiose way to toast their leader.

The art of sabrage continues to be used today. Employed as a nod to tradition, or simply to add a sense of occasion, Sommeliers and champagne houses have kept this aspect of history alive.
Jean Boucton Champagne appreciates the historical aspect of sabrage and how it has been handed down throughout history. The sense of occasion and ceremony that sabrage evokes has made it an ever more popular technique.

As impressive as it looks, sabering champagne is actually quite simple once the basics are mastered.

How to Saber Champagne?

Before attempting to saber your champagne, be sure to chill the bottle.
This is important because the pressure in a warm bottle of champagne is higher than a chilled one, which could result in the glass shattering completely. Remove the foil from the neck of the bottle along with the cage. Locate the two seams that run along the length of the bottle.

The strike must be made against one of these two seams. Bottles are made in two halves, so the seams are the weakest spots on the bottle, which is why they are targeted. Hold the base of the bottle firmly and strike the bottle where the seam meets the annulus, or lip of the bottle. The strike should be in a clean straight motion, no curving. It isn’t necessary to hit the bottle hard, simply slide the saber firmly against the lip of the bottle.

Done correctly, sabering shouldn’t leave any glass fragments behind, so you’re ready to pour!

Harvest Time in Champagne

For the uninitiated, it can be easy to view the Champagne-making world as endlessly glamorous and fashionable. While there certainly is that side to it, at its heart it’s a farming job. Winemakers are at the mercy of the seasons and nature, which means things can go wrong in an instant.

After France’s exceptional 2018 vintage, what does this year’s harvest hold in store?

The harvest period may be fraught with hard-work and at times adverse weather conditions, but it’s also a very special time of year. It’s the only time when the whole family is together. For Jean Boucton Champagne, that means even those who aren’t involved in the family business lend a hand.
Days begin early at around 7 am with a meeting at the ‘vendangeoirs’, or literally, ‘the harvest place.’ From here the team of harvesters head out into the vineyards, a mix of family, friends and local seasonal workers.

Around 9 am the harvesters will hear the welcome call, le ‘casse croute’, or breakfast break. But this isn’t your average breakfast. In almost ceremonial-like style harvesters will stop picking and place their baskets on the floor. In lieu of a breakfast table the door of an old chariot is used, it’s the same one that’s been used for as long as we can remember. Makeshift table
legs come in the form of large, sturdy grape cases. Then it’s on to dressing the table with glasses, cutlery, and most importantly, the food. Fresh bread, cheeses, and charcuterie are piled high and washed down with black coffee. There’s a box of candies for afters, then it’s back to the harvest.

After a morning of hard work its back to the vendangeoir for lunch around 12 pm. Harvesters are greeted with a small aperitif and then it’s time to eat. The dishes are simple French fare but suitably hearty. Lunch is followed by a quick coffee, then it’s back to the fields around 1:30 pm for a long afternoon of work.
Once the grapes have been picked they are stored in cases and transported to the cellars to be pressed.

The same regimented attention is applied to turning grapes into wine.
In Champagne winemakers can only pick a limited amount of grapes per hectare (‘appellation’), then everything is organised according to its type and terroir.
After it’s sorted it’s pressed into a unit of juice called the marc, 4000kgs of grapes. The first press is called the Cuvee and is the best juice, which is used in higher quality champagnes.

Champagne Jean Boucton - Harvest

In all Jean Boucton Champagne’s, Cuvee Chardonnay is a large part of the blend, and it’s distinctly fresh and elegant.
Jean Boucton Cuvee Blanc de Blancs is the house’s signature champagne and has been served at exclusive cocktail parties and events like Polo in Windsor.
There’s a feeling of comradery and energy in the fields, the village, and even the entire region during harvest time. The end of the day is signalled by an aperitif at the vendangeoir, giving harvesters the chance to catch up with family and go to the cellars to try the freshly pressed juice.

Work started on the mid September. Expectations are high for this years harvest. Conditions have been challenging as in other part of France but don’t rule out a vintage year…

How to Ace a British Champagne Picnic (with a side of Polo)

Ah, the great British summertime. Long windswept walks on stony beaches, candy-striped sticks of rock, and clutching onto wide-brimmed straw hats… No British summertime scene would be complete without a picnic. It’s become an essential part of a walk in the countryside, day at the beach, or afternoon polo fixture. The British summer sports season is the first word in elegant afternoon dining. Think strawberries and cream at the tennis and harris tweed picnic blankets at the rowing. 

At Emsworth Polo Grounds on Saturday (July 20th) Jean Boucton ChampagneEmsworth PoloCliveden Hotel and the Honesty Group are coming together for perhaps the most elegant take on a quintessentially British day out. There won’t be a soggy sandwich in sight. Wicker baskets with perfectly starched gingham cloth covering freshly cut organic sandwiches, scotch eggs, handmade scones, and a chilled bottle of Jean Boucton champagne will be the order of the day. All served against a charming backdrop of bunting strewn Gazebos and freshly mown grass.

The afternoon of picnicking and polo will kick off with the first game at half-past two, with the final fixture – the Gold Cup Final – taking place at four. Toast the day with a glass of Jean Boucton champagne, which has been the drink of choice at the Margot Turner Polo Challenge (at the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst), the French Embassy, and the St Regis Hotel (international) Polo – so you’re in good company. 

As the sun fades and the last drops of champagne are sipped, recline on a picnic blanket or wander around the Windsor countryside. This is British summertime, at its most classic stylish best. Stick around for the champagne sabering and raise a glass to the worthy winners. Even the temperamental British weather won’t be able to dampen your spirits. 

Credit: Steve Wall Photography, Article: Sinead Cranna.

“Great crowd, amazing Champagne, a nice picnic afternoon”

Champagne, Picnic and Polo at Sandhurst

Saturday (June 22nd) saw high-ranking army officials, polo players, and their guests descend on the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst for a day of polo and picnics. With the sun shining down and drinks flowing, it was time for the latest fixture, the Jean Boucton Heritage Cup, for the Margot Turner Challenge — to get underway.

The setting couldn’t have been more spectacular, with the white-washed Old College looming large in the background providing the perfect backdrop for a sophisticated day of polo. Spectators were welcomed into the exclusive event with a cooling champagne aperitif waiting for the fixtures to begin. First to compete was the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst (RMAS) and Stowe, next the RMAS faced off against the Royal Army Medical Services (AMS) in the Margot Turner Challenge.

Of course, no summer event could be complete without the addition of a picnic.  The Argentinians favour an asado — or barbecue – at polo fixtures but Brits prefer to compliment an afternoon of sport with a traditional hamper full of food and a glass of champagne, with the Oyster Bar also proving a hit.

With the sun still beating fiercely the match came to a close and the victors made their way to the prize-giving ceremony. It was time to celebrate a great day which honoured an extraordinary woman, Margot Turner. Margot showed unstoppable tenacity in the face of many hardships during her time as a British military nurse during World War II and was the first woman in British nursing history to be taken a prisoner of war. Befittingly she was remembered by a display of teamwork and spirit, which so characterised her life. After an intense game, the AMS Polo team secured a  victory against their opponents, RMAS. As the winners sabered a bottle of champagne and lifted the Jean Boucton Heritage Cup trophy, a spray of champagne signalled the end of an incredible day.

The Back Room Experience

Adam Elsden is the man in charge of the newly opened Back Room Wine Bar, which, incidentally, has already been voted Number One Popup by Metro.  Tucked away a short walk from Liverpool Street, the wine bar serves Peruvian coffee and PRESS London juices by day, and an innovative and ever-changing wine list by night.

As the name suggests, the Back Room is intimate and inviting. It’s all soft lighting and gorgeous tiling, with unassuming wooden stools and brown leather chairs dotted around the small space. It’s reminiscent of somebody’s own kitchen-cum-dining room, just a very stylish somebody.

Adam’s encyclopaedic knowledge of wines has seen him create a rather exciting wine list for the Back Room.  Sourced from local merchants, the wine list changes weekly, something that Adam says allows him to keep ‘an interesting mix of old and new-world wines’ which excite and challenge visitors.  Champagne Jean Boucton is one of the wines on the list next door at The Kitty Hawk, and it fits perfectly amongst the other niche high-end offerings. Adam is resolute in his quest to bring innovative wines to the city and galvanise the wine world.

Sinking into the leather seats you can see his vision unfolding. He’s casting off the staid and stuffy image of sommeliers and wine bars from yesteryear. In its place, the Back Room offers a relaxed and fresh setting to enjoy wines of substance, each with a unique history, character, and personality. As a glass of Champagne Jean Boucton is poured, Adam is on hand to enlighten his captivated audience about its rich history.  Whether you’re a wine aficionado or a complete beginner, Adam encourages visitors to the Back Room to ‘have a bit of fun with what your knowledge is’, if not he will happily guide you.

The Back Room is already being talked about for all the right reasons and it’s easy to see why.  With jazz music playing in the background and another Jean Bouton Cuvee being enjoyed Adam leaves me with the parting thought that ‘I don’t tell people what to drink; I try to advise them about what’s available. I tell stories. It gives people a fun working knowledge of wine.’

Discover our Luxury Vasques

Jean Boucton Champagne is proud to be collaborating with Orphevrerie d’Anjous on the design of our luxury Champagne Vasques.

The relationship between the brands, and the choice of Orphevrerie d’Anjous to make our vasques, was a natural and organic one.
As one of the last remaining traditional Orfeverie’s in France, Orphevrerie d’Anjous is steeped in a rich history which dates back to its inception in 1710. Unsurprisingly for such an established company, tradition plays a significant part in the products and values Orphevrerie d’Anjous promotes.

Having worked with Orphevrerie d’Anjous on the design of our vasques, Jean Boucton Champagne believes that we share an affiliation with the company due to the closeness of our values.A culture of luxury and excellence is a common denominator for both Boucton and Orphevrerie d’Anjous, with both companies sharing an appreciation for unique and luxury craftsmanship. From their beginning in the Loire Valley, Angers, Orphevrerie d’Anjous now enjoys international recognition and has become synonymous with design and innovation. Notable for their expertise in working with pewter, the company is perhaps most famous for its Champagne buckets, which characterise the brand. Connections to numerous high profile brands act as a testament to the skill and talent of the pewtersmith in creating extraordinary objects.

Orphevrerie d’Anjous workshops are responsible for the manufacturing process in its entirety and such attention to detail has become expected from a brand that prides itself on timelessness, tradition, luxury and elegance.