AMBONNAY + BUBBLYOTHÈQUE
I am thrilled to announce that I am the new owner of one of my favorite champagne bars - Ambonnay, in Portland, OR.
Bubblyothèque has always been a roaming celebration of champagne. Yet, it has also been a dream to have my own space in which to share these wines. While this news may seem somewhat unexpected, it is a natural next step for me - and, furthermore, Bubblyothèque is still going to be the same educational and celebratory endeavor it always has been.
My love of champagne began in Chicago. When I left to further pursue this passion, for a variety of reasons - both wine and career-related - it came down to a decision between New Orleans and Portland. Though I knew I would be happy in either city, one factor in the decision was that Portland already had a couple of champagne bars. One of these was the newly-opened Ambonnay, which immediately became a favorite of mine. I liked the small, intimate space. The fantastic list was clearly made by a person just as passionate about champagne. And the fact that that person, David Speer, was there to open those bottles for you and share his knowledge and enthusiasm only added to the experience. David and I have shared many delicious glasses of champagne at Ambonnay. When I heard he was thinking of closing or selling Ambonnay a few months back, it became clear to me after a period of consideration that this was an opportunity I had to pursue. We started talking, and before too long the pieces were falling into place.
What does this mean for Ambonnay? As somebody who knows how it feels to be a regular somewhere, that seems so special to you, and then hear that it is being sold, it understandably brings up concerns. Will the new person mess it up? Will it turn into something I don't recognize? Rest assured, the reasons that many of you in Portland adore what David built there are what drew me to it as well. He and I are different people, of course, but we share similar levels of dedication to and knowledge of these wines. There will be some changes of course, most obviously a different face behind the bar and some updates to the space. But the essence will remain: a comfortable, relaxed space to come enjoy well-priced champagnes from high quality producers, hosted by somebody who is knowledgable and passionate about the region, its wines, and the producers.
And what of Bubblyothèque? It will keep rolling right along! Bubblyothèque was created as a way to share my passion for these wines and instill greater enthusiasm for and understanding of them in others. I have done this through classes, dinners, and pop-ups, mainly in New Orleans but also in various cities around the country. I get immense enjoyment from this and I see no reason why it should stop just because I have a bar space now. I will start up a weekly series of classes/tastings in the Ambonnay space under the Bubblyothèque name, and will continue to be available to do similar events in other locations as well.
And what I’m doing in New Orleans? Part of this all coming about so quickly this summer is that I will necessarily be splitting my time between New Orleans and Portland for now. I do intend to stay engaged with these wines in the New Orleans market, both with getting some classes scheduled this fall at Swirl and continuing to assist with getting new producers into the market. I'm very excited about one that we will be getting in town soon and can't wait to share the wines with you. And, it is still part of my dream to have a fantastic little champagne bar right here in NOLA, so stay tuned!
The current plan is to have Ambonnay re-opened later this month. I will post updates here as things move along. Initially, due to my need to commute between the cities right now and until I hire a champagne-loving assistant, hours may be shortened some. But I'll find a way to make it up by maximizing what we do during the hours I am open. I look forward to this new adventure and to getting to know all of you out there who have supported Ambonnay through the years. Let's keep this thing going!