The bubbly was flowing on Tuesday night, when one of the kingdom’s rare specialist beverage distributors solidified its links with the Siem Reap hospitality community. Celliers D’Aise, which distributes internationally renowned brands like Concha Y Toro, Label 5 and Perrier in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, held a two-part Champagne party to showcase Taittinger, their flagship bottle.
Hotel, restaurant and bar staff were educated about the virtues of Taittinger in a daytime seminar at the Sofitel Grand Ballroom, before turning the theory into practice at an evening reception, attended by many of the town’s restaurant and bar moguls.
Despite technical glitches plaguing the presentation, and stormy weather leaving guests of honour Clovis Taittinger and Cellier’s D’Aise founder Gilbert Mehat stranded in Vientiane, attendees were treated to an overview of the labourious Taittinger production process.
The evening segment was a rather decadent affair, complete with an ice sculpture, red carpet, and bottomless champagne flutes.
Scott McNeil, Siem Reap branch manager for Celliers D’Aise, said the affair was more than just a PR stunt.
“We want to meet the people who are face-to-face with the customers, and teach them about the products. We are working to improve barmanship, teach staff about decanting, and improve wine knowledge.”
He added that the company hopes to establish a bar association in Siem Reap, to match the one they set up in Phnom Penh.
According to McNeil, the Khmer community is increasingly interested in wine. “We are opening new offices, and we’ll have a showroom so people can come in off the street. We want to cater to the emerging middle class in Cambodia. We hope to see a bottle of red and white wine on the table beside the Angkor beer and Johnny Walker at weddings and banquets here.
“We sell wine to anyone: from a six star hotel, down to a one star karaoke bar, or a street seller who just wants bottle or two for their freezer box.”
And judging by the empty bottles heading back to the Sofitel kitchens, Cambodia certainly has a taste for finer things in life, Champagne being near the top of the list.