American Marketer


Fortnum & Mason enters the Crypt for intimate masterclass

March 16, 2015

Fortnum & Mason's Crypt room Fortnum & Mason's Crypt room


British department store Fortnum & Mason is inviting consumers down to its crypt for an evening of Champagne tasting.

On April 15, Fortnum & Mason is hosting a Charles Heidsieck Champagne masterclass where guests will have the opportunity to taste award winning Champagnes. Hosting masterclasses and events that showcase quality of products will instill a sense of trust in a retailer’s offerings.

Corks and crypts
The hour-long class, beginning at 6 p.m. and the again at 7:30 p.m., will be held in Fortnum & Mason’s Crypt. Described as the retailer’s “hidden treasure,” the Crypt dining space only allows for 10 seated guests or 16 for a cocktail reception, making the room ideal for an intimate atmosphere.

During the masterclass guests will taste Champagnes from the Charles Heidsieck Champagne house. The brand was founded in 1851 and “Champagne Charlie,” as he was better known, courted society during expeditions to the United States until the 1950s.

Unlike other Champagne brands, Mr. Heidsieck invested in Roman chalk cellars rather than vineyards. These cellars are ideal for aging Champagnes so that the development of their complexity and balance is a focus.

fortnum & mason.charles heidsieck cellars

Roman chalk cellars

Guests of the masterclass will sample Charles Heidsieck’s award winning Brut Réserve, Rosé Réserve, Rosé Millésime 1999, Blanc des Millénaires 1995 as well as the Brut Millésime 2005, a new release.

Tickets for the event are $66 and include the price of the tasting.

Fortnum & Mason has strong ties to the culinary circuit, whether it is branded teas or marmalade or its gifting hampers. The retailer explores these ties in different ways.

For instance, the British department store hosted a marmalade contest to raise money for charity and find its next homemade marmalade producer. Contestants split into varying groups with the winners of each subset being awarded, and an overall winner chosen to have their marmalade featured in-store for a year (see story).