A Portrait of the Expert as a Young Man
Sip Champagnes was co-founded by two friends with very different backgrounds and skillsets. It’s fair to say the company couldn’t function without both of them.
This week it’s the turn of Peter Crawford, or 'the talent’ as he is affectionately known at Sip, to answer five questions that offer a little insight into the man behind the bubbles…
1. What’s your role at Sip Champagnes?
I have the enviable task of finding and selecting the producers we work with at Sip and which wines from their collection we stock. Whilst this sounds great – and it is! – I would also like to point out, if only for Daniel’s benefit [Daniel Blatchford, Peter’s friend and co-founder] that I do have to deal with the more mundane sides of invoicing, stock management and such. It’s not all drinking Champagne.
2. How did you first get into Champagne and why are you so passionate about it?
I was at St. Andrews University studying something to do with computers – which most people find alarming considering how technophobic I am – and, whilst I was there I took a job in a local Oddbins. The manager was big into wine and Champagne and so I ended up trying various bottles with her, including a 1988 Pol Roger – the bottle that got me hooked!
It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why Champagne over other wines – in my eyes it just has that extra magic and allure to it – not to mention that it’s just so diverse. I’m always finding new and exciting wines, particularly amongst the grower community. Plus, I find I get an almost instantaneous headache when drinking red wine, which somewhat dampens my enjoyment of it!
3. What did you do pre-Sip Champagnes?
I have a bit of a tangled and unconventional career path. I never actually finished my degree at St. Andrews as I took a scholarship to play professional polo. Some 15 years and numerous injuries later I packed in the polo and set up as a physio, which I was working in when Covid struck. Throughout this time though I was never too far from Champagne. I typically visited up to 10 times per year over a period of around 20 years, making friends with vignerons and amassing my own collection and tasting notes along the way. Ironically, since starting Sip I’ve hardly been to Champagne at all!
4. Why did you start Sip Champagnes and what do you hope to achieve with it?
For me, Sip has been all about creating the sort of platform I always wanted to see as a Champagne geek. The main reason I travelled to Champagne so often was to buy Champagne that I couldn’t order into the UK. The majority of the growers we work with have no representation in the UK or sometimes anywhere at all outside of France. Many have miniscule plots producing tiny bottlings each year… but they are brilliant Champagnes(!) and it’s a crime that they go unrecognised to the wider public, who are largely served up the same grand marques or clutch of well-known growers. Sip is all about offering something different for anyone who wants to enjoy the full spectrum of Champagne.
5. What’s your favourite Champagne at Sip and why?
It’s tricky to pick an absolute favourite as I like different Champagnes for different moments, or admire Champagnes for different things. Gaspard Brochet’s Lion Tome I was probably my standout find from 2020 and, as it arrived not long after we established, it was great to get it on board and watch it fly off the shelves. This year, there have been a number of cracking cuvées from new producers we’ve brought on – Heucq Histoires Hi. VIII, Alexis Aegius, Maurice Grumier Solera are a few of my personal favourites – but for me it’s been the year when Georges Remy has stolen the show. If you buy only one wine this year make it Les Hauts Clos 2015.