The Other Side of Sip Champagnes

Many of you will be familiar with Peter Crawford or his @alavolee profile, in which he waxes lyrical about some of the superb Champagnes championed by Sip but, if it wasn’t for his co-founder, Daniel Blatchford, you might never have gotten the chance to try these bottles for yourself.

Part-time HR, customer relations, business development, photography, web dev, and full time workaholic, it’s time to take a glimpse behind the curtain at the man who keeps Sip Champagnes up and running and the drama that kickstarted the company...

1. What's your role at Sip Champagnes? 

Everything! Well, not quite… but it often feels that way. Certainly in the early days, when Pete and I started out it was literally just the two of us so, whilst Pete was focussed on getting the producers on board, I was building the website, writing the copy (which has since been re-written I hasten to add!), photographing the bottles, dispatching customer orders, liaising with customs officials, setting up marketing campaigns. It was intense! 

Fortunately, since then we’ve taken on some staff to lighten the load, although I still work every day from morning until night. There’s always something to be done!

2. How did you first get into Champagne and why are you passionate about it?

Perhaps unsurprisingly it was through Pete! 

It’s quite a dramatic story, but Sip would have never come about were it not for the evening of 7th July 2009. I was walking from Chiswick to Acton on my way home from work when I was approached by a group of youths. They asked for the time. The next thing I saw was a knife and the next thing I felt was a heavy thud in my chest. I don’t remember much more beyond that but I found out days later in hospital that I was likely targeted indiscriminately as part of a gang initiation. I very nearly died and that realisation ultimately changed my perspective on life. It sounds clichéd but since then I’ve really tried to make every moment count and live life to the fullest. 

Anyway, months down the line, as part of my physical rehabilitation I was assigned a physio, who turned out to be none other than Peter Crawford [ed: if you’re wondering why Pete is a physio you’ll have to read his profile]. Over the course of my treatment we became friends and Peter’s passion can’t help but rub off on you. He introduced me to the fascinating world of grower Champagnes, I got hooked and never looked back.

3. What did you do pre-Sip Champagnes? 

My two big passions are music and photography. I’m a classically trained guitarist and played in bands for many years in the UK and Australia and New Zealand where I travelled/lived for 18 months. Through music I segued into music tech and ultimately just ‘tech’ – specifically Product Management for both small and large companies. Photography wise, I still run my own wedding photography company with my wife (who picks up the lion’s share of the admin for that side of things nowadays).

4. Why did you start Sip Champagnes and what do you hope to achieve? 

It was the early days of Covid and I’d just been made redundant for the second time in 18 months. The job market was poor, there were no weddings to photograph and Sip was something Pete and I had been talking about for years but never found the right time to take the plunge. Despite the difficulties with Covid and Brexit, it just felt like it was now or never. 

In terms of what I’d like to achieve, my ultimate belief is that the Champagnes we offer should be appreciated for the incredible wines they are. I’d like to get to a point where Champagne is enjoyed like any other white wine and appreciated for its many qualities rather than just quaffed at wedding receptions and forgotten about. When it comes to the day-to-day though, I tend not to think too far ahead and, instead, focus on each small step in front of me. It’s a philosophy that’s worked so far, so I’m going to continue with that pragmatic mindset.

5. What's your favourite Champagne at Sip and why?

I love so many of them! I still remember the first time I tasted Gaspard Brochet’s Lion Tome I – it was so smokey and complex and different – like no Champagne I’d ever tried. I’ve always been a big fan of Goutorbe-Bouillot Clos de Monnais 2011 (perhaps my longterm favourite, although a little expensive for an everyday bottle!). I also share Pete’s sentiments that Georges Remy Les Hauts Clos 2015 is absolutely sensational and, finally, Vincent Renoir Brut Tradition will always have a special place in my heart; it’s the wine from my wedding and the catalyst for this whole business.

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