At The Bar with Champagne Dame Kyla Kirkpatrick

Best known as The Champagne Dame, Kyla Kirkpatrick saw the proverbial light when she visited the French north east region of Champagne in 2005; ultimately inspiring her to make a career switch to one that now sees her import the finest into Australia.

Her company, Emperor Champagne is the exclusive importer of Brad Pitt’s latest release with Fleur de Miraval; and while the Hollywood actor prefers to be the lesser-known third party in the business, the hype certainly revolves around his celebrity status and curiosity for wine and champagne which began in 2020 with the esteemed French house.

Now in the capable hands of Kirkpatrick, Fleur de Miraval’s ER3 is getting all the attention it deserves in Australia – think an abundance of vintage Grand Cru purchased in the 80s and decanted, and then ultimately blended to make the first ever rosé champagne.

“Before I took this project, I tried the all their wines, and nobody is doing what they are with this one,” explains Kyla Kirkpatrick.

“There is celebrity attached to it, but Brad wants to take a back seat with this business. They have created a rosé champagne that had no financial goal; and that’s important for people to know. If you did know how it was made, you would also know there is little money you can make from this,” she says.

A method known as remise en cercles is used to make the pink tinged champagne.

“It’s wildly expensive, there’s only 18,000 bottles a year and it takes years to make. They wanted to achieve the aged creaminess of Grand Cru combined with the lightness of rosé that nobody has done before,” says Kirkpatrick.

As far as starting her own importing business, Kirkpatrick says she’s a handful of women in an industry dominated by men.

“To this day, I am one of the few female importers in Australia. It’s very much a man’s world,” she says.

“I haven’t let that stop me though, and I have an all-female team to help me too. We do things in the luxury space and don’t just do deals, for us it’s about how we present wines, we hold masterclasses and educate the best way we can. I import a lot of champagnes into Australia, it’s something you don’t get taught. I have never had a mentor and have had to learn along the way.”

Kirkpatrick talks to The Write Drop about her love of Melbourne, a three-star Michelin dining experience in France, her go-to spirit when she gives champagne a miss, and what interstate bar you’ll find her.

MY CITY

Some cities are flashy and aesthetically beautiful, but for me, Melbourne is all about the people, food, culture and wine. They’re the fundamentals of a great city and the reason I love Melbourne.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

The most memorable for me was the first day I arrived in Champagne on my first trip there in 2005 during the summer time. I had a beautiful lunch at Chateau Les Crayères – Madame Pommery’s City House, and at that point the restaurant had three Michelin stars. The first course was a garden on a plate, there was grass, little trees and flowers. Everything was placed in tweezer like perfect position almost too beautiful to eat. We drank a bottle of Magnum champagne and enjoyed the most exquisite meal you could imagine.

FAVOURITE BAR

There’s a few I love, but for me a nice spot is Bar Margaux in Melbourne is great. It feels a little New York basement bar to me, it’s backlit and you can have a martini and feel like you could be in any glamrous city in the world.

DRINK THAT DESCRIBES YOU

When I am not drinking champagne, I order a spicy margarita. Tequila is full of energy, which is very much like me, and a little bit of spice added into the mix sums me up.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

I do get hangovers, but not when I am drinking champagne. If I deviate from my true love, then yes, I do. I haven’t found the cure yet, but I have learned it’s about management. I always get a Chinese massage, and settle in for a movie and some take-out.

BEST INTERSTATE BAR

I go to the Los Tequila Bar in Brisbane, in part of The Calile Hotel complex which is often overlooked. It’s secretive dark and a bit moody, and it’s a spot I head to when I want a tequila or cocktail.

WINE THAT YOU LOVE

I am definitely a Burgundy girl, whether it’s white or red. I am a burgundy rouge all the way.

NEXT DESTINATION

A sojourn to Dubai. I haven’t done that in a few years. I spend my summers in Paris and this year I hope to stay at Mr Pitt’s property in Provence.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO CHAMPAGNE

It wasn’t the champagne that got me into the industry, it was the history. I can’t separate them. As a little girl I was interested in theology, history and war and champagne ticks all those boxes. I don’t think there’s been any other region in the world that has had such fascinating history – from two World Wars, Roman battles, Napoleonic battles, connections with Kings and Queens. The story of Champagne houses is intriguing too – from Chandon to Madame Cliquot and Napoleon’s connections with champagne too. And of course, they make the best sparkling in the world, so what is not to love about it.

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