By Frances Bentley. Twitter @awesommelier
Let’s not kid ourselves, the Royal Mile during the fringe is a trying place. When you aren’t jostling past a man juggling fire on a unicycle, you’re dodging an Am-Dram group trying to thrust flyers of their modernised Shakespeare rendition into your already beleaguered arms. The Mile is a frantic, overwhelming place. This is one of the reasons The Pommery Bar at the Signet Library is such a smart idea; it’s a true oasis of luxury and delight.
The Signet Library sits at the back of a square in the middle of The Mile, which right now is host to a number of clowns (literal and figurative) who attract a throng of bemused spectators. This gives the entrance a bit of a speakeasy approach, helped by the presence of a doorman with fists the size of my head. He is there to guard what is one of Edinburgh’s most spectacular venues; and that is really saying something. Here you have a working Law Library, complete with original fixtures and duck egg blue walls, transformed into a slick champagne bar with modern furniture, space dividers and an awful lot of lobster.
Pommery was the first champagne house to make a big fuss over the UK market, and Victorian London embraced it. The first genuinely ‘Brut’ champagne as we know it today, it suited the drier British palate and created the benchmark style which other areas of the market would later embrace. The house has been bought and sold many times over the years, and the instability had a clear effect on the quality of the champagne until its purchase by Vranken in 1996 heralded a return of quality, subtlety and depth of flavour.
The recommended serve here is the £30 taster tray. This showcases tasting glasses of the four ‘Seasonal’ champagnes, all different styles of champagne which are not readily available by the glass and drinkers are less likely to have tasted. The styles are all very distinctive and the leaflet provided gives information on each of the wines in some level of detail with the wines each illustrating an aspect of a complex region and a fascinating winemaking process.
The seasons are represented as Summertime (Blanc De Blancs – 100% Chardonnay), Wintertime (Blancs Des Noirs – 100% Black grapes; Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier), Springtime (Brut Rose) and Falltime (Extra Dry – less ‘dosage’ or sugar is added). Of course, should you just want to have a relaxed drink and not be bothered about learning anything, the atmosphere is far from studious and you can people watch which choosing your favourite instead. Once the tasting exercise is complete, a full glass of your favourite is served. The whole experience is unique, and a wonderful antidote to the stress of The Mile.
I had two favourites, so of course I had to come back the next day to have the other one.
You can also read our review on the excellent afternoon tea offered.
The Pop-up Champagne Bar will be at the Signet Library from 3rd August through to 27th August 2012 and will be open from 11am until late.
You can reserve a table now on 0131 225 0651
Check their website for deals on afternoon teas and champagne.
Children are welcome into the Pommery Bar at all times.
There is no dress code. Smart-casual comfortable Fringe clothes are fine, making it a perfect venue for before or after a show.
Suitable for disabled? Yes the bar area is on the ground level and completely accessible and there is a bathroom for disabled use on the ground floor.