Sabering Champagne: Popping Bottles

By Sophie Gayot

Perhaps you’ve read about how The French Laundry’s general manager, Michael Minnillo, was going to celebrate 2020 New Year’s Eve by sabering a bottle of Champagne in the kitchen.

As he was going for a big one, a Nebuchadnezzar (a 15-liter bottle), he got some help: a chef was holding the bottle while he was swinging the saber. After a few unsuccessful attempts, he used the saber a VERY wrong way. The bottle fully exploded in multiple pieces. Nobody got hurt, a semi-miracle… The bottle was a $2,000 Billecart-Salmon Brut. Here is the video.

For Christmas, I got to do the same with a Magnum of Billecart-Salmon Brut Blanc de Blancs. The beginning was similar: Geoffrey Loisel, Billecart-Salmon North America Director, was holding the bottle and me the saber. We all got to drink and celebrate.

Back in September 2018, at the opening of Wally’s Santa Monica, I arrived with my saber pretty sure I was going to use it — after all, this was the christening of a wine store. I chopped a bottle of Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé with Mr. Billecart himself.

Chef Thomas Keller, can I offer a sabrage lesson to Mr. Minnillo in exchange for a stage in your beautiful kitchen?

> The French Laundry has previously been featured on GAYOT’s Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. list from 2004-2006 and 2008-2017.
> Chef Thomas Keller was GAYOT’s Best Restaurateur in the U.S. in 2013. Keller is the only chef in the U.S. with two restaurants on GAYOT’s Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. with The French Laundry and Per Se.
> Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé is on GAYOT’s Best Brut Rosé Champagnes.

> Follow Sophie Gayot sabering Champagne bottles on Instagram #SophieGayotSabrage.