As you have probably heard, Ambonnay has a new owner. I would like to introduce myself, let you know how this came to be, and give you an idea of what's to come.
My name is Michael Knisley. I have been in New Orleans for the last 8 years, where I have been sharing my passion for champagne with the locals via Bubblyothèque. This is a venture I created to educate people about the wines and producers of my favorite region. I have had great enjoyment doing this in a variety of formats - tastings, classes, champagne-paired dinners, a pop-up champagne bar, and others. I visit the Champagne region 2-3 times per year to improve my own understanding and to get to know the producers. Through this, I have also been able to work to bring more producers into the New Orleans market. During all of this, though, it has been my dream to have my own space to share these wines.
I have visited Portland frequently through the years. On one visit back in 2011, I made it into the newly-opened Ambonnay, and it was an immediate favorite of mine. I liked the small, intimate space. The fantastic list was clearly made by a person just as passionate about champagne. And the fact that that person, David Speer, was there to open those bottles for you and share his knowledge and enthusiasm only added to the experience. David and I have shared many delicious glasses of champagne at Ambonnay. When I heard he was thinking of closing or selling Ambonnay a few months back, it became clear to me after a period of consideration that it was an opportunity I had to pursue. We started talking, and before too long the pieces were falling into place.
What does this mean for Ambonnay? As somebody who knows how it feels to be a regular somewhere and have it become so special to you, I understand how it brings up concerns when you hear that it is being sold. Will the new person mess it up? Will it turn into something I don't recognize? Rest assured, the reasons that so many of you in Portland adore what David built there are what drew me to it as well. He and I are different people, of course, but we share similar levels of dedication to and knowledge of these wines. There will be some changes, most obviously a different face behind the bar and some updates to the space. But the essence will remain: a comfortable, relaxed space to come enjoy well-priced champagnes from high quality producers, hosted by somebody who is knowledgeable and passionate about the region, the producers, and their wines.
What is next? The current plan is to have Ambonnay re-opened later this month. I will post updates here as things move along. Initially, due to my need to commute between the two cities right now and until I hire a champagne-loving assistant, hours may be shortened some. But I'll find a way to make it up by maximizing what we do during the hours I am open. I look forward to this new adventure and to getting to know all of you out there who have supported Ambonnay through the years. Let's keep this going - see you September 26th!