In the pre-COVID era, we loved slipping into the San Francisco Champagne Society, an intimate, speakeasy-style tasting lounge in SoMa where, by reservation only, we were free to explore fabulous grower-producer champagnes among friends.
With those days corked for now, many of us are popping bottles (so many bottles) at home. Fortuitously, the effervescent venue is now offering its rare bottles—plus the proper wine glasses for tasting and even caviar!—for pickup in SF and delivery around the Bay Area.
Available to order via Tock, the offering ranges from single bottles ($44-$125) and six-packs of half bottles ($218) perfect for solo imbibers and twosomes to a trio of four-packs of hand-selected champagnes (the value pack goes for $189, while a curation of classic favorites runs $218). Or, you can seize the day with the splurge-worthy "Carpe Diem" pack ($385), which comes with three bottles of bubbly and two pairs of Riedel and Lehmann wine glasses for tasting. You can also add a la carte options of glasses and caviar—a four-ounce jar of hackleback sturgeon ($165)—is currently on offer. (Did you know that flutes are no longer used for serving champagne in the Champagne region of France? Hence the recommended glassware that's available for purchase.)
San Francisco Champagne Society was founded by Bill Marci in August 2014. Under ordinary circumstances, its champagne experiences take place in a private live-work loft. The focus here is on smaller grower-producers in the Champagne region of France, where they practice natural farming methods and, often, the farmer is also the winemaker who works exclusively with the grapes that are grown in her or his vineyards. They produce a fraction of what the larger houses yield, just 10,000 to 100,000 bottles at most each year.
"These champagnes feel more like they are crafted than made," says Marci, who personally pours his guests three- to four-ounce glasses of these fine champagnes while also sharing details about how they were made and how to enjoy them to their fullest expression.
With room for up to 20 guests, the lounge, when not closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, hosts a range of champagne experiences. The cellar houses approximately 250 different bottles valued at around $400,000—higher priced experiences allow tasters deeper access into that treasure trove where difficult-to-find, and even some unobtainable, bottles reside.
"Sometimes my allocation of a rare champagne is only one bottle," says Marci, who loves to share those with his regulars.
SFCS is not a restaurant, but IRL tastings do come with the option to add caviar, cheese plates, and smoked fish. Catered food is available with buyouts for private events. For high rollers, the SFCS Supper Club puts on tastings in the private dining rooms of some of the city's finest restaurants, while the Elite Champagne Experience brings Marci and his magic bubbles to your home for private soirees of up to 10 of your nearest and dearest.
When travel resumes and you're salivating to get a taste of the world again, consider booking SFCS's curated tour in France. "Champagne does taste better in Champagne," says Marci, who has been traveling to the region since 2007 and has personal relationships with the area's best small producers, typically not open to the public. One of those wine producers might even join you for lunch or dinner—"an experience that stays with you forever."
The SFCS Lounge is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you can still get some of the finest champagnes from smaller grower-producers through Tock.
// No minimum purchase required for pickup in SF; delivery is available within 60 miles for a $25 fee (waived with $500+ purchases); order at exploretock.com. For custom orders, email Bill Marci, firstname.lastname@example.org. San Francisco Champagne Society, 1097 Howard St. (SoMa), sfchampagnesociety.com.