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The Essence of Champagne

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 20.40.20Champagne is one of the most aspirational and pleasurable drinks worldwide. It not only tickles our palates with its effervescent bubbles but its true essence lies in the way it makes us feel; it symbolises the good life. It is a delicious fizzy alcoholic beverage. It is a luxury. It is a brand. It is a unique terroir and region. It is about craftsmanship. But above all, just as Rolex stands for heroic achievement or Tiffany for love and beauty, Champagne is a symbol of celebration.

It has become indispensable in developed societies and has managed to become intertwined in our lives especially at key social moments. Whether you are toasting on New Year’s Eve, sharing a glass on holiday or christening baby or ship, Champagne is a crucial requirement. In fact, it is so popular that its demand is accompanying more diverse events, perhaps an end-of-the-week treat or a cheeky glass with your dear friends.

Magnums and other large Champagne formats have never been so popular. Their presence and image provide real a sense of theatre to an occasion. The appeal of the larger format is so strong that consumers are willing to overlook the ambitious margins in order to throw a memorable party.

The distinctive pop was once only exclusive to royalty and an affluent elite with high status but now it is a luxury that anyone can afford, although possibly not to the notable excess of Jay-Z or Winston Churchill. However, it can now be consumed anywhere and anytime. It is possibly the only alcoholic drink that can be drunk in the morning without anyone batting an eyelid. But that does not mean that it has lost its sense of luxury and exclusivity.

Thanks to its successful marketing, Champagne retains its power to make us feel special. It is a smart product that delivers emotional benefits to consumers who affiliate themselves to different brands according to the perceived value, status and what each signifies. Great brands establish their essence and emotional value in the consumer’s mind. Above all they inspire us with their mystique and history. So that when we buy a bottle of Champagne, we are being influenced subconsciously by its desirable pedigree and mastery.

The essence of Champagne cannot be captured in one glass, it is an emotional and sensual experience with exceptional story that many wish to be part of. It is one red carpet that you do not need to be a celebrity to be able to walk on.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2015 in France

 

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My top 5 affordable Pays d’Oc IGP wines

Pays d’Oc

Pays d’Oc IGP Masterclass with Matthew Stubbs MW (October 2012)
In brief…

  • In 2009, Vin de Pay d’Oc changed to Pays d’Oc
  • IGP (Indication Geographique Protegee) = PGI (Protected Geographical Indication)
  • A number of international investments in recent years have revived the region and its wines
  • 236 000 hectares of vineyards – four times Bordeaux AOC
  • More grape varieties allowed – from 35 to 56 now
  • 60% reds 20% whites and 20% roses
  • 4% of total production is organically certified but many more producers are working organically without certification
  • More and more woman winemakers making the mark, all the wines mentioned below are made by female winemakers

My top 5 affordable Pays d’Oc IGP wines

1. Domaine de Brau 2011 – organic blend of Chardonnay 70% and Roussanne 30% – deliciously refreshing and elegant wine, aromas and flavours of white linen, meadow, elderflower and zesty lemon with surprising hints of green gooseberries – Available from Vintage Roots £8.25 (www.vintageroots.co.uk)

2. Domaine de la Dournie Marie 2011 – barrel fermented low yielding 100% Roussanne – given this wine blind tasted I would confidently place it in Burgundy so if you enjoy young Burgundies then this is the right wine for you at more than half price – a crisp and satisfying wine full of lemony, nutty and savoury notes – Available from Leon Stolarski £11.75 (www.lsfinewines.co.uk)

3. Domaine de Clovallon 2011 – 100% organic Pinot Noir – the first plantings of Pinot Noir allowed under the IGP label from this small yet entrepreneurial 12 ha estate – a light and fruity style of Pinot Noir  – Available from Terroir Languedoc £12.50  (www.terroirlanguedoc.co.uk)

4. Domaine Saint Hilaire Advocate 2008 – morish blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot that is perfectly enjoyable right now – aromatic fruity notes complimented by flavours of fresh eucalyptus, black pepper and cassis with hints of pencil shaving – Available from Slurp £12.25 (www.slurp.co.uk)

5. Domaine Gayda Chemin de Moscou 2009 – blend of 82% Syrah 14% Grenache and 4% Cinsault – the Syrah trademark of white pepper, chocolate and red berries is dominating in this impressive wine – Available from Leon Stolarski £20 or The Vintners £23.50 (www.thevintner.com)

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in France

 

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First time for everything aka what I think of Cristal 2004

Diddy

 Tasting Champagne Louis Roederer

… with Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon and Mark Bingley MW at Berry Bros. & Rudd

 Yesterday I got the chance to taste for the first time a glass of Cristal. I know I could have just bought a bottle and in fact I have a bottle in my wine fridge (how did that survived there?) but it just isn’t the same as tasting with the winemaker on a rainy summer day at the famous BBR shop in St James Street. I wanted to dislike it, my hubby (I am sure) even more – yet it was magical. The 2004 was pure, intensely rich and complex on the first sniff, no swirling needed, this wine will outlive me!  The unique crystal clear bottle without a punt was originally created for Tsar Alexander II of Russia in the 19th century who feared assassination. Thus he had made a flat-bottomed clear bottle that could not hide bombs.  Modern Cristal consumers – New York rappers – may be more seduced by the bling gold wrapping but the distinctive style has remained the same for over 100 years.

A bottle will set you back £150 or thereabouts and the production is very limited due to the selection from 7 finest and oldest vineyards (50% biodynamically grown now). Limited only to the best years although luckily for us there have been many ‘best’ years in the past decade 2004 2002 2000 1999 1997 1995 1994 1993 1990 it seems.

 LR Blanc de Blanc 2006* – Cremant style (only 4kg of presuure)

LR Brut 2006* – 70% PN 30% Chard

LR Rose 2007**

Cristal 2004*** – 50-60% PN 50-40% Chard

LR Brut NV*

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in France

 

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