Champagne - more than just a type of wine, and more than a region in France, the very word Champagne conjures images of joviality, and it is seen as a fundamental ingredient in the recipe for any celebration, from the most polite of parties to scenes of reckless abandon. Because, when it comes to sparkling wine, there is Champagne, and then everything else. Pretenders come and go with the fashions, but Champagne remains the constant, the standard-bearer, the ideal to which all others aspire. Or is it?
Champagne’s long-held status as the tipple of choice for almost any celebration is something of a double-edged sword. There are few in Champagne who will dissuade you from buying a bottle and popping that cork regardless of the occasion, but does the association with all things festive and celebratory mean we don’t see Champagne for what it really is – a wine. Granted, it is one that has bubbles, but it is also a wine with an incredible scope of flavour and range of styles, from brut nature to demi-sec, white to rosé, vintage to non. A crisp, lemon-scented Blanc de Blancs is a very different bottle to a Pinot & Meunier dominated, aged vintage wine, and they are not all suited to the same occasion. So, here’s a few tips to enhance your next Champagne drinking experience- whatever the occasion!
Three to try –
Domaine Dravigny ‘Cuvee Ambre’ Champagne NV - €49
Full bodied, toasty and exceptional value from this little-known Champagne house. Beats its better-known neighbours’ hands down!
Laharte Freres Rose de Meunier Champagne NV - €60
A rare 100% Meunier Champagne from a small biodynamic grower, this is delicately fragrant yet intensely flavoured.
Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blanc NV Champagne - €90
One of the more well-known houses, but oh what a house. Gloriously elegant and refined, crisp and complex, it’s practically perfect.