In the last edition I spoke about the possibility of the decline of Prosecco. This time we are going to look at the other end of the price scale and a drink we all love and have done for a few hundred years.
Champagne has long been regarded as the drink of Kings and Queens, of great British prime ministers and famous Hollywood actors and actresses. When we think of Champagne we think of the great luxurious names such as Moet & Chandon, Veuve Cliquot and Dom Perignon along with Bollinger and Perrier Jouet. There are around 20 of these famous ‘houses’ based in Epernay and Reims who buy only the best grapes from the best vineyards from all over the region. But they only account for around 10% of the vineyards and considering there is around 80,000 acres under vine, what about the rest?
The rest is made up of the growers’, 19,000 small producers, some part timers who are not only growing the grapes and sell to the big houses but increasingly are also making their own wine. The reputation of these smaller producers has grown considerably over the last few years and demand for their Champagne is on the increase, accounting for a quarter of all sales. You can easily pick up a Champagne sometimes around the upper twenties range and guarantee an excellent wine. Vintage champagne from these smaller producers is also worth a look out with some wines around the low forties and sometimes under.
Where as the Champagne market is still dominated by the big names, you don’t have to spend that sort of money to make sure you get a good quality wine. Check out the smaller names you might save yourself a few pennies.
I have a couple which are particularly good.
GRUET Brut NV - £25.99
A father and son team this represents fantastic quality at a great price. Full flavoured but elegant and soft on the finish.
TELMONT VINTAGE 2006 - £38.99
Soft yeasty characters, rounded and smooth. A vintage Champagne under £40!
FOURTAIN Brut NV - £31.99
This family have been producing champagne since the 1850’s. The large amount of pinot gives it a soft summer fruits character with hints of citrus on the finish.