Whatever the reason to celebrate, do it in style with a bottle of the world’s greatest fizz – champagne. There is, of course, an enviable range of high-quality sparkling wines to choose from in this country, not least of which are our own English sparklers, of which I am a huge fan. But sometimes and for some occasions, it just has to be a bottle of champagne, with all the history, class and pedigree which it encapsulates.
So here are a few suggestions, all but one of which you can order from the wonderful Wine Society, by the bottle or by the case. And even if the results don’t quite come up to expectations, having sat the exams and got them over with, is reason enough to celebrate. Take up the wonderful quote by Napoleon Bonaparte “In victory you deserve champagne; in defeat you need it”!
Champagne Jean de Foigny Brut Premier Cru from The Wine Society at £23.50 a bottle punches well above its weight, true to its Premier Cru quality status. Clean cut, dry and aromatic with granny smith apples, citrus flavours, a medium-long finish, and with the elegance and finesse that is always champagne. A ‘moreish’ champagne and with a special offer bringing the price to less than £20 a bottle if you buy six, more can always be provided.
Champagne Christophe Brut Tradition comes from ‘the other’ champagne region, by which phrase I mean the southern Aube, rather than the northern Marne. This is a part of the overall champagne region where Pinot Noir reigns supreme and this champagne is 100% Pinot Noir, being thus termed a ‘Blanc de Noirs’ – one of my favourite styles of easy drinking champagne. This small producer is based in Colombé-le-Sec in the heart of the gentle hills of the Côte des Bar. A more fruity style of champagne, it has notes of raspberry jam and Victoria plums on the palate, with aromas of baked bread on the nose. Deliciously charming. £32 per bottle from The Wine Society, but again on offer at £160 for six.
Every year The Wine Society runs its own in-house blind tasting competition to select a range of wines which shine forth their quality and appeal. Designated as ‘Wine Champions’ they all come highly recommended.
Champagne Henriot Blanc de Blancs was selected this year and indeed was awarded a gold medal in the International Wine Challenge – a rare feat. Founded in 1808, Henriot remains a family-owned, independent champagne house based in Reims, producing wines of great complexity. Made entirely from Chardonnay, this champagne is distinguished and intense, with depth of fruit and minerality singing out. £42 per bottle or £210 for six.
Another fiercely independent champagne house is the incomparable Taittinger. Pushing the boat out a little further, try the Vintage 2015 - £55 from Waitrose Cellar and from independent merchants. Made from an equal blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this is a fine, rich and concentrated champagne that epitomises elegance and finesse. Lively and structured, yet smooth and perfectly balanced. Celebrate – or commiserate – in style.