When it comes to any type of celebration, we adore the indulgence of champagne. This sparkling wine from the chalk slopes east of Paris is France’s best answer to a global brand. It is the drink of celebration, of success, and, unlike the still French wines, which have been successfully copied around the world, Champagne remains inimitable, despite thousands of attempts.
The combination of cool climate, chalk soil and — there’s no other word for it — terroir are just so special. Like virtually every part of France, the Champagne wine region is subdivided into smaller parts, but unlike in other parts of France, those subregions rarely appear on the bottle. Although there are exceptions, like Blanc de Blancs and vintage Champagnes, most Champagnes are blends from different areas and even different vintages, using the three Champagne grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.
Lets talk bubbles
There’s no denying it, Champagne sparkles with life as it is poured. The bubbles may be described as fine or medium-sized; steady, streaming or moving in groups; light and tiny; fast and furious, or slow and shy. Some whizz through the liquid like shooting stars, whirling and spiralling upwards. Others are more enduring and generous, settling in a delicate cordon round the edge of the glass. Others still are more discreet and dispersed or on the contrary very evenly distributed.
Wine critics often talk about tiny, silvery bubbles or bubbles that shatter into fragments of gold. What better way to celebrate Christmas?
Adjectives used to describe the mousse might be creamy, white, fine, enduring, lively, elegant, graceful, pale or frothy. The cordon formed by the mousse may be compared to a delicate string of pearls. How beautifully decadent!
What should you look for on the palate?
We agree with Louis Bohre, an early 20th century Champagne ‘explorer’ who advised “The palate should be surprisingly but pleasantly sparkling, instantly seductive and velvety. The taste should have an underlying fruitiness, with a lingering fragrance that causes you to meditate silently and at length on the wine’s aromatic qualities – long after you put down your glass”. . So whatever your tastes and your budget, Louis’s advice on Champagne holds true.
The drink of kings
Champagne first gained international attention for its association with the crowning of French kings in Reims (in the Champagne region of France), and champagne wine was served as part of coronation festivities.
At a time when France was one of the dominant world powers and a major cultural force throughout Europe, news about the bubbly wine from the Champagne region of France quickly spread and the drink became wildly popular. And because French nobility represented the epitome of power, luxury and class, champagne automatically was associated with luxury and power. Seizing on this opportunity, the leading manufacturers of champagne devoted considerable energy to creating a history and identity for their wine–associating it, and themselves, with nobility, royalty, luxury and power.
The strategy paid off. Today, champagne has become synonymous with celebrations, luxury, opulence and thanks to Cubby Broccoli the drink of international secret agents. Visit our page @gourmetfoodguide on Instagram to see more of our video champagne reviews where we compare Krug with Dom Perignon and will definitely be filming and celebrating Christmas and New Year with a glass or two of this delicious and indulgent wine. Cheers and Merry Christmas!