As an aftermath of International Champagne Day (Oct 24 2014), I’ve decided to share a little of my experience with one of my favourite wines. There are plenty of sites out there that will tell you the difference between a brut and an extra brut, a blanc de blanc and a blanc de noirs, but there isn’t much about the differences between the label styles. Each Champagne house has it’s particular stamp, and while it’s always reasonable to assume that you have your favourite (mine wavers between Pol Roger and Joseph Perrier), each has its occasion. So here you go… (Pricing is an approximate in AED – without tax – and AUD at Dan Murphy’s)
Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve NV
The light and inoffensive champagne for people of taste. Good aperitif but too lean to drink all afternoon, so you’ll need something to go with it. Oysters, followed by lots and lots of bread.
220 AED, $60
Billecart Brut Rose NV
The wine you buy to get in a lady’s bloomers. Romantic pale salmon colour,creamy, with enough flavour to drink solo, but due to it’s softness, also one of the only champers that should actually come anywhere near a strawberry. Good for drinking in a jacuzzi.
Bollinger Special Cuveé NV
Champagne for lads. Punches of cold roast lamb, and will actually partner up to a main course. Broad, dry and developed. Perfect for blokes who’s tastebuds have suffered years of abuse at the hands of Marlboro lights and single malts.
Duval Leroy Brut NV
Not hideously expensive so this is the one to drink when nobody is watching. Also because you don’t want to have to pronounce it’s name to your friends (trust me, you’ll get it wrong). Real middle-ground stuff, not too broad and definitely not insipid. Ripe fruit and balanced acid.
170 AED, $70
Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Brut NV
For Francophiles. It’s just boutique enough to baffle novices, yet sold over most of the world. Family run and small scale so you can feel good about where the money is going. It’s traditional yellow label is as pretty as a field of Dijon mustard in flower, and the vibrant palate tastes like an you’re spending an afternoon eating brioche in the sun in a Loire apple orchard.
280 AED, $50
Krug Grand Cuvee NV
This is perfect for decadent evenings with your special someone, particularly when you want something to go your way (like a marriage proposal). Superlatively berried and nutty, a meal in itself, goes best with smooching on a velvet chaise lounge whilst listening to raunchy jazz.
850 AED, $280
Lanson Black Label NV
For Brits. Even a name you can pronounce properly without knowing French. This champagne was given a complete overhaul a few years back, and the style is back in line with their target market – Wimbledon. Fruity style, with lots of pear and pre-ripe wild strawberry, not too much earthiness and a lean finish. Perfect with cucumber sandwiches and golf claps.
210 AED, $42
Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV.
The best house champagne, bridging the gap between drink ability (lots of it) and fame (just enough to be delightfully pretentious). People drink it and can’t get enough of it, due to its ability to hold a pack of flavour in the mouth, and yet slide down the throat with elegance.
225 AED, $65
Louis Roederer Cristal (vintage)
Champagne for gangsters and the nouveau riche. The “F-you I’m loaded label”, oozing wealth from behind its gold cellophane casing. Diamonds in a bottle. Citrus and biscuit, minerals and toast. Always fresh despite its intensity, just like its drinkers.
950 AED, $300
Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial NV
Champagne for people who don’t really drink champagne. Light and inoffensive with creamy bead. But doesn’t taste like much. At all. Great label to flash around because everyone knows you forked out some bucks for the real stuff. Even if you call it Moway.
290 AED, $55
Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon (vintage)
The champagne you take when you get invited to a BBQ lunch on a 75 foot pleasure cruiser. Or when you are asking the potential in-laws for their daughter’s hand in marriage. Rich, ballsy cuvée with enough prestige to make everyone think you’re awesome.
Mumm Cordon Rouge NV
Mothers’ Day gift. Saves you buying a card because it already says who it’s for on the bottle. Used to be a very soapy Champagne but recent vintages are improving. Light and creamy style with a gentle fizz that can get a little too flabby or crusty with age. Bit like mums really.
250 AED, $42
Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut NV
Girly bubbles. Floral, fruity and light with just hints of toast and development, whilst still being beautifully dry. Very elegant stuff that can be drunk all afternoon without too much trouble. Drink with salmon sashimi and flippant canapes.
250 AED, $57
Perrier Jouet Belle Époque (vintage)
The bottle you buy for the occasion that can never be forgotten. Not just because it’s the ballet dancer of champagne, lightly dancing over your palate with elegance and grace, but also because of the art nouveau hand painted bottle that is begging to be turned into a lamp.
650 AED, $220
Piper Heidsieck Brut NV
Pop for learners. Used to be one of the cheapest of the big guns on the market, and you got what you paid for. In recent years, the style has improved remarkably but it still hovers about 10 quid below Moet and Veuve. Very balanced Champagne with trademark lees and crackers character, crisp apple and not too much ferality (you wont want too much of that until you’ve gotten used to champagnes).
230 AED, $37
Pol Roger NV
the NV champagne for connoisseurs. And prime ministers (Winston Churchill was a fan). But don’t hold that against it. Finds the balance between girly and brutish, fruity and bready, earthy and mineral, developed and fresh. Soft enough to drink great quantities of.
320 AED, $69
Ruinart Blanc de Blanc NV
The most selfish of Champagnes, because you’re not going to want to share it. Not as expensive as a prestige, but will break the bank just a little. 100% Chardonnay, nutty, complex, bundles of brioche and very, very dry. Good aperitif.
350 AED, $80
Taittinger Brut Reserve NV
Breakfast libations. Just enough butter and toast flavours to offset the delicate strawberries and cream, and leanness to cut through those chicken and bacon sandwiches… But not enough to give you a bellyache in the AM. Very balanced and a good crowd pleaser.
230 AED, $55
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne (Blanc de Blanc, Vintage)
More layers than an 80s ra-ra skirt and far more elegant. 100% Chardonnay, so quite floral and mineral, with bracing structure to offset the rich development. For serious wine wankers, because nobody else will understand the complexity they are forking out the dosh for.
750 AED, $280
Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label NV
Party wine! Crowd pleaser with Enough trademark Champagne flavour (yeast, brioche, apple) so even if your guests can’t see the label, they know you’ve bought the real deal. But it’s always best to flash that gaudy yellow label around a bit anyway, just for good measure.
290 AED, $55
So what’s your style? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Do you agree with me? Are there some labels I haven’t added that you’d like to see in there? Trust me, I’ve drunk my fair share of Champagne, so I will probably know it – If I don’t, it’ll give me a project!