Fancy a drink? Sam Wylie-Harris raises her glass to this week’s best buys.
IN lifestyles of the rich and famous, chalky soil is to champagne as the Caspian Sea is to Beluga caviar – you can’t have one without the other, and the former tastes like liquid gold!
One of the most desirable, impressive and copied labels in the world, it’s easy to forget that champagne comes only from the Champagne region of France, 90 miles north-east of Paris.
The delicate vines that produce this fine wine are planted on the sunniest slopes and set on a thick, chalky sub-soil that allows easy drainage, providing a unique nurturing environment.
Out of the 280 houses that produce champagne, 30 international brands live in perfect harmony using grapes either from their own vineyards, or bought from local growers to produce their own effervescent bubbles.
From the Montagne de Reims to the Cote des Blancs, armies of pickers have just taken part in the annual harvest to gather thousands of tons of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay grapes by hand.
For Champenois to raise their tulip-shaped glasses and declare a vintage season, the grapes have to be from an outstanding harvest of the same year as opposed to being blended from reserve wines from previous ones.
Movie buffs will recognise Bollinger as James Bond’s champagne of choice, and it’s one of the few remaining family-owned Grande Marque houses.