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Christmas Champagne: 'Tis the season for fizz

Fri 17 Dec 2010 11:56


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If you’re looking to add a bit of sparkle to your festive soirees this Christmas then Champagne is definitely the way to go.

There’s something a little bit special about Champagne. Sales of Prosecco, Cava and other sparkling wines are really strong, but the magic of the name Champagne always adds a bit of elegance and class.

We Brits are huge consumers of Champers, the best known sparking wine around the globe. There are many different types of course, with varying degrees of sweetness but the vast majority of it is dry or has “Brut” on the label.

It also comes in many styles, including non-vintage Champagnes (made by blending the grapes from many harvests together) and vintage Champagnes, made only in the very best years when the grape harvest was excellent.  

Here is a quick guide to the most common different types:
Non-vintage: made with grapes from the current harvest, plus older 'reserve' wines blended in
Vintage:  made only with grapes from the current harvest, in particularly good years
Blanc de Blancs: made only from white Chardonnay grapes
Blanc de Noirs:  made only from the black Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes
Rosé: often made by blending in a little red wine
Prestige Cuvée: top of the range from each Champagne house: expensive and rare

1. Pol Roger Réserve Champagne Brut, priced at £35 from Majestic (on offer at £25 until January 31)
This is a non-vintage Champagne from one of the top houses, and the wine that was said to be Winston Churchill's favourite.  ntense apple fruit and creamy bubbles give this Champagen an elegant, refined finish.

Lovely fresh flavours of apples and digestive biscuits make this Champers a great match for fish with buttery or creamy sauces.

2. Waitrose Vintage Champagne Brut 2002, priced £26.59 (on offer at £22.99)
From the best Champagne vintage in decades, if you can bear the fact that it is a supermarket own label you will get a fabulous bargain here: with hazelnut richness and ripe orchard fruits. Classy.

This lovely bottle of fizz has flavours of hazelnuts and pears, and matches up well with smoked chicken or duck.

3. Dom Perignon 2002, priced at £79.88 from Costco
Dom Perignon is one of the best known Champagnes around. Made from the outstanding 2002 vintage - and perhaps the world's most famous Prestige Cuvee from the Moet & Chandon stable – this has a sumptuous nose of brioche and toast, with wonderful fruit and the finest bubbles imaginable.

Very expensive, but what a treat! This lovely tipple has tasting cues of brioche, almonds, apples and lemons and matches up very well with oysters, caviar and lobster thermidor.

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