Many thanks to the indomitable Ruth Spivey of www.goodlegslonglength.com for this most excellent bubbles-buying guide. I don’t know about you lot, but I am at a total loss when it comes to choosing wine and champagne – hopefully Ruth will return on a semi-regular basis to give us some pointers. There’s nothing worse than going to a posh dinner and being asked to ‘bring a bottle’ when you have no clue what you’re looking for! (Well, obviously there are worse things, but you know what I mean.)
So, fire away Ruthie! (You can follow Ruth on Twitter and she also writes for Square Meal – see her latest review here: http://www.squaremile.com/reviews/10126/Wife-Wine.html)
“Not that I want to worry you or anything, but you’re running out of time for buying presents, stocking up the rack for when the relatives descend, or simply ensuring you have enough champagne to guarantee personal survival. Yes, yes, it’s only a few days but I never fail to be amazed quite how long those days last, cooped up like a battery hen with all your family, close or extended, pecking away at your sanity with only the dull hum and occasional screech of the Old Vic in background to make you realise there are worse places one could be. I digress… if you like Champagne (not sure the ‘if’ was necessary there) here’s what to go for. And remember to buy plenty – you can drink it any time of the day after all. And when things get a bit much, slink off, pop another cork and sip yourself better.
Krug – trust me it’s delicious – rich, refined, with tiny delicate bubbles. And if you don’t want to stretch to a whole bottle, Berry Brothers even do halves. Which are even cuter. Perfect stocking filler (or present to self).
Billecart-Salmon – if you like rose, this is the best to go for by a country mile, and again, half bottles are available. For something a little different, go for their Demi-Sec. An off dry, ever so sweet Champagne, it works as both an aperitif, with rich meaty pates or in place of dessert wine. By the time dessert wine comes around, do you really want a sickly, viscous syrup? Why not refresh yourself with a demi-sec champagne instead? It’s a much better idea. And a lot more fun.
Pol Roger – I adore Pol Roger. Their NV is consistently rated one of the best NV’s and Cuvee Winston Churchill is worth every penny. The industry love it. Elegant, understated and in the know.
Duval Leroy – I’ve often been surprised by the value offered from this family run (still, despite being a big name) Champagne House, perhaps because it’s not one of the big hitters so to speak. You get very good quality at all price levels. And their vintage versions aren’t too pricey either. It’s stocked at Waitrose too, which makes life easy, including exclusive stocks of their Fleur de Champagne Premier Cru (better grapes from better vineyards)
Ridgeview – Ok this isn’t Champagne, but it’s local, it’s a bit different and, most importantly, it tastes good. There are several English Sparkling wines I could suggest, but Ridgeview, from West Sussex is well regarded and offers both a white (named Bloomsbury) and a rose (named Fitzrovia). If I lived in either of those areas I would buy a bottle of the appropriate bubbly for everyone. Done.
Krug + Billecart-Salmon: Majestic, Corney & Barrow, Berry Brothers, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Waitrose, Fortnum & Mason and many other fine wine merchants. Berry’s for the half bottles (£75) which is rather exciting. Bottle Apostle +others for halves of Billecart Rose.
Waitrose for Duval (though you will find this elsewhere) and Ridgeview. “