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Anyone else not like Champagne?


There is suuuuuch a range in sparkling wine. From £5 to £500, one can spend literally as much or as little as one wants on a bottle.

I have had good and bad versions from France, England, Spain and Italy. The taste and feel is different to still wine, and though the bubbles are exciting (or so we’re told), the resultant wine doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone. Hearing that here makes me happy, because it means there are people tasting what’s in the glass and deciding for themselves. I’m sure we all know someone who’ll drink anything as long as it’s fizzy.

Sparkling wine for me goes in spurts. I’ll go ages without having any, then there will be an occasion to drink a glass and [if it’s good] it’s like I’ve forgotten I like it and I’ll get a few bottles. My preference is for English or Champagne made with care. I really enjoy a good Cava too, but I need more help in finding the right bottle.

I’ll also add that sometimes I like giving in to the image of a Grande Marque. It’s the appropriate drink with certain friends after a few days in skiing in Val d’Isère, for instance. I don’t know anyone with a yacht. :wink: It doesn’t always live up to the hype though. I love the orange and that script so much, but my last bottle of Veuve Clicquot was such a disappointment. :disappointed:


I’ll admit to quite enjoying some of the bigger names NV bottlings but for me these ‘big’ champagnes really only start to get interesting with vintage offerings. We’ve also liked some less obvious producers and ESW is a nice learning area for me. I enjoy new things which is really the antithesis of a big producers NV

Champagne wise, I’m always thinking what a quality still wine that £20-40 (always buy on offer) would buy and can rarely think of an occasion that I think it’s really worth the extra cost. My wife loves champagne and ESW. Mother in law loves all fizz so we do end up drinking a higher ratio of it than I’d choose too


I completely agree that small growers offer better value and some excellent wines - the flip side is that their champagne can vary a LOT from bottling to bottling. I have had had some amazing finds, only to find that the following year the same producer just wasn’t up to scratch/and or to my taste.

Some of the smaller houses just haven’t got the financial or physical capacity to keep back reserves and to smooth out quality from year to year in the cellar.

As peterm and ChiantiPeter point out: generally it pays to try and lay down some champagne for 6-12 months - particularly because a lot of - particularly smaller - producers release their wine very soon after disgorgement (again, I assume for financial reasons) But if the wine isn’t up to scratch it doesn’t help much.


And that is possibly an issue for ESW at the moment? Effectively most ESW is vintage by definition at present because they just cannot make enough to make a house style NV? I don’t know, I’m just speculating.


Exactly right. Most ESW haven’t been operating long enough to build up emough reserve, those that have been operating for long enough have to balance priorities, whether to meet demand or hold back reserves for future use.

We are seeing the odd NV from longer established ESW makers now, and NV does make sense as it can smooth out a poor vintage


Yes, I think that gradually the main ESW producers are bringing out their NV/MV lines as they accumulate sufficient material for a stable base of reserves.

I’d be a bit cautious about saying that the grand marques are immune from vintage variation due to their use of reserves. Very few use anything like the 50% reserves or so that Krug do, so their NV’s can vary quite a lot according to the base vintage they are on. Worth remembering if a particular wine appeals one year but not the next (or vice versa).

If you like the generally richer style that high levels of reserves bring, another thing you can look for is lines sold as “solera” or more accurately perpetual cuvée. Often it is a specialist line that may not get seen a lot on the export market, but if you are in the area… Essentially they bottle 50% of the blend every year. The other 50% is reserved to form the blend next year. So once the thing is set up, it contains 50% base year (BY), 25% BY-1, 12.5% BY-2 etc. I’m not aware of any of the grands marques doing this (I think) - more a grower idea.

There are also rather rare lines that are entirely made up from reserves, or very nearly. I’ve got one from an Aube grower that is supposed to be 90-95% reserve wine, according to base year.


I remember Remi Krug explaining how difficult the Grand Cuvee was to make each year to remain the same standard, anything up to 60+ wines according to the vintage, but for that effort you payof course.


Going slightly off topic here but I wish more houses would put disgorgement dates on the bottle like Charles Heidsieck do.

Whilst not an issue with the society or other high volume merchants I’ve often wondered just how long some NV has been sitting around smaller merchants, and if I’m spending that kind of money I want to know.


I have yet to discover how Champagne achieved its ‘cult’ status. Personally I dislike it, and am not keen on any other sparkler.
During my WSET we did a proper wine taste on A mid range Champagne…usual stuff, let it go flat, warm it to about 9 degrees. It was awful.

The same issue with Prosecco? A triumph of marketing over substance.


Indeed, non vintage is much harder to make than a vintage as the non vintage needs to be blended to be the same house style year after year, even though each vintage is very different.


Yep. The stuff is utterly wasted on me. The only ones I’ve enjoyed were an old Krug and a Clos Salon, but then each of those is upwards of a hundred quid. Just say no :slight_smile:


I agree with you, Mltch. I don’t like ordinary champagne, nor any of the other French sparklers I’ve tried, nor the prosecco which seems to be all the rage at the moment. I do like expensive champagne, but not enough to make it worth the price. If I’m entertaining and people expect a sparkler then I get in a decent cava (which I also like).


I’m really enjoying reading this book, so thanks for the tip. Eye opening!


a bit late to this but…wise words

I too love Champagne and lots of different sparkling from around the world; the different styles and flavours make it a style of wine to discover your own preferences

I mainly (like @Leah) buy from growers that we visit every couple of years - these people make anywhere from 10k bottles per year upto 100k. Several of them are suppliers of grand cru grapes to the likes of Laurent Perrier, Louis Roederer and other top “Maison”. The tastings are always amazing and these people are true ambassadors of their product

My tip would be the same - if the acid attack of champagne is off-putting give it 18 to 24 months minimum from degorgement to drinking and see the acid mellow and the flavours develop. I was asked recently to review a new Maison for a friend - she loves the acid attack her colleague, like me, would happily wait and se the flavours develop…as with everything - if we all liked the same it would be boring !


Fascinating insight into why Champagne is dominated by industrial scale brands and what growers are doing to change views.


I agree - generally Champagne doesnt do it for me. Overpriced, under-delivers.

However, when it is good… Champagne is superb. Perhaps because it is a special time in anyway ? but I absolutely love Veuve Cliquot NV and buy it whenever I see the price dip to the low £30’s. TWS Brut comes a VERY close second & I get a case in every few years. I doubt we drink more than 3 or 4 bottles a year - it is too expensive.

Basic Champagne I would not touch with your average bargepole, ditto English sparkling, prosecco. And I’m honestly not a snob, it is just that I dont like paying over the odds for crap wine.


Time to read Bursting Bubbles Steve


After blistering through Bursting Bubbles last week, today I took possession of three bottles of Egly-Ouriet and three of Larmandier-Bernier. Very much looking forward to polishing those off in due course! :clinking_glasses:


If you need any help …??? :wink::wink::wink:


Next month, Cedric Bouchard and Jacques Lassaigne. If I’m lucky…