There’s no wrong occasion for a glass of bubbly, but finding the right food to pair it with can be tricky. So who better to guide you through the ins and outs than someone born and raised up in the Champagne region? Step forward Majestic Cobham Store Manager Lionel Rosnet.
The pleasure of enjoying the best French fizz is a complex business. With that in mind, I have a few tips on serving your favourite bubbly this spring, to make it truly sing with the dishes I’m recommending.
Rule number one: no chilling in the freezer! All you need is a bucket, water and ice cubes and in just 20 minutes you’ll be sipping your favourite drink at the perfect temperature: 7-9°C. My general tip would be too cold is better than too warm, but not for vintage sparkling wine. With this, there’s no need to put the bottle back in the bucket once opened. Leave it out and enjoy the wine at a slightly warmer temperature so that all its complexity can reach your senses.
There is one question that always comes back to my ears: ‘how many bottles do I need?’ Simple. There are six flutes in a bottle, no more, no less. So you can multiply from here. When pouring, start with a little in each of your six glasses, then fill almost to the top without losing the foam.
To clear up an old myth, putting a silver spoon in the neck of the bottle to keep the fizz for tomorrow does not work. You can use a sparkling closure (we sell them in-store for just £2.99), but my tip is that it is sacrilege to waste those millions of delightful bubbles after the years of hard work that have gone into each bottle. So you might agree it would be best to just share it amongst friends on the spot. Santé!
Perle de Vigne Crémant de Bourgogne NV, Louis Bouillot, France
£9.99 £8.99 (Hurry! Offer ends 12 March) Thereafter, £11.99 or £9.99 when you buy 2 bottles
Introduced in 1975, this was the first Crémant appellation in France. Based in Nuits-Saint-Georges, Louis Bouillot’s offering is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made in the traditional method with the second fermentation in bottle and a minimum of nine months on lees.
Tasting Notes: Notes of citrus and stone fruits on the nose, followed by a lemony and honeyed palate with flavours of caramelised apples.
Serving Suggestion: A perfect party fizz, but food-wise there is no better match than the Burgundian classic blanquette de veau – creamy veal stew with carrots, onions and leeks.
Bouvet Ladubay Saumur NV, France
£11.99 or £9.99 when you buy 2 bottles
Created in 1851, this renowned estate was at one time the largest producer of sparkling wines in the world, making seven million bottles a year. If you think that would jeopardise the quality of its cuvées, consider the 100 gold medals won in international competitions between 1972 and 2010.
Tasting Notes: Freshness leaps out of the glass and inviting lemon and pear aromas make a great sensorial experience. The wine is vivacious on the palate and delivers a perfumed mouthful of pears, with hints of pepper and liquorice.
Serving Suggestion: Made of 100% Chenin Blanc, it will be the perfect accompaniment to a lightly roasted fish on a bed of green vegetables served with a caper sauce.
Oeil de Perdrix Rosé NV
£18.00 (Hurry! Offer ends 12th March) Thereafter, £25.00 or £20.00 when you buy 2 bottles
This style of pink Champagne became popular over the centuries due to unintentional bleeding of black grape skins into the white juice rather than any marketing genius. The secret of this truly sensational blush is the addition of Pinot Noir before the second fermentation in bottle. A must buy for Valentine’s Day!
Tasting Notes: A beautiful thing to look at and a unique, satisfying wine. Sweet red fruits and savoury aromas on the nose, followed by a mouthful of delicate apples and yeasty dough.
Serving Suggestion: Best with fresh raspberry and strawberry based puddings, or a rich, dark chocolate tart.
Gratien & Meyer Saumur Blanc Brut NV, France
£11.99 or £9.99 when you buy 2 bottles
Another historical estate for sparkling Saumur, founded in 1864. This cuvée blends Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay for great fragrance and a persistent, complex palate.
Tasting Notes: Very pale yellow, with fine bubbles rushing to the top of the glass. It has rich, fresh, fruity aromas and is firm, long-lasting and fruity in the mouth.
Serving Suggestion: I would recommend pairing this slightly richer style with a white meat dish like breast of turkey with a turnip and chestnut purée.
Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV
Created in Epernay in 1811 at the start of Continental Europe’s glory days in the Belle Époque, this House has stayed true to its original commitment to uncompromising quality ever since.
Tasting Notes: Marvellous to look at – its chimneys of fine bubbles are like pearls. The nose has brioche, orange rind and caramelised apples. The invigorating palate has a striking balance between richness and finesse. The flavours never seem to end!
Serving Suggestion: Try with smoked salmon and dill on rye bread with lemon crème fraîche.
A non-vintage cuvée and classical blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, using up to 20% reserve wines to ensure a smooth, round finish and great depth of flavour. De Telmont celebrates its 100th anniversary this year – another reason to crack open a bottle of this delicious Champagne.
Tasting Notes: A fruity nose of quince and pear, followed by floral and mineral notes. Nice, round attack on the palate. The wine is subtle, light and fruity with a good, rounded finish.
Serving Suggestion: Its inherent richness will be a perfect match to a spicy, fruity starter like curried prawns and roasted pineapple kebabs.