Champagne? Yes, please! It’s International Champagne DAY ….

Bored with the usual mainstream brands of Champagne?

champagne-sea-wmNow that is a phrase that I cannot ever, in any future breath, conceivably imagine myself ever saying. I can never imagine a time when I will have had too much Champagne of any kind…. That said, I can assure you that now, more than anytime in recent decades, there is plenty of choice when looking for your next bottle of Champagne.

The Champagne region has always worked very hard to be synonymous with celebrations, so much that the popping of a cork generally brings smiles all round. With more Champagne vineyards being planted to be able to keep up supply, there has been an increase in these grape growers producing their own Champagnes instead of just selling their grapes to the large Champagne houses.

You can identify a ‘grower’ Champagne by the code Read More

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When nothing but Champagne will do ….the wines of JL Vergnon

Vergnon-Murmure-wmThe Champagnes from the house of JL Vernon have much to offer by way of delight and the cellar door in the centre of the village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger is well worth a visit. Being Cote des Blancs fruit, most of these wines are sourced from Grand Cru vineyards. All bar the rose are 100% Chardonnay, blanc de blancs wines made by Christophe Constant.

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Two of the best bubbles from Australia



Arras 2004 Grand Vintage

This wine puts Tasmanian sparkling wine firmly on that bench where all the best fizz sit.  Ed Carr must have a very long bench indeed, just from the trophies and gongs his sparklers have claimed and deservedly so.  I am looking forward to seeing what Arras do next.

The Arras Grand Vintage 2004 articulates a depth of complexity that piques the interest.  This is one for full flavoured, finely textured Champagne lovers with its rich brioche, honey and almond nougat opulence overlaying the zesty citrus fruit, peel and all.

The lushness is kept fresh with a line of acid along the length with a tauter finish. A good fizz for that special celebration or to enjoy with a light starter to put a touch of luxury to your meal.  I would happily drink, and have, this over some of the mainstream Grande Marques you find on the retail shelves in Australia.

Date: February 2014   Price:  $70    Value: $$$   Drink: Now  – 3 years


Chandon Cuvee Prestige 2004

This is not necessarily one of the Chandon sparklers that you will find when you walk into your local bottle-o.  You will need to buy direct from Chandon if you want it either call them to arrange or drop in. It is in such limited supply that I doubt that it will even be listed in their online shop. I tasted it at the Sydney Royal Wine Show tasting and was impressed.

It is one of the few wines that, in my opinion, may in the future give the House of Arras a bit of a rumble for top dog of Australian sparkling.  And a little bit of healthy competition is a good thing as it keeps everyone on their toes.

The texture of this fizz is one that you will remember. A chardonnay dominant blend (58%), it is curvaceous and soft, and it lovingly fills your mouth with creamy toasted stonefruit and citrus fruits and buttery brioche.   It will be an enlightening foodworthy companion for lunch or dinner or for that special occasion if you want to buy an Australian alternative to Champagne.

Date: February 2014   Price:  $89.50    Value: $   Drink: Now  – 3 years




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Krug Grande Cuvee


Krug Grande Cuvee

Krug Grande Cuvee is a blend of up to 120 wines.

Tantalising your nose with nutty brioche, honeyed citrus, baked apple with caramel sauce and offset with a hint of briny oyster shell. This is a wine with more depth of character and maturity than most which will mean that you will love it or not.  There is no way that you will walk away from the experience without an opinion.

It is elegantly curved with a graceful acid structure and a length that is incredibly giving. Here you are drinking layers of wine up to twenty years old including six years in the cave to integrate. It is a great Champagne to drink with food so there is no need to rush or to have to give up your glass as you sit down to dinner. It is a Champagne that is as fresh after a night with friends at the theatre as it is before.  Exceptional.

Date:        Price:  $198+   Value: $   Drink:  Now – 5 yrs

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Singapore Airlines – a class of its own

Being greeted at the door with a glass of my choice of Dom Perignon or Krug is exactly how I wanted to start my afternoon with Singapore Airlines! ‘Just part of the First Class service, it is lovely to meet you’….. ‘ahh!’, said I, trying to decide.  So you tell me, what would you choose?

I wish that I was, in fact, about to fly off to a destination far away but at least I can settle for a tutorial over a luxurious lunch with the Singapore Airlines team, complete with one of their wine experts, Michael Hill-Smith MW.  The Singapore Airlines wine panel is also first class with not only Hill-Smith but also Steven Spurrier and Jeannie Cho Lee MW and the wine list in all cabin levels is chosen by this team.

In the battle for the business class traveller, Singapore Airlines takes food and wine very seriously indeed. After the seat width, food and wine is a battle ground for supremacy with the winner getting happy people sitting on said seat.  And with a portion of the market choosing their airline on the basis of the Champagne served, Hill-Smith feels he would be disappointed if they did not offer the choice of two.

The philosophy behind choosing the wines for the lists follows along the line of ‘best of the old world and best of the new’. They ensure that there is a selection of interesting wines from around France, Italy and Germany as well as Australia, New Zealand and the US. It is an opportunity to get a snapshot of what is happening in the world of wine at that moment.

Twice a year, the panel meet to taste up to 1,000 bottles in the typical show format – ‘blind’ and scored. While each list has at least two white and two red per cabin, they are often route specific. For instance, you could not get away without an Australian Shiraz en route to London.  Therefore there may be 45 different wines being poured around the world on Singapore Airlines at any one time.

While maintaining diversity in the wines on offer is key, Singapore Airlines is the only airline serving nothing but super seconds in their Bordeaux choice.  They also have an impressive cellar that allows them to serve mature wines.  Perhaps just as impressive is their level of investment in training their Air Sommeliers making sure that they are armed with the knowledge to assist you in your wine choice.

Now to get back to my original dilemma… Krug or Dom Perignon? Here are the tasting notes – I will let you decide for yourself :

Dom Perignon Cuvee 2003: Alive with minerality, ripe citrus and peel with some smoky spice and cream, the aromas of the 2003 are enticing.  Compared to previous vintages there is a higher portion of Pinot Noir adding depth and there is an extra dollop of cream on the finish.  With a soft mousse on entry, the mineral backbone is fresh and long.  A style that can be paired with food as evidenced by how enjoyable it was with the Roast Barramundi with Piedmont hazelnuts, steamed diamond clams and garlic butter because I could not put it down before the arrival of the main course.

Krug Grande Cuvee : Tantalising your nose with nutty brioche, honeyed citrus, baked apple with caramel sauce and offset with a hint of briny oyster shell this is a wine with more depth of character and maturity than most. It is elegantly curved with a graceful acid structure and a length that is incredibly giving.  A Champagne that would be as fresh after a night with friends at the theatre as it would before.

If Champagne is not your style, I am sure that you will be able to find something that you will enjoy on the list.  What about an impeccably balanced Weinhaus Ress 2010 Riesling or the Louis Latour Chateau Corton Grancey 2005 that shapes your mouth into a permanent smile?

This article was first published on Sip Your Style in September 2012.  Written by Lisa Johnston.

Photos taken by Fiora Sacco & used courtesy of Singapore Airlines.

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