Tag Archives: chardonnay

Champagne, in the snow…

How do you keep your spirits up when the weather is grim and grey? Drink bubbles of course! And the best bubbles are from the Côte des Blancs in Champagne, where chardonnay rules and the dosage sugar is kept low. So that’s where we go early December…

And blimey it was blanc, très blanc. We beat the snow by a day, but it caught us up. Not that it stopped us drinking the stuff, copious quantities, all in the name of research (to get our tastiest bargain…)

Épernay has a little festival first week in December – Les Habit de Lumière – well worth a visit if you want to see how the locals consumer their fizz…

Ahem…, several of the drinkers in these shots may well not be from Épernay at all… I shall not give their identities away…

Gimonnet and Bouquin Dupont came out top in our dedicated and fastidious research, so we stocked up (Mrs P cannot go a week without at least one glass of blanc de blanc); the car was loaded up and off we headed home, into the teeth of a storm and a slightly anxious ferry crossing. Didn’t spill a drop or pop a bubble. That’s the way to do it!

(Duchies – we missed you this year. Don’t go missing this again!)


Happiness is…. Champagne!

Isn’t it odd how a bit of fizz can create such happiness in the world… And the best fizz of course is Champagne. Which is why every so often Mrs P demands a weekend trip to France to stock up on the happy making drink.

bottles of the bubbly stuff...

Bottles of the bubbly stuff…

I must admit I’m rather partial myself and being a francophile I don’t mind zooming across the Pas de Calais and Picardie to get to the Chardonnay vineyards just east of Paris. And how beautiful those vineyards were this weekend! It was cold, very. The frost had come down in force. Whilst Mrs P stayed in the warm luxurious hotel run by Champagne wizard M. Selosse, I got myself out to take some pics…

"le givre", I learned...

“Le givre”, I learned…

left overs for the birds

Left-overs for the birds

Now Moët et Chandon (don’t forget to pronounce the ‘t’) and Pol Roger is all very good, but we tend to go for the smaller viticulteurs. For a start their prices aren’t so astronomic, and they’re much friendlier too. M. Tissier, head of the cooperative in Chavot-Courcourt, gave us the full tour of the winery and then a full tasting of the full range of all his champagnes, plus a full glass of Marc de Champagne. Impossible not to indulge and buy 6 cases there and then…

they used to turn this lot every day by hand. Now a machine does it every hour.

They used to turn this lot every day by hand. Now a machine does it every hour.

Now M. Tissier’s nectar is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and very occasionally a hint of Pinot Noir. My favourite bottle is also stored for 3 years in Burgundy oak barrels (min 5 years old so the tannin has disappeared of course!). As a contrast however, we felt it was imperative to investigate M. and Mme Bouquin Dupont’s champagne as well. Nothing like another glass (or more) to crystallise one’s tasting notes…

no machinery here. All turning done by hand.

No machinery here. All turning done by hand.

the old ways are still the best!

The old ways are still the best!

les proprietaries showing us how to get the cork into the bottle (personally I like getting it out)

Les proprietaries showing us how to get the cork into the bottle (personally I like getting it out)

The Bouquin Duponts specialise in Blanc de Blancs – that’s just chardonnay and nothing else to you and me – so impossible not to add another 6 cases of that to the credit card damage. Lucky I brought a large enough car!

And then on to party into the late evening. Epernay was hosting its Champagne festival so we felt we ought to indulge just a bit more. As you can see, the evening remained completely sober throughout.

Our good friends Jan and Desiree getting into the spirit!

Our good friends Jan and Desiree getting into the spirit!

Mrs P keeps a firm hold on her bottle...

Mrs P keeps a firm hold on her bottle…

Well, I did say it was a happy making drink! Cheers, tchin tchin, and a Merry Christmas to you all.