I’ve struggled with Champagne in the past. Maybe it’s cos I’m a penny pinching northerner? Fair enough, but for years the idea of paying £30+ for a bottle of entry level bubbles has never made sense. That’s two bottles of really good Cava or Crémant that!
I have to admit that vintage Champagne is tough to beat. Normally Champagne is made non-vintage, that is producers mix grapes from different years together to make a house style. Vintage Champagnes are from years when the grapes are so good that they’ll make an amazing wine on their own. You’ll have to pay up, but they’ll invariably bloody good!
I also began to soften on a trip I made last year to Aube, the most southerly region of Champagne. A lot less famous, a lot less visited, now full of small producers trying to add a little bit extra than just the consistent house styles of the Grand Marques. They still cost a bit, after all it’s a very expensive production process, but they weren’t nuts. It’s nice to have seen that it’s not all about rinsing customers and spending the profits on huge PR drives.
I visited the CIVC (Champagne Council) tasting last week and met up with Andrew from Connoisseur Estates, who imports a lovely Champagne Autréau. He is a completely unashamed lover of Champagne and points out that the experience of drinking Champagne takes it over the line. He’s worked with Champagne since the 1970s and has never lost the feel good factor of working with it or drinking it. He’s dead set that you simply can’t ignore that!
So I guess that’s where I’m at. Is that feel good factor worth the extra tenner to me? Am I ok with buying wine from areas that I know it costs a shit lot of money to actually make the stuff in the first place? I’ll just have to keep drinking the stuff and find out, eh?