Few things sadden the gastronaut as much as wasted champagne.
The bubbles sprayed over the winning team, or tossed back unthinkingly at a reception are from a wine carefully made to impart scent and flavour. Champagne is a serious, not a frivolous drink. Good champagne is delicious and almost all of it is too expensive not to be savoured.
These days “grower-maker” champagnes are, justifiably, all the rage. These wines are more distinct than the big brands, and more variable year to year. The non-vintage versions of the names you likely know are carefully blended from wines of many vintages and various sources to be reliably similar all the time.
Champagne is costly to produce, ship, and vast sums are spent marketing the stuff. We sense that lately some of the big names are making more to meet demand at the expense of quality. So, in time for Christmas and New Years, let’s taste a big brand champagne available in town that remains as good as in the days it was Winston Churchill’s drink, Pol Roger.
The Pol Roger Brut (NLC $73.83)
The Pol Roger ain’t cheap, but it delivers the characteristics that you want from genuine champagne. There is something like fresh apple, chewy yeastiness, some faint faint oxidized notes from the old wines in the mix, and a taste you associate with good pastry or bread, not long out of the oven. It has, and this is Champagne’s magic, crispness and buttery creaminess at the same time.
Drink your good champagne from a proper wine glass to really appreciate it. You look smarter holding that slender flute, but it isn’t well designed for tasting. Have food with the good champagne, lightly smoked fish is always fitting, but it is exquisite with game pates or cold rare beef.
If you want bubbles to spray around the dressing room or pound back behind the bars imprisoning the harbour, don’t blow dough on champagne, get a bottle of prosecco or cava. If it is a very special occasion, in the comfort of your own home, and you are toasting with dear friends, your good fortune in living another year in a peaceful, prosperous place, then champagne might be the ticket. Cheers!