“My only regret in life is that I did not drink more champagne.” So said renowned economist and father of macroeconomics, John Maynard Keynes, just before he died in 1946; and we take fair warning from this regrettable regret.
Champagne is, after all, the stuff of life; never more so than when normal life is gradually, tentatively, starting to resume. Champagne is for celebration; and what could be a greater reason to celebrate than ever-increasing numbers of fully vaccinated citizens, and hospitality doors opening left, right and centre?
So it’s time to learn from John, and to appreciate champagne in all its celebratory glory this summer. Trust us; you don’t want to have any regrets where champagne is concerned. And, luckily, we know of a few bottles — and champagne houses — that might just help to get you started on your road of much-deserved indulgence…
Celebrate in style this summer with Louis Roederer's Cristal Vinotheque 1999
On 1 July, Louis Roederer will be appearing at The Savoy in glamorous, glittering pop-up form. That’s right; the renowned champagne house is taking up residence at one of London’s most iconic hotels until 31 August (from 12:00-7:00pm, Wednesday-Sunday), in a unique, stylish pop-up boutique; and it’ll be packed to the brim with the brand’s very finest champagnes. An extremely limited Coteaux Champenois ‘Hommage a Camille’, for example, to which we’re proudly partial.
And then the Cristal Vinotheque 1999. You’ll want to take note of its availability at The Savoy pop-up; because this is a highly exclusive bottle with less than 100 bottles available in the UK market. It boasts complex aromas of dried fruits, clear honey and even crushed chalk, with gentle hints of woodsmoke providing the perfect counterpoint. It’s full-bodied on the palate, with ripe flavours and a discernible texture; and it concludes with a beautifully defined, elegant finish.
Louis Roederer Cristal Vinotheque 1999 (£950)
Berry Bros & Rudd Champagne is the perfect choice for summer
Taking the form of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, this champagne is sourced from the Grand Cru village in Mailly, and has been aged for more than three years on the yeast lees. That’s a long time, gents; and the lengthy aging process has resulted in a pretty spectacular champagne with notes of fresh bread and lemon curd. The latter, especially, puts us in mind of a hazy summer’s day…as do the rest of the tasting notes.
With delectable aromas of brioche and flowers on the nose, and lemongrass and honeysuckle on the palate, this truly is the perfect champagne for a long summer’s evening (or afternoon; we’re certainly not going to dissuade you).
Berry Bros & Rudd Champagne
For a champagne of the utmost sophistication, opt for Bollinger’s Special Cuvée
This delectable blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier is aged for more than twice the amount of time required by its appellation (if you’re unsure what we’re referring to here, allow us to refer you to our wine glossary); and the result is a champagne of the very finest calibre.
With markedly delicate bubbles, there’s a discernibly aromatic complexity on the nose, with aromas of red fruit and spice; and the palate bears witness to bubbles that feel more like velvet than anything else, with flavours of pear, brioche and fresh walnut, among others. Best of all? Like the previous offering, it’s perfect for summer, pairing as it does with fish and seafood; you’ll want to get the lobster out for this one. Trust us.
Bollinger Special Cuvée
If you’re looking for a champagne of the utmost purity, Billecart Salmon Brut Nature is the one for you
If you’re firstly a fan of dry champagne, and secondly familiar with Billecart Salmon’s Brut Reserve wine, then you’ll want to pay attention here: the Brut Nature champagne is a drier version of the aforementioned wine, with absolutely no added sugar.
Bright and pure on the eyes, with a pale gold intensity, it bears complex aromas on the nose — dried fruits and brioche make themselves known, together with delicate hints of lemon verbena — and there’s are layered biscuit flavours on the palate, together with white fruits and a sublime minerality. This bottle can be enjoyed with such summery dishes as gambas, grilled scallops and ceviche; just the thing for a night of al fresco dining.
Billecart Salmon Brut Nature
Krug’s 168th Grande Cuvée is a hedonistic, indulgent champagne of the highest variety
Pleasure seekers, unite: Krug’s 168th edition of its world-renowned Grande Cuvée is a transportative bottle for those seeking a summer of hedonism, indulgence and decadence (only in the most gentlemanly manner, of course).
Those in the know will be aware that Krug re-creates its Grande Cuvée every year, and subsequently blends over 120 individual wines from more than 10 different years. This formulation offers a promise of pleasure just from its delicate, vivacious bubbles; and the tasting notes don’t disappoint. Flowers in bloom and citrus fruits in all varieties appear on the nose, swiftly followed by flavours of nougat, jellied and citrus fruits, almonds, brioche and honey. Decadence, indeed; and decadence of the very finest form.
Krug 68th Grande Cuvée
Make a toast to the summer of a lifetime with Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut
Brut Yellow Label is another bottle recreated every year; thanks to Verve Clicquot’s priceless collection of reserve wines. The yellow label is indicative of the champagne’s jubilant, joyful personality; making it the perfect option for what is bound to be a jubilant, joyful summer. This is the maison’s signature champagne, and the champagne against which all the other Verve Clicquot champagnes are judged; and for good reason.
Merging strength with silkiness, this is a champagne with aromatic intensity and freshness; making it ideal as an aperitif, or as a meal accompaniment. Yellow and white fruits, brioche and vanilla make themselves known here — and when it comes to food pairings, you could do worse than fish tartar, blinis, salmon or parmesan. Bottoms up!
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut
Louis Roederer's Cristal 2013 is about as iconic as champagne gets
Louis Roederer’s Cristal 2013 is one of the most iconic bottles from one of the most renowned champagne houses in the world. Its soft golden hue is second to none, to say nothing of its powerfully complex flavours on the palate: mirabelle plum, nectarine, candied orange and hazelnut all gently flow into the tastebuds, together with a discernible chalky freshness that gives the wine an elegantly powerful texture.
It can be found at the Savoy-located pop-up, of course; and if you’re really looking to celebrate this summer, you could opt for the Suite Dining Experience: an overnight stay at The Savoy (available from 1-31 July), including a three-course meal: Carlingford oysters are on the menu, as is a seared Welsh lamb fillet; and, of course, each dish has been expertly paired with Louis Roederer’s finest champagnes — expect to see Cristal 2013, for one, making a graceful appearance in its delectable, bubbly form.
Louis Roederer Cristal 2013 (£235)
Still looking for the optimum meal pairing? These are the best meals to cook over a barbecue this summer…
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