Helping Consumers to Understand What’s in the Bottle

13th November 2019

Eve Walkey - Philippe Brun - Neil Phillips

Spot-light on easy to understand trigger word categories – Sea Breeze, Summer Days, Light & Fruity, Creamy, Oaky & Toasty, Gastronomic, Forget Me Not etc -the aim is to show that consumers may know what to expect in the glass.

As a traditional pro, I have spent half a century poking around the cellars of Champagne, Burgundy and Alsace in search of great wines, fizzy & still. Inevitably, though, as a so-called ‘expert’ I have a few prejudices, likes and dislikes. And when I started as the honorary judge for the Glass of Bubbly Awards in 2017, it took me a while to adapt to the sound bites of modern idiom, which occasionally seemed remote from the pleasures of a convivial glass. Now, I am fairly converted to the vivid simple imagery that these categories, in the main, convey: Let’s face it, anything that demystifies the jargon of wine speak is a boon, a reassurance to consumers wanting to learn more and so gradually build an appreciation of fine wine, without snobbery and pretension; it’s also great for top sparkling producers hunting for new young, better informed markets on five continents.

Personal Trophy Favourites – an embarrassment of riches

The World’s Finest Glass of Bubbly 2019 –  Champagne Roger Brun Reserve Familiale 2004. Made by Roger himself and a wonderful present, as he touches his 78th birthday. Always a winemaker highly respected for the succulence and elegance of his Champagnes. You can read more about Champagne Roger Brun in my other article: Champagne Roger Brun

Gastronomic – Fox & Fox Midnight Dark Dry Rosé Brut 2011. A particularly exciting hedonistic wine, where the vintage was better in Sussex than in Champagne. Here is a wonderful and versatile wine that will pair with many firn foods. Their Inspiration Blanc de Blancs is just as fine, innovative, based on 99% Pinot Gris and 1% Chardonnay – a definite trailblazer.

Classic & Elegant – Champagne Frèrejean Frère Cuvée des Hussard 2012 1er Cru. A newish venture based in Avize, part financed by a member of the Taittinger family; classic precepts, real potential.

Sea Breeze – Lantieri Franciacorta Satén DOCG. Textbook Satén, 100% Chardonnay, emphasis on optimal freshness aided by soft pressing of the grapes Sea Breeze is the right phrase, one can sense the gentle salty breeze on nose and in the mouth. Class.

Summer Days  Raimes Vintage Rose. An enchanting, smiling rosé from Augusta Raimes’ 10 acre vineyard near Winchester in East Hampshire, the choicest part of England that has the best composition of chalk akin to Champagne.

Oaky and Toasty – Ferrari Trento Perlé 2013. This is one of the most admired and loved vintage Metodo Classico sparkling wines of Italy – in Milan bars & restaurants, the discerning call simply for a Perlé, making it a magical brand in its own right. The category descriptor poses a bit of a problem, as all the bubble wines of Ferrari are essentially fermented in stainless steel to show the unadulterated purity of the exceptional elevated terroir (territory) of its mountain home. There may be a tiny soupçon of oak to add complexity but what some tasters see as oaky is in fact not that but the flavour of long lees ageing. Arresting bright straw-green, filigreed, exquisitely fine bubbles, a rush of the full range of the citrus and apple repertoire, hints of almond and a long vertical driving palate, some flattering toastiness, too. As ideal as an aperitif as with a dish of Spaetzle, egg noodles.

Fireworks – Vina Kobal Teranova Penina Tera. Extraordinary power and extrovert explosiveness, almost a whiff of gunpowder from this Slovenian red sparkling wine. A riot of bold assertive flavours for chilli laced Thai creations.

Endnote –

These third year Glass of Bubbly Awards 2019 have come of age, showing a true mix of classic refined wines with adventurous innovations. Not only an upward curve of quality but greatly strengthened judging panels of wine professionals and sommeliers as a healthy balance with committed wine enthusiasts. Italy really showed its paces, Ferrari Trento of the Lunelli family, proving its stellar worth as Italy’s finest in the ever regular Perlé, now a brand in its own right, and one of the best values in fine wine anywhere.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards

Internationally respected Champagne, Sparkling Wine and food author & journalist. Ex Chief Inspector & Wine Editor for the Egon Ronay 'Restaurant Guide'.