Champagne! The older cousin of Prosecco; it is iconic, synonymous with celebrations, boring and overpriced. Prosecco has completely overtaken its French counterpart as the UK’s preferred fizz; and I can see why.
Prosecco is very tasty and affordable. If I’m in Asda and see a bottle for £11, I will be so much more likely to buy it than spend £20 on a bottle of Lanson. To be clear, Champagne itself isn’t boring. In fact, it’s amazing; but it is dominated by a few big names,which are in every shop you go to.
If you go down the aisle in any of the big four supermarkets, all you’ll find is Lanson, Taittinger, Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicqout and Bollinger. There’s nothing wrong with these brands, I’ve even been to both the Taittinger and Veuve Clicqout caves so I would be a hypocrite if I told you to boycott them, but it’s fairly uninspiring to see the same names everywhere you go. Add to that the fact that most of these are retailing between £25-£40 per bottle. I am here to give you a guide to a couple of lesser known, cheaper, alternative champagnes that are equally as delicious and won’t be found in the supermarkets.
Note: This will be one of the few times I snub the convenience factor but, in this case, it is worth it… Trust me.
G.Tribaut Cuvee de Reserve Brut – http://champagne.g.tribaut.com/
G.Tribaut is a small Champagne house based in a village called Hautvillers. Hautvillers is most famously known for being where Dom ‘The Father of Champagne’ Pérignon lived and created his Champagne. Today Dom Pérignon is one of (if not the most) renowned brands of sparkling wine in the world.
This village has been breathing Champagne since DP first started producing it hundreds of years ago. The earliest records show Dom Perignon first started creating his fizz in 1658 – that’s over 350 years of Champagne producing! So it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about creating sparkling wine.
G.Tribaut is situated at the top of a small hill and overlooks a sea of vines, it’s the perfect location to sample champagne and watch the world go by. They have a range of products, but their Cuvee de Reserve Brut is absolutely delicious. It’s a blend of classic Champagne grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier; and at £14.10 (16.50 Euros) per bottle, it’s an absolute bargain.
On New Years Eve, I opened a bottle and paired it with a King prawn, lemon grass and thyme risotto. The Champagne has a delicate taste with hints of orange, offset by a slight hint of bitterness that resonated with grapefruit. The bubbles don’t hit you first but, instead, linger provide a long finish on the roof of your mouth, as if they were dancing on it. It makes you want to take another sip almost instantly.
It is a light drink that isn’t too creamy and the tannins aren’t overwhelming, so it doesn’t spoil the finish with too much bitterness. This paired extremely well with the risotto. The slight presence of tannin completely cut through the acidity that the lemongrass brought and it was light enough to avoid being overwhelming. To put it plainly, I didn’t exactly have to force myself to go back for more; in fact, it was delightful!
Henri Chauvet Blanc de Noirs – http://www.champagne-chauvet.com/
Henri Chauvet Blanc de Noirs is quite simply amazing. Situated in Ruilly-la-Montagne, just a short drive from Hautvillers, Henri Chauvet is a family run business now managed by Damien Chauvet. I had the pleasure of meeting Damien at a small expo in Lille last year and fell in love with his products. I went on a mini road-trip a few months ago and stopped by his cave (cellar) for a tasting.
The Blanc de Noirs is, quite simply, a triumph. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier and it’s almost a shame to drink it because every sip you take brings you closer to finishing the bottle.
It tastes almost like buttered toast that you rescued from the toaster 30 seconds before burning – just in time! There’s very little bitterness to the Champagne and, with each sip, the bubbles sit on your tongue. Unlike the G.Tribaut, they don’t dance; this Champagne has a sort of maturity to it. You instantly respect it but, at the same time, it is light enough to keep going back for another glass… then another… then another.
Click here to buy the Blanc de Noirs.
There you have it. Two beautiful and affordable champagnes that will hopefully be a revelation for you (they were for me). Take a bit more time and, on this occasion, snub the supermarket. You won’t regret it!
*G.Tribaut ships to the UK and you can buy cases of six direct from their website. Case of six including delivery cost = £102. Compare that to 6 x Lanson 75cl from Asda = £120
*The Blanc de Noirs is a little pricier in the UK than it is in France (of course) and it retails on privatecellar.co.uk for £25.95 per bottle. You can buy single bottles, or a case of six, and it is still cheaper than Moet ( which is £32.50 p/b in Tesco)
*All prices accurate of 15/01/2017