What makes Champagne so special?
Champagne (in France) is the region that you can’t really replicate anywhere in the world and I think that’s what makes Champagne very special. I love good MCC (Méthode Cap Classique), I love prosecco but there’s nothing that can be as good as Champagne [because of] the soils and the climate and the history. As a sommelier if I had to drink any one wine in the world forever, it should be Champagne.
The other thing about Champagne is how stylistic it is. During my journey in food and wine pairings I always sought a wine which is balanced. It’s very difficult to get a good balanced wine all the time year after year and, humbly so, they do it perfectly in Champagne and they’ve got the great climate, great varieties and the good tradition and history which is very well regulated so you’ll never find a bad Champagne in a bad year.
The other great thing about Champagne is the versatility. It can be dry, you can have the demi secs and sweets. You can even have sweeter but that versatility is every sommelier’s dream.
What are your top picks of Champagnes for people who are interested in moving past Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot to explore?
My favourite house would be Taittinger. Bollinger. Laurent-Perrier is one of those big houses but good quality. Bichat, they’re good: their blanc de blanc [and] all their rosé as well. I’d probably say those are my top picks.
You’ve given me your Champagne picks, are there some local wine picks that you can give me?
[When it comes to] MCCs I would say I’m a huge fan of Charles Fox. I would say Colmant is one of my favourites. In terms of wines, I tend to drink more wines that are low to medium in alcohol. In general, my favourite wines are those that show off finesse and elegance more than power. I love nuance and freshness and elegance.
How should people be enjoying Champagne?
Never serve Champagne warm. [It needs to be] very chilled, the most chillable you can. 8-10°C would be best.
What’s the best way to pour Champagne?
Please don’t pop the cork. It must just make that silent sigh. Generally, you should be opening at a 35 [degree angle]. People tend to hold it upright and maybe it has been warm and shaking. So a small trick is just to tilt the bottle. If you see the bubbles coming out just gently tilt it and it flattens out. No need to panic.
What is the best glassware?
I’m very particular about glasses. I know the traditional long flute is what people associate with it. I think it looks great but I like the tulip shape. I think it concentrates the flavours and enhances the drinking of Champagne. The traditional flute concentrates CO2 at the top, making it challenging to savour the aroma. [But] it is still ideal for events like weddings where the spectacle is paramount.
Any advice to get the perfect temperature?
[You can pop it into] a bucket of ice. To shorten time, just add some salt to the water. That’s a quick way of chilling a bottle of wine.
• The Absa Champagne in Africa Festival will take place November 10-11 from 6-9pm. Tickets cost R1,950 through Quicket.
Original Story by www.timeslive.co.za