Six Champagnes under £40 to get your party started

Published on Yahoo Lifestyle UK & Ireland on 6th December 2013:

Christmas wines

A quick trawl through the internet will reveal endless quotes from persons of note and their ode to Champagne. There is a reason for that.

As far as celebrations go, there’s nothing that quite completes it like the popping of a Champagne cork. And as far as wines go, there’s no style of wine quite like Champagne.

It’s a wine that takes years to craft and gets its bubbles and flavours from a secondary fermentation in the bottle. It’s a skilled job to get the wine just right and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so expensive.

Thankfully with Christmas coming up, there are plenty of Champagnes on offer out there. Here are just six Champagnes to get the party started:

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Duval-Leroy at The Greenhouse Mayfair

Published on Bon Vivant on 14th November 2012:

When we think of champagne, we inevitably think of canapés; indeed, this is the most frequent mode of delivery. At a stretch, perhaps, we think of demi-sec or sec with desserts. But outside of champagne enthusiasts, how many of us sit down to champagne matched to every course?

Well, as I discovered over a Duval-Leroy lunch at The Greenhouse, the French serve nothing but champagne at weddings, making it the ultimate celebratory drink. That’s a rather apt discovery since Duval-Leroy is one champagne house that’s very focused on their food. Take their Lady Rose, which was originally created for Pierre Hermé macaroons. But more on that later.

First, let’s sit down to a selection of their champagnes matched by head chef Arnaud Bignon’s specially created menu.

Duval-Leroy has 15 cuvées in its portfolio. We started with Fleur de Champagne 1er Cru NV as an aperitif, a champagne which celebrated its centenary last year and is Duval-Leroy’s best sellers in the restaurant trade. It’s not hard to see why it’s so popular – a delicate floral nose with a solid structure, ready to stand up against any likely canapé pairings.

Wild salmon, coconut, wasabi, curry, salad, Champagne Duval-Leroy lunch at The Greenhouse, Mayfair

Next up was the Rosé Prestige 1er Cru NV. This salmon-pink champagne is said to boast a bouquet of cherries, figs and even a hint of ginger – a difficult match but the chef’s wild salmon dish, with hints of curry and wasabi, worked beautifully.

The third champagne, La Femme de Champagne 2000 Grand Cru, was the favourite amongst the wine writers around the table. The powerful vintage, only produced in certain years and from selected Grand Cru plots, had great structure and finished to a soft mousse on the palate. Cornish crab highlighted with mint jelly, Granny Smith apple and curry made another challenging match but one that La Femme easily overcame with finesse.

The only blanc de blancs we had, the Clos des Bouveries 2005 cuvée oenoclimatique, was Duval-Leroy’s special experiment. The champagne, produced solely from Chardonnay grapes harvested from a century-old Duval-Leroy owned vineyard near Vertus, is vintaged every year so the effect of the weather on each vintage is fully explored and exposed.

The dish matched was an equally experimental looking chicken with truffle, chestnut and squash. Champagne with meat is perhaps the most difficult match and in this case there was a little too much experimentation on the palate.

The final champagne was the champagne for food lovers, and in particular, desserts – the aforementioned Lady Rose NV. Duval-Leroy still celebrate this champagne with their annual Dessert of the Year competition. At 25g/l dosage, the champagne falls firmly into the super sweet sec category.

Originally produced as a half bottle, it has proved so popular in Asia, matching well with Asian cuisine, that a full sized bottle is now produced too. With berries on the nose and slight acidity on the palate, the Lady Rose NV married well with the raspberry, lychee and rose dessert.

Raspberry, lychee, rose, Champagne Duval-Leroy lunch at The Greenhouse, Mayfair

It seems that there’s certainly room for champagne with every course, though matching is not always so simple. Duval-Leroys champagnes did well with the fish and of course dessert but further explorations are certainly needed for meats. And that’s not something to complain about!

It was also interesting to learn about the champagne house’s dedication to the sustainable development of their vineyards and winemaking. This includes continued commitment to reducing water usage, use of solar panels to reduce their carbon footprint and a move towards organic vinification with some of their cuvées.

Now that is something worth raising a glass of champagne to.

Laurent-Perrier Tous Les Sens: A Preview

Published on BespokeRSVP on 25th May 2012:

Laurent Perrier Tous Les Sense at Massimo, The Corinthia, London

Flowers aren’t my thing. It’s all that pollen irritating my hayfever. And all that floral femininity making me feel like I have to be all girly. But flowers on a plate, it just makes me all weak at the knees with glee.

At the Laurent-Perrier Tous Les Sens Masterclass at Taste of London this year, it is all about the flowers. Not just to look at or to smell but also to eat. International florist Ercole Moroni leads the class and guides you through a specially created tasting menu of floral delights. As well as exploring the menu and learning about the different flowers on the plate and on the table, you also get to sample a small flight of Champagnes from Laurent-Perrier.

If the preview at Massimo, The Corinthia, is anything to go by, you will surely be in for a treat. We had dishes inspired by apple blossom, green shiso, wild garlic, courgette flower, jasmine blossom, and elderflower, just to name a few; and by inspired I mean it was on the plate. While we sipped the champagne and tried the food, Moroni talked about why each champagne was chosen to match the menu and how they relate to the flowers. By the end of the meal, even I was warming a little to the bouquet.

Laurent Perrier Tous Les Sense at Massimo, The Corinthia, London

The Tous Les Sens Masterclass menu at Taste of London is slightly different though and has been put together especially for the event by specialist caterers, Urban Caprice. Canapé portions of starter, main and dessert will be paired with Ultra Brut, Grand Siècle and Curvée Rosé respectively, from Champagne Laurent-Perrier.

The starter will be Mottra Osetra caviar, apparently the world’s only truly sustainable caviar, on white toast. The caviar is sustainable and ethical because the sturgeons are massaged to release the roe rather than cut open while still alive. The main course is a Champagne infused risotto with asparagus. And finally the dessert is a white chocolate and strawberry sphere with strawberry mousse, macerated strawberries, rose jelly and crystalised rose petals.

Ultra-glam Searcy’s launch at One New Change

Published on Foodepedia on 4th April 2011:

It was 5pm on a Tuesday and the perfect time for some champagne. Well champagne and canapés at the glamorous new Searcy’s Champagne Bar launch, that is. And that’s exactly where I was on the 29th of March.

City workers will probably have noticed a new shopping venue slowly emerging out of the rubble, after months of building works, at One New Change. The new Searcy’s Champagne Bar is right at the heart of it on the first floor, and it is ultra-glam. The decor channels 70s chic with floor to ceiling glass, plush armchairs and a granite bar all designed by Interbar.

Of course the venue is nothing without the champagne and connoisseurs will not be disappointed.

There’s a very extensive selection of vintage and non-vintages, with offerings from some 25 different champagne houses. And with single flutes starting from £8.50 to vintages costing £600 a bottle, there’s definitely something for all budgets.

Aside from having the most extensive champagne list in Europe, it is also the first bar in the UK to decant champagne. That’s right – they will decant a bottle of champagne, of your choice and at your table, into a crystal champagne decanter from Riedel for you to savour. Supposedly this helps to bring out the more complex characteristics of champagne, just as it does fine wine.

The bar also serves a selection of cold dishes, chosen specifically to match the champagnes available. And if the foie gras macaroons and beetroot with orange and ginger canapés I tried is anything to go by, your taste buds will certainly be tantalised.

I’m told the venue is open from 7am to 11pm which means that it’s probably perfect for every kind of occasion – from champagne breakfast meetings to a quick after work drink or perhaps just a break from shopping.

Searcy’s Champagne Bar at One New Change is open now and can be found at 1st Floor, One New Change, London EC4M 9AF