Pete Ste­wart rec­om­mends

Sunday Herald Life - - DRINK - Pete Ste­wart is Glas­gow di­rec­tor of In­ver­ar­ity One to One, 185a Bath Street, Glas­gow (0141 221 5121) www.in­ver­ar­ity121.com

WITH oys­ters on the menu and with the Chicago Bears tak­ing on the Fal­cons in their sea­son opener, our thoughts turn nat­u­rally to Cham­pagne. Too of­ten, we only con­sider Cham­pagne for a cel­e­bra­tion when in fact it can be a lovely treat on a Sun­day.

Cham­pagne is a sparkling wine from the area of the same name around Reims in France. It has to be bot­tle­fer­mented, which means that the fizz is cre­ated in the bot­tle that you take home and en­joy. It is usu­ally a com­bi­na­tion of three grapes, Chardon­nay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Me­u­nier. The two Pinots are red grapes, but they’re not in­cluded to add colour to the wine, rather struc­ture and fruiti­ness. All of the colour is in the skins, which are wheeched (tech­ni­cal term) away be­fore the juice has been af­fected.

Some pro­duc­ers pre­fer a lighter, more el­e­gant style so they fo­cus on the Chardon­nay grape. If the wine is made en­tirely of Chardon­nay, you’ll see Blanc de Blancs on the la­bel. Other terms you’ll find on the la­bel in­clude Brut (dry), Demi-Sec (off dry, or medium) and Non-Vin­tage (NV) which means that the juice has come from a num­ber of har­vests over the course of three or four years. This al­lows the wine­maker to pro­duce a con­sis­tent style from re­lease to re­lease, there­fore if you liked Veuve Clic­quot the last time you tried it, the next bot­tle you buy should taste the same.

Other house­hold names in the Cham­pagne world are Lau­rent-Per­rier, Bollinger and Lan­son. They each make their own par­tic­u­lar style.

Lau­rent-Per­rier La Cu­vee Brut NV (Ma­jes­tic, £35.99). My go-to fizz: it’s soft and ap­proach­able as well as be­ing very food-friendly. The DemiSec is also worth seek­ing out as it’s a crowd-pleaser and the per­fect aper­i­tif.

Bollinger Spe­cial Cu­vee Brut NV (Ma­jes­tic, £39.49). This is a bigger, richer style of fizz so you can match it to bigger, richer dishes. Favoured by se­cret agents ev­ery­where.

Lan­son Black La­bel Brut NV (Ma­jes­tic, £25.99). Lan­son’s point of dif­fer­ence is that they in­hibit mal­o­lac­tic fer­men­ta­tion in the win­ery. This is a nat­u­ral process that soft­ens wine by chang­ing the acid­ity from malic acid (like in ap­ples) to lac­tic acid (like in milk). Most Cham­pagne houses al­low it to hap­pen, but Lan­son pre­fer to (in their words) pre­serve the in­tegrity of the fruit. This means that a glass of Lan­son will al­ways have a more pro­nounced acid­ity than any of the other brands. Don’t let that put you off though, it’s still a lovely Cham­pagne. And, as Mon­sieur Lan­son says: “I only make wine for my­self, what I can’t drink … I sell.”

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