Still on the SEVA trip to Champagne……. Back at the hotel this evening we were treated to a Champagne tasting hosted by Steve Charters MW who works as an academic in Reims, which is pretty cool given that he’s English. As well as being an MW he is an expert in marketing and consumer behaviour.
The tasting contained some good Champagnes and some interesting ones. We opened with a zero dosage, 100% pinot meunier, which was characteristic and quite fruity, and very good but not my favourite. Better, to me, was the Paque et Fils which was slightly oaked: the oak being very well integrated to give a fine round body but with great complexity of taste and a long finish.
We had a good conversation about the merits of lees ageing v bottle (cork) ageing. A common view is that it’s the lees ageing which matters for Champagne, with this giving it the rich toasty autolytic flavours and rich integration. Consistently, though, for the past few days we’re been shown wines with significant periods of cork ageing and it’s certainly made me wonder whether a good length of time both pre and post disgorging is important for a fine sparkling wine.
We challenged Steve for his views on English sparkling wine. He put forward some passionate views convincingly, urging English growers to pull together with one voice and to rally round a quality charter. The room was in broad agreement with his comments, only broken when we pushed him as to what name English sparkling wine might succeed with. Steve pulled the straightest face he could before announcing that he’d be asking for royalties when we were all using his inspired idea. “Spurgle,” he announced. There was universal loud laughter, including Steve himself. The point, of course, is that it’s a tricky subject.