Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Debate a Bubble - My Favourite Champagne of 2010

Debate a Bubble - My Favourite Champagne of 2010

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

My Favourite Champagne of 2010

Posted: 07 Dec 2010 02:32 AM PST

DSC02846 What's the best champagne you've tasted this year?

Have you tasted anything really exceptional this year?

For me the answer to the question is easy because of all the wonderful champagnes I've tasted in 2010 there's one that really stands out and if you love your champagne then you just have to try this for yourself.

  • If you only buy one bottle of champagne this Christmas do yourself a favour and make sure it's this one.
  • If you are giving champagne as a gift to someone very special, give them a rare treat by offering a bottle of this one. 

What is it?

It's called Penet-Chardonnet and No I won't be surprised if you've never heard of it. I'm sure you will in a year or two

Who says it's so special?

Don't just take my word for it.

I know 4 Masters of Wine who are real fans of Penet-Chardonnet.

This is what one of them – a man in England with over 40 years experience in the wine trade - said

"Well, what a surprise, probably one of the most fascinating Champagne experiences I have had...

What I loved about them is the passion for traditional methods the use of reserve wines, and exclusively sans dosage. The Grand Cru Reserve gives an indication of what some extra age can do, but my god these are long living wines, what are they like after 20 years plus?"

What makes them so special?

Well, unlike most champagnes on the market Penet-Chardonnet uses what's called 'Low-Dosage'. That means that very little sugar has been added so you really get the full flavour of the fruit. ( often Zero Dosage i.e no added sugar at all)

The more technical amongst you may be intrigued by the fact that Penet-Chardonnet NEVER uses malolactic fermentation and as far as I and everyone I know can tell, Penet-Chardonnet is the ONLY champagne maker who neither adds sugar nor uses malolactic fermentation

In some other champagnes this combination could mean a harsh, acidic taste but Penet-Chardonnet is aged for FAR longer than most other champagnes to allow the champagne to develop full round flavours that are really luscious on your tongue

It's incredible how they achieve this fantastic balance, but they do.

Penet-Chardonnet is truly unique in a sea of champagnes that are sometimes hard to tell apart

Where to find it?

At present there's only one importer in the U.K. but don't worry just below you'll find the link to go straight there

If you're in the States there are importers in California, Chicago and a couple of other states . Please contact me to find out more. Perhaps you're interested in becoming an importer/distributor yourself?

There are also importers in Norway, Italy, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Hong Kong and Singapore, so again please contact me by e-mail to find out more


Which one to choose?

There are several great champagnes in the Penet-Chardonnet range.

You can start with Sélection for only £29.99 and this will give you a feel for the amazing Penet-Chardonnet style.

If you want to really treat someone ( yourself for example) then go for either the Grande Réserve at £79.99* or the top of the range Diane Claire at £109.99*. Diane Spe blanc

Both of these exceptional champagnes are only made in very limited quantities – just a few thousand bottles every year - and each bottle has an individual number on it as well as the date of disgorging. Enjoy these this Christmas, or keep them for several years to come

My own favourite?

Penet-Chardonnet Réserve Grand Cru at £39.99*

I really believe that this champagne is tremendous value. It's the same price as some of the famous brands yet it's worth far more than this, but because Penet-Chardonnet is not yet well-known you can be one of the first few to discover this great champagne at a very reasonable price.

* prices shown do not include delivery charges.


How can I order?

If you're in the U.K. then there's nothing easier. Just follow this link


For other countries please e-mail me


I'm sure you'll be just as impressed as I am



The Price of Champagne - We've Had The Downs, Now For The Ups

Posted: 06 Dec 2010 12:23 PM PST

Right now, when there are so many special 'deals' around on champagne,it may seem to be an odd time to talk about putting the price up, but that's exactly what's going on in Champagne and here's why.....

Bottles ageing The thing about champagne that sets is apart from most other wines is that the champagne makers age the champagne in their cellars, at their cost, for around 3 years before they sell it.

This means that they have to decide, years in advance, how many bottles to put into the cellars to age and so what they like best of all is a pattern of sales that matches their expectations.

Any sudden increase in demand and they can't cope with it because the champagne hasn't finished ageing (some makers may be tempted to sell the champagne before it's really ready just to make the sales, but that's not a wise decision, other than in the very short term, because the consumer will sooner or later notice that the quality's not as good as it used to be).

Any sudden drop in sales - like we saw about 18 months ago - and the makers find themselves with mountains ( or maybe lakes?) of stock in the cellars that they can't sell. What do they do in that situation? Well some of them sell off the stock at bargain prices just to get the cash in and to reduce the stock and that's one of the major reasons that we have seen some great 'deals' on champagne over the past year

At the moment we're just coming out of a period when sales were well down versus the plan and now, little by little, the champagne makers are starting to claw back the ground they lost over the last few months.

Nothing dramatic mind you - that's simply not on as it would jeopardise the fragile recovery in champagne consumption - but the bargain basement prices you could find a year ago are more and more scarce.

That's why you should expect to see fewer special offers in the supermarkets in 2011 (unless of course the supermarkets sell at cost, or at a loss, just to tempt people into the shop).

Nothing illustrates better the growing confidence amongst the champagne makers that they can look forward to higher prices than the case of Montaudon.

A couple of years ago this small brand was bought by the giant Moët & Chandon, mainly to get their hands on the essential grape supply contracts that came as part of the purchase.

Just a few days ago Moët announced the sale of the brand ( minus the grape supply contracts) to Champagne Jacquart.

Jacquart is a cooperative which means that they have hundreds of members amongst the smaller grape growers so they have no worries about grape supplies. On the other hand what they lack are strong brands, so they plan to build Montaudon into a brand to be reckoned with.

Montaudon Currently Montaudon sells in France for around 20 -22 euros. Not the lowest, but not very expensive either. Jacquart's ambition is to get this brand up to a price of around 35 euros

How can they do this ?

1) Just jack the price up. Not a great strategy unless there's some extra value too.

2) Invest in lots of marketing to pursuade the consumer that the quality is great.

It can be done and many brands have done this but, like 1) it's risky

3) Improve the quality of the champagne with better grapes, better blending and longer ageing and sell it in new markets

In fact all the important stuff that you can learn about in The Insider's Guide To Champagne

This is what we should expect from Montaudon, so keep your eyes open for this (perhaps) up-and-coming brand in your country. It might just be a real discovery in a few years time


Win A Case Of Champagne

Posted: 06 Dec 2010 12:28 PM PST

Here's a great way to have a lot of fun and win a case of champagne too!

We've just launched a terrific new competition to discover the world's Best Champagne Moment

I'm sure you'll be indulging in a bottle or two of champagne over Christmas and New Year and all you have to do to enter the competition is to send us your video, or photo, of your Best Champagne Moment.

Tell us which champagne you chose, why you chose it and then share the story of why that moment was so special for you

You'll find it all on the Mad About Bubbly Fan Page on Facebook and you can go there right now


Just 'Like' the page ( you'll see the 'Like' button at the top of the page) and then you will be able to upload your photo or video, then - very important- in the caption box share your special champagne story.

 The competition ends on January 1st and the winner will be announced a couple of days later.

So don't delay. Start opening the champagne and taking those photos right now!

Russian Businessman To Bring Cristal Back To Champagne?

Posted: 06 Dec 2010 08:19 AM PST

Around 200 years ago a few champagne houses such and Louis Roederer and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin set out on their way to fame and fortune by exporting to Russia. Veuve Clicquot sent their first rosé champagnes to Russia whilst Louis Roederer caught the eye of the Tsar who asked for a special champagne to be made just for him. He wanted it to be in a clear bottle so as to distinguish it from other, 'lesser' champagnes and that was the origin of the famous Cristal.

In the centuries since then champagne has become known and loved all around the world, but there hasn't been much movement in the opposite direction and champagne has remained pretty much a French only zone as far as foreigners actually owning champagne brands is concerned. Is that about to change? Well maybe...

According to news released by Viteff, a site dedicated to news about sparking wines, the largest champagne house of them all, Moët & Chandon, has just announced that is has sold one of its minor champagne brands called Château d'Avize plus 2.5 hectares of vineyards to none other than a Russian businessman by the name of Boris Titov.

Mr. Titov is already a big name in the Russian wine industry. He owns vineyards near the Black Sea and produces some 15 million bottles of sparkling wine, most of them by the Cuve Close method which doesn't produce the same quality as the method used in Champagne.

But Mr. Titov obviously has his sights set on the top of the market and by buying a genuine champagne house maybe he will be able one day to sell his own version of Cristal back to the French?


Friday, December 3, 2010

Debate a Bubble - Sabreing Champagne

Debate a Bubble - Sabreing Champagne

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

Sabreing Champagne

Posted: 19 Nov 2010 03:36 AM PST

Sabreing champagne, or Sabrage as it's called in French, is nothing if not spectacular.

Slashing off the entire top of the bottle with a blow from a short sword or sabre certainly gets peoples' attention at a party or champagne reception

As the sabreur holds the bottle above his head for maximum effect and minimum risk of flying glass and wields his sabre there's often as gush of champagne jetting out from the severed neck of the bottle in a bubbly plume of champagne.

As you can imagine it's a trick best left to those who know what they're doing and not to be attempted at home. Besides it's not as easy as it used to be. Let me explain...

Sabrage supposedly caught on amongst the hussars in Napoleon's army back in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Napoleon and his army frequently stopped in Champagne on the way to one battle or another and it's not hard to imagine them stocking up on champagne and opening a few bottles there and then with a sabre to impress any young lady who caught their eye or just for the hell of it.

The trick with sabrage is to slide the sabre smartly down the slide of the bottle so as to seperate the top of the bottle from the rest of the neck just at the point where there is a ridge around the neck. Look at this picture and you'll see what I mean


The more pronounced the ridge, the less likely the sabre is to slip over the ridge and the more likely you are to get a good clean break. If you look at the bottle on the left you'll clearly see that the ridge is much more pronounced than on the right-hand bottle so the left-hand one would be easier to sabre.

A smart sabreur would always look for a bottle with a good solid ridge, but there's the problem because they just don't make them like that any more.

Moët 1953 The bottle on the left is a bottle of Moët & Chandon Vintage 1953 (lucky me) whilst the right-hand bottle is a bottle of Henriet-Bazin Vintage 2002. In 50 years champagne bottles have not only got lighter but the design has changed too.

So if you fancy trying your hand at Sabrage it will be easier with an older bottle, but if you're lucky enough to own a rare old vintage champagne, would you really want to risk opening it with a sabre?

Not me 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Debate a Bubble - Top Tips For Your Perfect Champagne Party 4

Debate a Bubble - Top Tips For Your Perfect Champagne Party 4

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

Top Tips For Your Perfect Champagne Party 4

Posted: 19 Nov 2010 03:29 AM PST

How do I choose which champagne to serve?

A very important question ….

Here's a simple but reliable tip that will work for any wines including champagne and for any occasion: a meal or a party 

  • Start with white and move to red 
  • Start with dry and move to sweet 
  • Start with young and move to old

Let's look at some examples using champagne

To start the fun

Le Gras Blanc de Blancs champagne is made only with Chardonnay grapes, so it's crisp, dry and clean; fresh and citrussy, although a good one will still be smooth and soft in the mouth.

 The secret is that a couple of glasses of Blanc de Blancs will wake up your taste buds ready for the food to follow, so it's great at the start of the party and/or as an aperitif before dinner

 You'll find the words blanc de blancs on the label by the way, so this type of champagne is easy to find


As the party progresses your palate will change too and a really dry wine or champagne can soon start to seem a little harsh.

 Now's the time to serve a classic non-vintage champagne that contains both white grapes (Chardonnay) and black grapes (Pinot Noir and / or Pinot Meunier)

The black grapes lend more fruitiness and fullness to the champagne, leaving a deliciously full and satisfying flavour in your mouth.

 If you're hosting a dinner party, then this style of champagne will be great with the first course. Most champagnes on the market fit into this categor and if you're in doubt just ask the wine merchant.

 Later On

Towards the end of the evening when you're feeling relaxed and mellow is the perfect moment for a richer, more full-flavoured champagne to match your mood.

 At your dinner party you'll find that vintage champagne is ideal with main courses such as turkey, game and lots more besides - perfect for Christmas!

 To Finish Off

At the end of the evening, or to serve with a sweet dessert, there's one more option to consider and that's Demi-sec champagne.

 If you've never tried demi-sec and think that it's far too sweet for you, think again.Lanson Carte Ivoire

 With the sweetness of the dessert a demi-sec champagne is just perfect and doesn't seem sweet at all. Plus if you've finished eating you'll find that demi-sec is far softer on your palate than brut champagne if you want to go on partying into the wee small hours – besides, it's different and makes your party that extra bit special

To find out more about how to throw stylish and elegant champagne parties, check out  "The Insider's Guide to Champagne" an e-book that lets you into the real secrets of champagne for just £19.97

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Debate a Bubble - Discover The Real Price of Champagne

Debate a Bubble - Discover The Real Price of Champagne

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

Discover The Real Price of Champagne

Posted: 27 Nov 2010 11:29 AM PST

Have you ever wondered why there is such a difference in price between the most expensive champagnes like Cristal and Dom Pérignon and the other champagnes that you can pick up for a tenth of the cost?

If you had the opportunity to taste and compare the expensive ones with the others, are you confident that you could tell the difference anyway?

When you read reviews by wine writers do you wonder what the difference really is between a champagne that is rated at 95 points and one that is rated at 85? Can you taste the difference?

Well they are all great questions and you're not the only person that asking them.

That's why I've devoted a whole chapter of my e-book The Insider's Guide to Champagne to this very topic and I'm excited to tell you that the e-book is now available as a paperback that you can carry around with you.

Yep, I got it published today - now that's worth a glass or two of champagne to celebrate don't you think?

Some more good news is that for a limited period I have reduced the price to only £9.97 in the U.K. and Europe and only $14.99 in the USA ( plus applicable postage and packing in both cases)

To grab a copy just follow these links



If you're dying to discover just how much a bottle of champagne really costs ( and you'll be amazed ) you won't be disappointed and you'll find there's so much more to learn too.

Here's what people have been saying about The Insider's Guide To Champagne


"I learned more about champagne from your book, The Insider's Guide To Champagne, than any other book, tasting or chateau visit I have had the pleasure of attending"

"Your book is MUST for anyone who wants to know about champagne"

"Your book is refreshingly informative and .. I would recommend it above Tom Stevenson"

"Your book is so informative and brilliantly written giving all the information in an exceptionally readable style which is so rare these days"

 So if you're a champagne lover then treat your self to a copy for Christmas and take advantage of the special price now. Get a copy for your champagne loving friends too.

Here are those links once again