Whilst many of us may joke that Grandma’s cream sherry, a relic from decades past, is the drink we most associate with Christmas, the truth is that nothing makes the festive period seem even more bubbly then a glass of our favourite fizz, Champagne.
After all, Brut Champagne is the perfect match to a plate of freshly shucked oysters, the classic entrée to Christmas dinner here in France. And, if your plans this Christmas and New Year involve a Caribbean yacht charter, we can’t imagine anything more fitting than a glass of fine bubbles sipped with turquoise waters of the Caribbean sea as a backdrop to get you into the celebratory mood.
This Christmas, why not treat yourself to some of the lesser known names from this famous wine appellation just east of Paris. You’ll be in for some wonderful discoveries.
Here are five of our favourites:
In a world of global corporations paying big bucks to add Champagne houses to their big-brand portfolios, it’s refreshing to learn that Billecart-Salmon, from Mareuil-sur-Ay, remains the oldest continuously family-owned Champagne house. Their Brut Rosé NV in particular is a real stunner, with lots of raspberry deliciousness dancing away on the palate. If you’re usually quite partial to a glass of Laurent Perrier Brut Rosé NV, we’d recommend you give this a try – both your taste buds and wallet will be thanking you!
Founded in Ay in 1584, Gosset is the oldest house in Champagne, dating from before a time when such a thing as ‘Champagne’ even existed! Today, this prestigious producer boasts an extensive array of vintage and non-vintage Champagnes and are perhaps most famous for their Brut Excellence, a classic Champagne blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.
From the famed village of Epernay, Perrier Jouët is renowned for the presentation of their delicate wines, perhaps the most beautiful in the whole of the appellation. Their vintage Champagne, Cuvée Belle Epoque, comes in a bottle decorated in a striking floral design, reminiscent of a classic art-deco stained glass feature.
Another of Epernay’s renowned Champagne houses, the eponymous founder was born in 1831. The fizz that still bears his name today holds a Royal Warrant as suppliers to the Queen and was served at the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. If that’s not enough of a British link, the house’s top cuvée is called Sir Winston Churchill, and bears many characteristics of the man himself: robust, full-bodied and mature.
Founded by Eugène Aimé Salon, Champagne Salon from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger has a rather mythical reputation in the wine world, thanks to a small production, made in only exceptional vintages of their Blanc de Blancs Champagne (meaning it is made from 100% Chardonnay). There were only 37 vintages released in the 20th century, the first in 1905! A rare wine, with a price tag to match, this is a fine and complex Champagne, best opened on special occasions, such as Christmas and New Year.
The monthly wine blog for Bespoke Yacht Charter is written by Chrissie McClatchie, an Australian freelance wine professional and writer who has been selling fine wine to superyachts since her arrival in Nice in 2007. Today she also teaches WSET wine courses and conducts guided visits through Nice’s AOC Bellet.