Pop the Cork


If there is ever a time of year to celebrate in grand style, New Year’s Eve is it. Through history, the thing that has separated a celebration from just a regular party has always been champagne.

Lee Royle of Jacques Scott is someone who can regale you with stories about the rich history of champagne and the various champagne houses.

However, he says one of the biggest misconceptions he still encounters is the habit of people to say ‘champagne’ when they really mean ‘sparkling wine’. The moniker champagne can only be applied to sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France, with the producers adhering to very strict rules with regards to ingredients and method.

Of course, this means that champagne does come at a price premium when compared to sparkling wine. And with the usual moans and groans about the economy, price is something on everyone’s mind. Yet Lee has a quite straight forward approach to the matter.

“If there is one time of year to celebrate, this is it, and if you want to do it right, you need a good bottle of champagne.”

Jacques Scott stocks a wide selection of champagnes from some of the most storied champagne houses, including the likes of Billecart-Salmon, Perrier Jouet, Louis Roederer, and Pol Roger.

The house champagnes of the main champagne houses are non vintage, which means that much of the base wine used to make the champagne carries over from year to year. This ensures a consistent taste from one year to the next.

However, when there is a really good harvest, a vintage is declared, and vintage champagne is produced. As this is not an annual occurrence, the vintage champagnes tend to be a step above the house champagne. Right at the top of the range you will find the special cuvee, which is the best the champagne house can produce.

Pol Roger, the favourite champagne of Sir Winston Churchill, produces the Champagne Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill, Louis Roederer produces the legendary Cristal, originally produced for a Russian Czar, while Perrier Jouet produces the rather spectacular Belle Epoque.

Of course, the mere fact that a sparkling wine is not a true champagne does not mean it is not worth a try. According to Lee, there are some truly excellent sparkling wines from various wine growing regions. Roederer, the makers of Cristal, has a winery in California that produces an excellent sparkling wine drawing on the rich history of one of the most famed champagne houses in the world. There are also great sparkling wines from Italy, Spain and Chile.

A unique sparkling wine from Chilean producer Valdivieso, NVY (just say ‘envy) is made with fruit pulp, with varieties including berries and passion fruit. For anyone who does not fancy champagne but would still like something sparkling to toast the New Year, this may well be an option worth exploring.

A case discount of 15 per cent applies, even to mixed cases, so it is the perfect opportunity for a couple of friends to get together, pick a couple of different champagnes to try, and start a journey that is well worth while. And with champagne coming in cases of six, it won’t be difficult finding enough to celebrate to make your way through a case easily.

According to Lee though, there is only one simple rule when it comes to champagne – if it is worth celebrating, it is worth celebrating with champagne. WH

For more information, visit any Jacques Scott store.


Stephen Clarke