Tag Archives: champagne


    Inspired by the Bath Boules, Angela Mount recommends celebratory wines which are best enjoyed outdoors in the sunshine


    There’s something special about June in Bath, as we kick into Summer, with a more laid-back, languid vibe, “alfresco” being the mot du jour. There’s also lots going on, not least the legendary Bath Boules weekend (9th-11th June), held in the historic Queen Square, with a fiercely contested competition between over 60 teams – if you want to see accountants, solicitors, wine merchants et al at their most competitive, get down there!  But it’s also a great big party, with street food, pop ups, music – all in all, a fabulous family day out.

    If you fancy a more sedate afternoon, head for one of Bath’s numerous Alfresco slots (weather permitting) to enjoy the sunshine and an indulgent afternoon tea; and, of course, a glass of wine. But what vinous delights work for daytime sipping?

    Champagne is ‘le best’. Jacquart Champagne, have been proud sponsors of Bath Boules, alongside Great Western Wine for a number of years, so pop along and try a chilled glass of their Jacquart Brut Mosaique NV (£32.50), with its creamy, delicate, fresh flavours.  But if you’re indulging in afternoon tea, I’d suggest you opt for Jacquart Demi-Sec NV (£35). Don’t be put off because it’s off dry – this is actually a far better match with the sweet richness of scones, jam and cake, than a traditional brut Champagne – trust me! It’s all about the balance. With its moreish, creamy richness and ripe peach and apricot flavours, it’s also the perfect fizz for light Summer desserts, as well as scones, cream and strawberries..

    If you’re looking for fizz for an afternoon party, but don’t want to break the bank, look no further than Domaine de Brize Saumur Rose Brut NV (£14.50), an award-winning fizz from the Loire valley, and the epitome of Summer with its dry but exuberant strawberry and raspberry flavours. Fabulous value. Red Summer fizz? Why not? I like to surprise my guests with a glass of the highly moreish Birbet Brachetto 2015 (£11.95), serve it chilled, with a bowl of strawberries – it’s truly summer pudding in a glass, gently sweet, but light, with delicious freshness; even better, it’s only 5% alcohol, so the perfect, if eclectic, afternoon wine. A glass of this, with a bowl of scented local strawberries gets my vote.

    Back to Les Boules, and since the event celebrates le most traditional of French sports, it would be impertinent not to suggest a few summery delights from La belle France.  In sleepy southern village squares, dappled with golden sunlight, the locals can be seen with glasses of Pastis, but I’d suggest a glass of something lighter, especially for the competitors intent on victory, to keep their focus sharp.

    Just as we change wardrobes and adapt to le fashion du moment, our drinking styles change for the Summer also. What I look for in a glass of wine at this time of year is freshness, liveliness and clean, crisp fruit, be it white or red – and yes, I often chill my red wines, it’s brings out the fruit and stops them tasting heavy.  Rosè is a Summer classic, but more of that next month.

    For a vibrant, zingy white, which just begs for a plate of seafood, look no further than Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine de Belle Mare 2016 (£9.95) - Picpoul is on trend right now and provides a refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous Sauvignon blanc or Pinot Grigio.  From vineyards close to the Languedoc coast, it’s crisp and zingy, with a lovely lemony freshness, but also a hint of wild herbs; you can almost smell the sea.

    Want to impress your friends, and look knowledgeable with a little known and great value Summer red?  Look no further than Braucol Vigne Lourac, Cotes de Tarn 2014 (£8.95), my go to picnic and bbq red. Braucol is the grape (not many people know that), and is hails from the south-west of France. Juicy, fruity, and on the lighter spectrum of reds, it’s a bouncy delight, crammed to the brim with sweet raspberry and cherry fruit, with a brush of wild herbs.  I love to serve it chilled, it brings out the fruit and the brightness; perfect with charcuterie for alfresco lunches, and also spot on with baby lamb chops and spicy sausages.

    Zut alors. Time to go. Take the family  to Les Boules and support this event fantastique for local charities. It’s a great day out.  I’ll be back next month with my top tips for best Summer Rosè wines. Bonne chance to all the teams.

    By Angela Mount - Bath Life

  • Festive Fizz

    The countdown is on, and corks are popping all over the country, as the festive season peaks. But with millions of shiny bottles of Champagne and sparkling wines stacked high in wine shops and supermarkets, and a vast selection on offer, the questions are, what to buy, and what to drink when?

    Champagne Taittinger, Brut RéserveBest for gifts……the Great Western Wine Champagne and sparkling wine range covers just about every gift occasion and budget, however, for a loved one, especially close family,  a beautifully packaged gift box of Taittinger Champagne will always deliver.  Choose either the traditional Taittinger Champagne Brut Reserve NV, in its shiny, white and metallic box -  an ethereal, elegant Champagne, subtle and charming , with Chardonnay dominating the blend. Crisp and stylish. If the budget will allow, go for even more impact with a magnum of the same.

    Best for Bling… There’s only one bottle for this – the red carpet, disco ball glitz that is Taittinger Champagne Nocturne NV  - you can’t miss this  delightful diva,  glittering in her sparkly purple dress, and nestled in a similarly ‘bling’ shimmering box.  Nocturne is a Champagne, which is just slightly off dry – not sweet, but not quite as dry as the Brut Reserve; it’s a fabulous Champagne to go with food, and I love to serve it with spicy style canapés.

    Champagne J-M Gobillard, Brut Grande Réserve Premier CruBest for Christmas Day….. Champagne has to be on the list for the main event; it’s the day the family comes together to celebrate and indulge. The average family spends a small fortune both on presents, but also on ensuring there is a feast on the table – so Champagne should be the order of the day, but you don’t have to fork out on many of the big brands, when there are delicious, lesser-known, and far more exciting gems to be found ; I’ve written about this before – Gobillard Champagne Premier Cru Grande Reserve NV is outstanding; rich, creamy, with hints of toast and roasted hazelnuts, and bold red fruit. It’s made by a small family grower, rather than one of the big Champagne houses, and at the moment is simply unbelievable value with £10 off at £19.50.

    Here’s my tip – Champagne always benefits from a little more ageing, it add complexity and richness. Based on this phenomenal deal, for this award winner, buy 2 cases – drink one this Christmas and stash the other one away until next Christamas; then drink the one you’re going to buy this weekend at Christmas 2016, and buy your Christmas 2017 case of Champagne at Christmas 2016 – confused? Don’t be . just keep a case in stock with a year to age for each festive season. Trust me . It works.

    Best for impressing guests…. Let’s face it, however relaxed, we like to appear when entertaining, we secretly always like to impress friends and neighbours, be it with home made canapés, perfectly styled and themed decorations,  or bespoke cocktails. So add to the wow factor, by serving your fizz in magnums this year ( one big, heavy bottle that holds the content of 2 normal bottles). It looks impressive, stylish, and certainly makes a statement.  If you want Champagne, then the glorious Gobillard Premier Cru Grande Reserve NV, also comes in a handy sized magnum! … and by the way Champagne ages more slowly in magnums, due to the ‘wine to bottle’ ratio, so that’s even more of a reason to hide a couple of cases away for the next year or two.

    Ruggeri, Prosecco Brut Quartese DOCG MagnumIf you want a better value alternative for fizz, but still want the ‘wow’ effect, why not try a top notch Prosecco Ruggeri Brut Quartese NV DOCG (1.5lt)? it’s bright, perky, with real personality, and style, coming from one of the top producers, and the best vineyard sites in the Prosecco region. Creamy, and floral, it has great character, is a big step up from standard Prosecco, with its lovely orchard fruit flavours, but won’t break the bank.

    Best for parties…. Keep ahead of the pack by setting a new trend; Prosecco is so ‘last season’ darling, instead impress your guests with your cutting edge choices and  show off your style and knowledge by serving Cleto Chiarli Pignoletto Brut NV, a delightfully fresh, and similarly  crisp, frothy fizz, from north eastern Italy, close to Parma and Modena.  In an imposing bottle, it’s not dissimilar to Prosecco, but made from the Pignoletto grape, and is a tad livelier and richer, with bright russet apple fruit, elderflower and peaches – you’ll get top marks for innovation.

    Best for Bucks Fizz and Bellinis…. One of my rules is never to waste Champagne or top quality Sparkling wine on Bucks fizz or cocktails – what’s the point of serving a beautiful bottle of fizz, if the flavour is changed totally by the addition of orange juice or peach nectar.  This is where you can cut a few corners and save a few pennies – don’t buy any nasty or green, but opt for simple, approachable, and great value styles of fizz, such as the lively, fruity Stelle d’Italia Prosecco.

    Peller Ice Cuvée Sparkling (Vidal Dosage)Best for mince pies….. the sweet, scented intensity of mince pies doesn’t work with very  dry wines, so indulge in a bottle of the gloriously fragranced and sumptuously rich Peller Ice Cuvee Sparkling NV ( Vidal Dosage), a delectable delight of a wine, full of golden promise – lively, fruity, and top class, with hints of apricots and ripe peaches, and a seamless silkiness, which comes from the addition of a small amount of the liquid nectar called ice wine, made in tiny quantities from the droplets of juice from grapes frozen on the vine in Canada. Also perfect with rich pates, and smoked hams, and spicy canapés.

    Best for Christmas pudding… after all the richness of the Christmas feast, I often crave a glass of something light, refreshing, and palate cleansing when the Christmas pudding arrives; a great favourite is Fontanafredda Moscato d’Asti Moncucco, served in a handy 50cl bottle, and with a refreshingly low 5.5% alcohol, which is sometimes what is needed at the end of Christmas lunch. It perks up the taste buds with its joyous, grapey freshness and lively, sherbet mousse. Bright, gently sweet, with  aromas of wild flowers, jasmine and freshy crushed grapes, it has a delightful freshness and citrusy lift, which provides a welcome lift and cuts through all the richness of the food.

    Best for Christmas Eve…. This is the time when neighbours and friends often pop round for a lunchtime drink, then family congregate in the early hours of the evening. I have 2 strategies for party fizz here…. Serve either  a top quality Prosecco, such as the Prosecco Ruggeri Brut Quartese NV, or make a statement with an equally good, but different fizz from Spain – Torello Cava Brut  Reserva NV Special Edition, is bold, bright, and full of lively, apple and pear fruit, with a creamy edge and a citrus twist. The bottle alone is a talking point, with its black and white, funky packaging.

    Ferrari Maximum BrutLater in the evening, with close family around you, bring out a true international award-winner, Ferrari Brut Maximum NV,       Ferrari ( nothing to do with the car, but on a similar level in terms of style, recently won ‘sparkling producer of the year’, in the 2015 Champagne and sparkling wine World Championships. Made in the traditional method from the Chardonnay grape, it’s the epitome of elegance, with rich, ripe, brioche, roasted hazelnut- infused aromas and flavours – warming, moreish, stylish and far better value than many cheap Champagnes.

    Best for Boxing Day buffet parties….. this is the day, when the festivities continue, often with wider family and friends joining in; but everyone’s still feeling replete from the Christmas Day food marathon. This is the time for the freshest, crispest, liveliest of dry sparklers, so try Chateau Rives-Blanches Blanquette de Limoux 2012, a great, and chat-worthy alternative to many other fizzes, and about as zesty and bright as they go. It’s made in the high hills of Limoux in southern France from the little known, and local, Mauzac grape. Fresh as a daisy, uplifting, zesty and perky, it’s a perfect Boxing Day fizz with crunchy apple, zingy lemon and tangy grapefruit character. Guaranteed to lift jaded palates.

    Ridgeview, Grosvenor Cuvée Merret (Blanc de Blancs)Best for a romantic Christmas proposal…..  It just has to be Rose! Do this in style with either Taittinger Brut Rose NV, full of gloriously elegant raspberry and strawberry cream flavours, enchanting in colour, delicacy and style; or impress with a point of difference – Gobillard Champagne Brut Rose NV is a a pretty, peach-hued and strawberry scented rose, with delicate wafts of red fruit, cream, and toasted hazelnuts… how could she resist?

    Best for New Year…. If it’s a big party, opt for Prosecco, or Blanquette de Limoux; however there is a continuing trend towards houseparties and more relaxed, intimate dinners. If that’s the case, welcome the New Year in, with a bit of British heritage – Ridgeview Grosvenor Cuvee Merret 2011 (Blanc de blancs) is one of the leading, and most award-winning English Sparkling wines in the UK ( and the world). English Sparkling wines are now world class, and frequently beat Champagnes at their own game in blind tastings.  From the Chardonnay grape, its accolades say it all – rich, creamy , textured, sophisticated, with warm, buttery, baked apple fruit, layers of cream, and a deep, complex style – lingering and unforgettable – certainly a wine to remember as we move into 2016.

    By Angela Mount

  • Bubbly...with personality

    Champagne is the world’s most famous sparkling wine, with Italy’s Prosecco hot on its heels. But France isn’t just about well known designer labels, designed for the well-heeled. There are plenty of alternatives to the famous Champagne houses which won’t break the bank – many using the same methods; all with their own unique styles.

    Here are five refreshing wines that will open your mind to French fizz:

    Chateau Rives-Blanques Blanquette de LimouxChateau Rives-Blanques Blanquette de Limoux 2012

    There are those that argue that the bottle fermentation method was invented by an Englishman, Christopher Merret. But whatever you believe, one thing is for sure; the winemakers of Limoux in the Languedoc-Roussillon were making fizzy wine before their counterparts in Champagne, 560 miles to the north. Here, the local Mauzac grape is blended with the more familiar Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc to create an elegant, appley wine which has some toastiness from its time left on the lees in the bottle - a wine of freshness and character.

    Domaine Didier Champalou Vouvray BrutDomaine Didier Champalou Vouvray Brut NV

    Back up north in the Loire Valley is Vouvray, a winemaking region around 230 miles from Épernay in Champagne. This is the homeland of Chenin Blanc, made in various guises from sweet to dry sparkling. Like Limoux, the fizz is created in the bottle, just like Champagne – but the finish is softer and more appley. The Didiers are modern winemakers, respecting tradition while delivering the fresh, honest flavours of baked apple and honey with crisp, yet creamy, fine bubbles.

    Domaine de Brizé Saumur Brut RoséDomaine de Brizé Saumur Brut Rosé NV

    Domaine de Brizé also make a delicious fizz from Chenin Blanc, just down the road in Saumur.  But this one is a pink, made with Cabernet Franc and local grapes Grolleau and Beaujolais’ Gamay.  The nose is alive with redcurrants and summer fruits, leading to a vibrant palate of crunchy red apple, cranberry and blackberry. Priced like a Prosecco or Cava, this is a fun, fruity bubbly that’s ideal for spring and summer BBQs and picnics.


    Champagne Premier Cru, Blanc de Noirs, Gonet-Medeville Champagne Premier Cru, Blanc de Noirs, Gonet-Medeville NV

    If it’s got to be Champagne – and sometimes nothing else will do – then why not pick a grower-producer who creates distinctive artisan wines. Made with only red grapes, this clear, bright white sparkler is ripe and bold with rich, red fruit flavours and hints of brioche and hazelnut. The family-run business is owned by Julie Médeville, renowned winemaker at Château Gilette, a famous Sauternes property, while husband Xavier Gonet is a winemaker from an old family of Champagne vignerons from Le Mesnil sur Oger – a pretty impressive CV.

    Champagne J-M Gobillard, Brut Grande Réserve Premier CruChampagne J-M Gobillard, Brut Grande Réserve Premier Cru NV

    To quote co-owner and winemaker, Thierry Gobillard: “my house is ten metres away from Dom Pérignon’s grave” - you don’t get much more Champenois than that! A Premier Cru Grower Champagne at an unbelievable price, with a scrumptious nose of baked Bramley apples, spiced with a hint of star anise. The flavours of greengage, honey and fresh herbs are layered over a creamy palate balanced by minerality and lime citrus acidity: A GWW customer favourite that consistently out plays the big boys.

    By Chris Penwarden

  • Three must-try festive bubbles

    Fancy a change from the big brands dominating the Christmas shelves? Then try these traditionally made wines, brought to you by the little guys....

    All three of these wines are made by the Champagne method, but have an artisan touch that sets them apart from the crowd.

    Champagne J-M Gobillard, Brut Grande Réserve Premier Cru NV

    Known as a ‘Grower Champagne’, this is the work of one of the region’s first grape-growing families to blend and sell their own Champagne, rather than selling the grapes to the big boys.  85 years later, the family are still doing what they do best – crafting sparkling wines of character from their top Premier Cru vineyard plots. The wine has a scrumptious nose of baked Bramley apples, spiced with a hint of star anise, and a crisp, refreshing palate full of greengage and honeyed, crumbed biscuits. 

    Ridgeview, Grosvenor Cuvée Merret (Blanc de Blancs) 2010

    This English sparkling wine is named after the British scientist Christopher Merret who, in 1662, wrote about an ingenious method that could make wine sparkling. His presentation to the Royal Society in London came 30 years before the technique was documented in Champagne region! Nowadays, Ridgeview’s multi award winning Blanc de Blancs is renowned for being the equal of Champagne’s top wines, with its deliciously fine bubbles accenting the flavours of lime, brioche and white peach. Treat yourself with the best of Blighty this Christmas.

    Torelló Brut Reserva Cava Special Edition, NV

    They say beauty is only skin deep, but this exquisitely dressed Cava has as much style, taste and refinement on the inside, as out. Made like a Champagne, this wine will remind you why good quality Cava once ruled the waves, pre-Prosecco. The soft, apple scented palate is balanced by a mouth-watering bite and subtle hints of almonds and vanilla - perfect for any party, from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day.

  • Top 5 Reasons You Should Be Buying Magnums

    5 Reasons to buy magnums this Christmas5 Reasons to buy magnums this Christmas

    5 Reasons to buy magnums this Christmas5 Reasons to buy magnums this Christmas

  • Canapés & Fizz

    Top pick for bubbly | Taittinger Comtes de Champagne was  £130 now £99

    It’s always about this time of year that I start planning ahead for the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year.  Calendars get booked up quickly, work dos begin to fill up the weekends and before you know it you’re nursing a fuzzy head with the faint ringing of Auld Lang Syne in your ears.   My favourite thing to do in this build up to the festive season is put a big dinner on at the weekend, with everyone squeezing round the table preparing for a Christmassy feast, but this year I wanted to do something a little different, so I started looking at a canapé and fizz alternative.

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