This article was meant to be printed last month on Urban Junkies but got lost in the post but for those needing a pick-me-up for January the emphasis on bubbles should still be relevent...
1. ShelfTalk: Festive Fizz.
It’s the holiday season (unless you work in the food, drink, or events industries, in which case festive cheer comes through gritted teeth) and thus time to get fizzical. With such variety on offer why not try something different from standard brand Chamapgnes? Prosecco is increasingly popular, even Cava is making a comeback (with Martin Scorsese directing an advert for Friexenet), and the phenomenal success of our homegrown sparklers - from Ridgeview Estate in Sussex to Cornwall’s Camel Valley Vineyard should not be ignored. If you do want stick to tradition however, Ruinart’s Blanc des Blancs (one of the very few non-vintage examples produced by a Grand Marque) comes highly recommended by WineChap as the perfect canape accompaniment.
2. BoozeBluff: 'Well of course Cristal IS an excellent Champagne and worth the money - its just released and consumed painfully young: - Whilst Krug are on their '95, Roederer have almost run dry of the '00. Perhaps being dropped by Jay-Z and the rest of the Gangster Rap fraternity will ease demand a little and vintages will stay on the shelf a little longer. The 1990 was excellent as I recall' etc etc.
With ‘Cristal-bashing’ being increasingly popular among so called-sophisticated wine lovers, the above nonsense will show your more informed prejudices transcend such bourgeois snobbery.
3. WineMate: Fowl meets Fizz.
Unless you are being French about things (which in other circumstances may be laudable) and preferring to pair it with beef, Pinot Noir, with its red fruits character and lick of tannin is a very good partner to turkey, as is ripe but well-structured structured Chardonnay for those who prefer white. So why not mix it up at Christmas and take your Pinot and Chardonnay sparkling in the form of a good grower’s Rosé Champagne or English equivalent. Too often in life bubbles get left behind after an aperitif glass or the oysters are finished, but for only a little more than a good white or red Burgundy, you can keep drinking bubbles throughout the main course…
4. DrinkOut: Waterloo Brasserie
Sister to Cheyne Walk Brasserie, the Southwark outpost, with its chocolate orange inspired décor and classic French/Mediterranean influenced menu, offers an impressive (250 bins, rising to 300 in the New Year) predominantly European wine list. Put together by charming and knowlegable head sommelier Csaba Adamy from Hungary, the carte emphasises both classic and more unusual wines from France, Italy and Spain to complement the restaurant’s style of cuisine. We took recommendations from the interesting sommelier’s selection pages of the list and were not disappointed. An atypically memorable Albariňo (Seňorío De Cruces 2005, Adegas Castrobray, Rias Baixas) offered notes of salted licqorice and Manzanilla sherry on the nose with hints of fresh cream – like the wholesome tang of a healthy female jogger passing, and married up crisply with my oysters. A full-throttle Minervois (Cuvèe Arthur 2004, Château Cabezac) followed and its succulent, almost indecently ripe mulberry fruit and spicy Christmas Pudding character sufficiently impressed the party that we didn’t bother moving on to the Madiran I had thought to try next. Desserts were accompanied by a young Coteaux de Layon, (2006 Domaine Ogereau), one of my favourite sweet wine regions, Chenin Blanc’s naturally racy acidity making for a more lively pudding pairing than some heavier stickies. The ambience, proper slightly cheesy farmhouse butter and big round tables for larger parties were all plus points alongside the well-tailored wine list. If the French Onion Soup and the Mussels were not highlights on the night and my Cote de Beouf should have stood for longer (opening week teething troubles I’m sure), the Brasserie’s position opposite The Old Vic, with its option to conclude a sub-£15 pre-theatre menu AFTER the show means I am looking forward to a return visit next week at least as much as the panto inbetween.
119 Waterloo Road
Tel:020 7960 0202
5. GrapeVine: Champagne prices on the up in ‘08…
With prices of both red and white varietals rising in the region and an insatiable demand both from by large Champagne houses for more grapes to fuel their dreams of brand dominance and thirsty consumers for more of the good stuff, industry experts are suggesting hikes of up to 10% on retail prices of many Grande Marques in the new year. WineChap suggests taking advantage of those Christmas Champagne offers to buy in your stocks for next year, or is now the time to beat the drum for our own English sparklers (see ShelfTalk above) and support our homegrown fizz?