Josh is on holiday this week, so it’s Isabelle head of wine here, taking over the newsletter.
If you’ve seen our most recent blog, you’ll know we’ve been talking about ‘grower Champagne’. There’s a history behind Champagne plus Josh’s book review of Bursting Bubbles by Robert Walters. You can read it here.
We are really excited about our ‘grower’ Champagnes. These are all small producer sparkling wines, where the family looks after every aspect of winemaking. We’ve added two new ones to the list as well as my favourite one below:
Le Petit Beaufort Brut £32 -This can't technically be called a Champagne as it's made just outside of the region’s boundary.
Le Petit Beaufort Brut Rosé Taille £25. From the same producer, ‘taille’ means the tail end. It refers to the last press of the grapes, resulting in deeply coloured wine.
Suenen C&C Blanc de blanc Grand Cru £62is textured, with minerality and loads of butter aromas. I just bought this as a wedding present for my best friend who loves butter just as much as I do.
Our Youtube Live Tasting of the July wines will be slightly different next week. It will take place on our Youtube channel at 8pm on Wednesday 14th July.
But this month, the first 20 minutes will be dedicated to learning how to taste for anyone who is brand new. We’ll go through the different parts of the tasting card and set ourselves up for our wine tasting.
We’ll then talk through our white wine at 8.20pm and our red at 8.40pm, so if you'd prefer, you can jump into the tasting then. We'd also love to hear your feedback on these monthly YouTube sessions
Three easy weekday wines
Over the weekend I had some of Crémant d’Alsace (Aldi, £12). It’s a blend of the local grapes auxerrois, pinot gris, pinot blanc and riesling. It’s got the fruit-forward sheer juiciness of a Prosecco but then has a little richness, a savoury quality and slight body to create a lovely balanced drink.
Viognier as a grape can make wines that are sometimes a little too aromatic for my liking. It’s naturally low acidity can make the wine feel flabby when it‘s in the wrong hands. This Taste the Difference Viognier (Sainsbury’s, £8) is much lighter in style. I had it a little colder than usual and it made for a lovely, fresh and chirpy garden drink. Apricot with honeysuckle, orange and blossom. As it warmed up, more flavours came out and added depth and interest.
Notte Rossa Primitivo di Manduria (M&S, £11) has a label of a person trying to reach the stars. From the south of Italy, this zinfandel is rich, deep and complex. The colour is a deep red. Barrel ageing has given this wine vanilla, chocolate and caramel flavours, intermingled with plum, raspberry and cherry. The type of wine that you’re happy to open as a glass in your cooking and then finish the bottle off while it simmers.
Why do all sparkling wine bottles look the same?
The pressure inside a bottle of sparkling wine is enormous. It is around six times the pressure of a car tyre and those who have been hit by a rogue cork will have felt that.
Whilst sparkling wine has been around for centuries, it was technology - some researched and some accidental - that has allowed us to transport and store our bubbles safely.
Glass bottles would often break under the pressure of forming the bubbles.
Britain developed a method for strong glass. In the 1600s, the Royal Navy were using the wood from oak trees to build ships for all the wars in this era. Glassmakers had to use coal to fuel their fires instead. This created a much hotter furnace, allowing them to create much stronger glass. These bottles were able to withstand the production of sparkling wine.
To make the bottle even stronger, you’ll notice the punt in the bottom. This is the big dip underneath the bottle. It makes the glass more of one continuous curve rather than edges with fragile sheets of glass in between. The physics of making strong structures means the pressure is more evenly spread with no breaking points.
The British had a very close relationship with Portugal. They would import their natural cork from here where the cork trees grow in abundance. These were much more reliable than the cloths with wooden stoppers in use in France.
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