My Taste - big v small
Carol Emmas takes part in a blind tasting that pits the big brand Champagnes against the small growers.
Grower/producers are on the rise in a market where many big brands have devalued themselves in the supermarkets and the on-trade battles with selling brand names at obviously transparent prices. Holding a blind Champagne tasting of grower versus brand at Chamberlain's restaurant in London's Leadenhall Market was Frenchbubbles, a specialist in fine grower Champagnes.
The aim was to eliminate the pre conceived judgements we make, knowing what's on the front of the bottle, by pitching brands against artisanal, family-produced Champagnes and judging them in terms of quality and value for money.
The favourites of the night were pretty unanimous within the tasting group, with two grower Champagnes almost neck and neck for top votes. The Pertois-Moriset Blanc de Blancs
Grand Cru NV's golden hue showed a bit of barrel age. The nose was one of apricot and fig, with a hint of marzipan plus brioche. It is good value at £25.95 . Waris-Larmandier Cuvée Empreinte Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2002 (£38.95) displayed a subtle nose of lemon, a rich, creamy palate and a dough and almond finish.
Drinking well was Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut NV (£40 ). Pale in the glass it displayed white fruits and an elegant, rich roundness. Quality also shone through in the
Furdyna Blanc de Noirs Réserve Brut NV (£24.95) which was well rounded, soft and flavoursome. Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial NV (£37.50) was refined, with a nose of pear, papaya, a hint of lime and a light, creamy palate. Oddly, my second -to -least favourite, yet coming in as others' number one, was the Colin Cuvée Alliance Brut NV (£19.95) - but I guess the small growers can't win 'em all.
By comparison, Cloudy Bay Pelorus Brut NV (£19.99) was thin, with not much on the nose and only hints of flavour, although we were comparing it with drinks that were out of its league. But if you could buy a small grower non-vintage Champagne for the same price I know what my choice would be. frenchbubbles.co.uk