Champagne on ice that’s great, yes please. But what’s this? Champagne WITH ice?

Moet Ice Imperial champagne with ice

I know I’m not fashionable. I only have to look in my wardrobe to know that. I don’t listen to the latest tunes and I prefer to watch a Doris Day film rather than a superhero leaping from a building dressed as a spider.

But I am what I am.

The other week I was invited to a special tasting with winemaker Marie-Christine Osselin from Moët & Chandon. I love meeting people who are at the heart of making wine, its a great chance to pick their brains.

But back to my fashion sense, or should I say awareness. We went through Moët’s range of champagnes and then … what’s this? A champagne to drink with ice? Sacre bleu!!

Yes indeedy, Moët have created Moët Ice Impérial which is designed to drink with ice (£45 Clos19.com and Selfridges, 12% abv). I’d never heard of this idea but it seems a few people have – some folks at the tasting said, oh yes, this is great, and a workpal tells me she’s seen the champers on holiday. (The workpal was on holiday, not the champagne – I don’t think it would be very good at packing a suitcase).

 

Part of me was kind of, well, why would you spoil a champagne with ice? But it’s fashion apparently. There you have it, I’m not fashionable.

Marie told our little gathering that the ice is even used as part of the blending process – this is when the winemaking team decides what proportions of each of the core champagne wines – pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay – they will use to create the flavours and style of wine they want.

I tried the champers both on its own (no ice) and with ice, together with a slice of pink grapefruit. I wasn’t a huge fan of the champagne “neat” but yes, with the grapefruit and ice it went up another level and was fruity and refreshing, but a tad sherberty. It is sweet, that’s for sure. I can imagine it being a wow in the heat of the Mediterranean sun.

Then – just days after my Moët experience, along came another wine in a similar vein. Freixenet ICE White (RRP £12.99. Morrisons, Tesco and Ocado, 11.5 % abv) is also designed to be tasted with ice.

This cava is a blend of the traditional cava grapes macabeo, xarel-lo and parellada, together with chardonnay, and has been aged in Freixenet’s cellars for up to 14 months. I chunked some ice into a bowl of a glass (my gin glass) and glugged in the cava.

Again, sweetness is king here and the fizz had aromas of honeysuckle, sweet peas and tropical fruit, with an underlying lift of vanilla and biscuit. It’s one to consider for summer afternoons on the patio.

 

Also in my glass …. I’ve moved from one chapter of my life to another. To mark it, I had a sip of more fizz. And why not. Gremillet Rose d’Assemblage Brut, (£24.99, WineTrust100, 12% abv) is a champagne made from pinot noir (70%) and chardonnay (30%) and is a lush salmon pink colour with bubbles that are happy to greet you. It has aromas of ripe strawberries and red berries and that oh-I-so-love aroma of vanilla and freshly-baked biscuits. To taste, its a fizz whizz of red fruits and citrus with a good acidity.

*Published in May 2017 in over 20 regional UK newspapers including:

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

Christmas fizz which isn’t prosecco or champagne!

glass of bubbles, christmas fizz

Prosecco and Champagne can take centre stage at the office Christmas party, family gathering or girlie night  – but here’s some other Christmas fizz ideas which will fit the bill.

Provetto Spumante Bianco Brut (10.5% abv £4.99, Bargain Booze) This wine achieves the wow factor when used as a cocktail mixer. It’s a great way to add some festive sparkle to party drinks such as bellinis and mimosa-style creations. It’s not over-complicated but for a fiver it can be a fizz that gets the party started.
Christmas fizz score: 2/5

SPAR Cava Rosado (11.5% abv, £6) When you’re in a rush and you need a pink fizz you won’t go far wrong if you pick up this in your travels. It’s a pretty little thing, a strawberry pink, with soft aromas of fresh strawberries and just an edge of complexity which a cava brings to the party. In fact, why not take it to a party. For £1 more, buy SPAR’s Perlezza Rosé, which is a blush of pink bubbles to please any hostess.
Christmas fizz score: 3/5

The Society’s Cava Brut Reserva (12% abv, £8.25, www.thewinesociety.com) One of my friends said this wine was her “new fave”. You can’t beat cava. I love it. This crisp appley number is made from the traditional cava grapes parellada, macabeo and xarel-lo with a touch of chardonnay. It is rounded, squidgy and scrumptious – and at the same time remains elegant, in balance and with long-lasting flavours.
Christmas fizz score: 5/5

Codorniu Gran Crémant Vintage Brut Cava (11.5% abv £9.99 the Co-op) This wine has been developed exclusively for the Co-op. The label shouts class – then it has a complex, soft, fruity character which just can’t be mirrored by a simple prosecco. A fleck of toast nudges past pears and stone fruit on the nose, and to taste apples, lemons and stone fruit are soft but vibrant.
Christmas fizz score: 4/5

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Langlois Brut Crémant (12.5% abv, £13.50, winetrust100.co.uk) A wine with mmmmm factor.  This bottle of bubbly heaven is better than many of the champagnes on the market and costs a lot less, so you could even be cheeky and treat yourself to two bottles. It has a lovely creamy taste that will pop your cork. The label is owned by Champagne Bollinger.
Christmas fizz score: 5/5

The Chalk Valley English Sparkling Wine (12% abv, £14.99, aldi.co.uk and selected Aldi stores) This is an exclusive blend developed between Aldi’s wine team and Denbies’  winemakers. It has good citrus and apple aromas with a hint of spring flowers and a crumble of brioche; to taste it is tongue-tingling dry with a hint of creamy texture and apple flavours balance well with a shiver of acidity.
Christmas fizz score: 3/5

Montes Sparkling Angel (12% abv, £15.50 www.oddbins.com) This is the first sparkling wine made by Viña Montes and they’ve used the traditional techniques which create champagne. It is a blend of pinot noir (70 per cent) and chardonnay it spends 36 months on the lees to create complexity. It’s a wine of two halves – the nose has the dry intensity of walnuts and toast; then to taste it is much lighter, with fresh citrus and subtle stone fruits.
Christmas fizz score:3/5

First published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals December 2016

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express