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

Your best-buy supermarket champagne… here’s the festive fizz factor scores

Champagne bubbles in a glass

supermarket prosecco supermarket champagneYup – that’s me on this page. Sadly not the pretty thing in the middle, but the old blob on the left wearing a grey cardie. You’ll see we ran a supermarket festive fizz taste test … here’s the supermarket champagne ratings. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

SUPERMARKET CHAMPAGNE: BEST BUY

Wm Morrison Champagne Brut NV supermarket champagneWm Morrison Champagne Brut NV (Morrisons, £15, down from £19 until January 1st)  This is a silver winner at the International Wine Challenge and is a champagne which is happy in its soul. It has honeysuckle, the juicy tease of ripe red apples, vanilla, cream cake and a summer breeze on the nose. It is soft and subtle with gentle flavours and acidity and the juiciness stays with you long after the last sip. Which is what we want, right?
Fizz Factor: 5/5

SUPERMARKET CHAMPAGNE: BARGAIN BUY

Lidl Champagne Comte De Senneval

Champagne Comte De Senneval (Lidl, £9.99) I really, really liked this. There’s aromas of fresh apples with a touch of cinnamon and a yummy ooze of baked apples too, with some sweet temptation of a baking cake. It’s not in your face though, it is subtle like a spring freshness. Apple flavours are very refreshing, and the bubbles, well, they’re happy little bubbles.
Fizz Factor: 5/5

 Supermarket Champagne: The best of the rest

Champagne Veuve Monsigny Vintage Blanc de Blancs Champagne (Aldi, £19.99) You might find this a bit overpowering unless you have a head start in knowing Champagne nuances.  I love this wine. Its an award-winning seasonal  offering which has aromas of apple compote, super-fruity apple tarte tatin, butterscotch and nuts. Side by side with other champers it is almost toffee-like. It has a good acidity and lovely complex rich apple flavours.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

Duval-Leroy Fleur de Champagne Premier Cru (Waitrose, £17.99, down from £26.99 until January 3)  Ah, this is subtle and feminine, delicate and wistful. There’s fresh apples and apple crumble on the nose, with a “hey notice me” wave from lemons. It is more fruity than complex, has a soft mouth-feel and is confident in itself. The name is inspired by the scent of the vine flower.
Fizz Factor: 4/5 

Les Pionniers Champagne Brut NV (the Co-operative, reduced by £1 to £15.99  until January 3) Ah. One of my evergreen favourites. It is a super-reliable Champers, named after the Rochdale Pioneers who founded the Co-operative movement, and it has a reputation of beating big names in blind tastings. It has a nose of biscuit, brioche and apples, and tastes of toffee-dipped green apples. Very drinkable.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

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Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne (£16, down from £19, until January 9) The grapes for this champagne come only from premier and grand cru vineyards, which makes for a special experience from beginning to end. The champagne has a rich nose with lots of ripe apples, vanilla and brioche. It has a good balance of fruit and acidity and some lovely fizzy giddiness plays around your tastebuds. It’s not an overbearing style but has finesse and elegance.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

Sainsbury’s Champagne Blanc de Noirs (£20) There’s three main champagne grapes, one white, two black. If champagne is made   from the white grape only it is blanc de blancs; if just the black grapes are used, the wine is blanc de noirs. That’s what we have here. There’s sumptuous, tempting aromas of brioche, vanilla, butterscotch and citrus but the taste doesn’t live up to the aromas. Saying that, it has a good balance of acidity and a nice fruity flavour.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Louis Vertay Brut NV, (Marks & Spencer, £16.50, from £33 until January 1) A High Five to M&S for just scooping 60 medals, including six golds, at the International Wine Challenge last month. This champers has subtle aromas of fresh and dried fruit, with a sweep of tropical fruit which tickle the senses. Lasting bubbles liven the glass and a taste reveals touches of fruity complexity.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Marquis de Belrive Champagne Brut Reserve (SPAR, £16) I was surprised when I had my first nose dip of this champagne. I said “oooo” because I wasn’t expecting it to have such pretty aromas. It’s not a flag-waving champers, but it’s definitely one you’d be happy to pick up on your way to a party or a family visit. Grapefruit and toasty apples play on the nose and to taste a creamy texture is fizzled with citrus and brioche.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Champagne Pierre Darcy (Asda, £10, reduced from £18 until  December 27)  Well it’s a tenner so you can’t complain at that, but it needs perking up with fresh raspberries to make it a festive treat. The aromas have buttery edges but there isn’t much fruit; to taste there’s no depth or complexity. In fact it is bland and leaves a bitter aftertaste.
Fizz Factor: 1/5

*First published in December 2016 in several 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