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

Add dash of Chambord to prosecco for a summery cocktail

Chambord prosecco

I’VE been sitting here thinking about strawberries and Wimbledon and the Longest Day (because, scarily, we have reached that daylight milestone).

Where do I take you this week, I’ve been asking myself. What homework do I set you in my continued challenge to encourage you to drink something new. To cast away the grigio and run free, barefoot across the bottled landscape; wind billowing through your hair, the sun glinting off your clasped shiny corkscrew. (Not sure running barefoot across bottles is a good analogy. So tread carefully.)

I‘ve been torn. But no more. I’ve shrugged off the image of my one reader (that’s you) running around crazily looking for wine, and have landed on Chambord.

Plaza prosecco review

Purely by chance. I poured a glass of prosecco, Plaza Centro Prosecco (Tesco, £6.49 until July 1, reduced from £12.99). It‘s OK. It’s prosecco. A good light lemon flurry of pouring bubbles enjoying the contact with fresh air longer than most, and a burst of citrus in the mouth. You’re never going to get a complexity of tastes with prosecco, unlike a cava or a crémant. I needed an added “something” to liven up the brain cells I use for words.

Then I remembered I had a bottle of Chambord one of my closest friends had bought me.  (A 20cl bottle is in Tesco for £7.50).

If you’ve never tried it, I urge you to do so.  The Chambord website tells me:

“Chambord is the premium black raspberry liqueur with a fine French heritage. Chambord stands alone in its category — and in its iconic, captivating packaging.”

The bottle is so pretty.  It should be gracing a dressing table.

Chambord liqueur
Chambord liqueur, oh so pretty

I poured a little glug into the glass and it turned a glass of sparkles into  a fruity cocktail treat. A weekday luxury as I’m tapping on this laptop with Corrie on the TV. Come on Peter Barlow, shape up.

Chambord is 16.5% abv and gave the prosecco more oomph and a delightful raspberry depth. Sparkles aside, there’s a heap of cocktail ideas you can create, including vodka, Chambord and soda (pop a raspberry in too). Or Chambord suggests a French Martini, which is vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice.

Yums. Lovely little summery treats.

If you want to look for other sparklers to celebrate the summer, then a good starting point could be a handful of supermarket own-brand wines which dominated the Great Value Sparkling category in the recent International Wine Challenge Awards.

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco Superiore review
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut 2013
  • Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut 2013 (£10) was awarded the Great Value Awards for sparkling under £12.
  • The Co-operative picked up the mid-range Great Value Award (sparkling wines between £12 and £20) for its Les Pionniers NV Champagne (£16.99). 
  • Waitrose won the Great Value sparkling under £25 award with its Blanc de Noirs Brut NV (£24.99).

If you want a pink sparkle without the home-made element then Freixenet has two lovely cavas Cordon Rosado (RRP £9.99) and the classy-looking Elyssia Pinot Noir (RRP £14.99).

Freixenet cava elyssia pinot noir brut review
Freixenet Elyssia cava

Both are widely available. The rosada uses two “stand up and be counted grapes” trepat and garnacha and delivers bright red fruits and blackberries. Elyssia is one to grace a special dining table and has a lightness of touch that pinot noir brings and lots of summer fruits.

So what do I always say? Go forth and experiment.

Published in the saturday extra magazine June 21, 2014