A Current Taste for Champagne

Champagne served in Coupette glasses

Champagne served in Coupette glasses

By Emily Harman

It is really exciting that we live in a transient time, the everyday person on the street is more open to experiencing the new and happy to move away from but also return back to tradition. Champagne is classic wine choice for most, it conjures up feelings of celebration and occasion and for over 200 years it has been received as a very special wine that is associated with grandeur, festivity and extravagance. The Champagne flute is almost as notorious and since the 1930s, it has been common practice for a long time to see the two together.

But what is happening in Champagne today? Over the last decade especially ,Champagne has had a bit of a shake down. There are now a healthy sized handful of conscientious growers - who are looking after their vines and the soil they grow in. Their tiny parcels of vines are being farmed organically and even biodynamically in some cases. Working this way can be dismissed by larger producers in the region who claim, this is impossible in such a marginal climate, where growers are constantly battling with the climate.

These growers work on a small scale, Vincent Laval (Champagne Georges Laval), works his 3 hectares of vine by hand and horse throughout the year. All his wines are made by hand in the cellar, with bottles being riddled by hand also. Vincent and other like minded producers are picking their grapes when they are ripe so the base wine for their Champagne is full of character and a lot more flavour. Further to this, less dosage is added so the expression of the wine is really tasted. These Champagnes offer complexity and unique personality. 

The Grand Marques are still striving to achieve excellence through their brand styles and still remain with a strong foothold with the world of Champagne, producers such as Krug, Ruinart, Pol Roger and Salon are still highly respected and well received on the global market.

What else is changing? Along with the new revolution of 'Growers Champagne' that has spiked the interest of many wine professionals and enthusiasts, the vessel in which we serve our fizz is something that has been slowly evolving. Many cocktail bars there has been a push back to using the Coupette glass for both cocktails and Champagne, this is something that has spread to a number of restaurants. In the Sommelier world, we have long moved away from the Coupette and now the flute. What has taken their place?

The standard white wine glass from well respected glass manufacturers such as Riedel and Zalto has stepped in the Champagne flutes shoes. With the understanding that many of the wines from Champagne offer a complexity of aroma and flavour that is simply lost in the shape of most flutes. A white wine glass is considered more suitable than a red wine glass, due to the fact that the wider width of a red glass means that a larger surface area would result in a faster loss of carbonation!

Being served your favourite glass of bubbles in a wine glass can be a surprise, but purely for the enjoyment of flavour - it's well worth a try!