Wednesday, 18 December 2013


It is just that time of the year that the wine shops love! Surpised? I am not! It is now that most wine shops get copious amounts of Champagne to satify our insatiable desire to drink! Yes and we drink like fish! Some have it a hobby, some have it as a job, some have it as a release valve but some are down right afraid of it! Few years back I said to someone, 'I drink Champagne daily'. The lady confronted me 'Are you French?' to which I jovially replied 'No I am an alcoholic'. So where is the line that divides the alcoholic from a mere consumer? Can I say I am in denial? How much is too much? Binge? Drink often but small amounts? Moderation (in excess)? I love Chamapagne! Does that make me an alcoholic though? To be more precise does that make me an addict? If love is the premise of my addiction in this case aren't we all addicts then? Don't we just simply love, or crave it when we dont' feel it? Or do we substitute it? I love that psychologist say 'as long as it does not affect your life' it is ok. But what if it does affect my life? What if it is my livelihood? What then? Would stopping my addiction result in a negative impact on my life by losing my job? There are other questions that necessary to ask. But these should do for this time of the year. As far as I am concerned these times will be a challenge to me as well. Social pressures are so that I will have to concede and drink during times I hate drinking. Yes, I loathe drinking during the day! Even more surprising may be that I actually hate being drunk! But I love drinking Champagne undisturbed; that is alone and especially when I am tasting something I have not had! I also hate drinking Champagne when I go out but few know about it and since most know me as the Champagne Guru, I still drink; but then how often do I actually go out? I love Champagne above all drinks! It is the most regulated, controlled and elaborate production of wine in the world and produces some of the finest wines on worldwide scale, unmatched and often exceeding the great wines of Burgundy. I love how balanced it is. the fact that the appelation of Champange controls the alcohol content which is just perfect for me. It might induce slight delirium but never too drunk! It is also very healthy but same is said about red wine. Give me a wine that has more than 13% alcohol and will never drink a glass of it! So perhaps it is true: 'it is not important how much you drink, but what you drink'. Oh! and, by the way, since the alcohol content is smaller it is quite important to point out that Champagne is 88% water! :)


No, there are no specific dogs in vintages. But I have to continue on my previous entry. I have addressed the issue with vintages before, albeit briefly, yet with a keen eye one could gage my point. So to clarify. For anyone who does not drink Champagne at leat twice a week, and even if the one does drink it as often, unless one choses to drink different vintage and different style of wine on every occasion, the likelyhood of experiencing the very fine differences in harvests and in house styles is very slim. Whilst the differences in house style are best manifest in the non vintage wine, harvest specific are always emphasised while the houses style is used a method of production rather than, the wine being the vehicle of it at the cost of the uniques of the specific vintage. It goes without saying that some specific harverst suit some houses more and some less. Naturally! Unlike with house styles, which cannot be characterised by a digit, vintages do have a technical parameters which determine its quality. In theory, and mostly in practice, weather influcences the two key indicators of quality of grapes. Those are sugar and acidity content. The more they are 'close together', in value, the better the vintage; classic example is 1990 where they are all around the value 10mmol (don't quote me on the value, I am not 100% sure, but I know I am quite right about that). The closest vintage to 1990, in technical terms, was 1996. The likelyhood of anyone having the chance to taste those vintages is very slim. But, 2002 is showing a good balance, and 2004 is great structure, quite similar to 1995 (1995 was ethereal to differentiate, whereas 2004 is just big and structured - this however, is very difficult to say now, as the commercial release of both the vintages was different and both wines had very different exposure to leas. I personally think that 95 was amazing when released earlier, and I wish I had had the opportunity to taste 2004 that had the same lees expose; but I am too late. It is crucial to realise that, as demonstrated on these two vintages, the commercial factors were different. Just for a brief ilustration, the 95 was released shortly after 2000 celebration and the demand for champagne in those years was massive and ever increasing. I have addressed the benefits of global recession before but here, speculatively, is what I suspect to be the case when we look at 2004 vintage and the need to keep it on lees longer. Since there was reduced demand for Champagne, the houses kept the vintages on lees longer not to reduce the price of Champagne, and in theory, when on lees, it is believed that the wines remain younger. But the exposure to dead yeast cells has an effect on the wine. The only real hope to get closer to the desired assessment is get a magnum but then, I have not seen 2004 in a magnum yet!). At any rate, the massive desire of catagorisation of vintages is just a unfair as is the catagorisation of Champagne houses. One historical anomally of Champagne vintages is that no year ending with the number 1 has ever produced a decent wine. 01/91/81/71 etc are regarded as dismal years, but to point out the variations in house styles (mostly the source of available grapes), Krug released historical anomally and that was 1981 vintage. So how a layman learna about champagne vintages and make his/hers own opinion about each harvest and its manifestations in wine? DRINK DRINK DRINK DRINK! drink often! This does not mean that the drinker should drink the same! Diversify! :) And yes drinking responsibly is vital! I disagree with just tasting! Yes if you manage to get a group of friends together and one knows more about Champagne than most you are likely to get something interesting out of it, but nothing beats your own desire to learn and drink. One bottle per person if you want to enjoy it, for half a bottle is never enough! That is like getting half an orgasm! :) Still the more you drink the more comfortable you will become, and if you are critical, it is perfectly fine to disagree with what others believe to be the best/vintage, champange!!! Merry Christmas. Peter

Monday, 9 December 2013


I am not a dog! I may be, at times, regarded as a proper bitch, and in some instances far worse than that, but, I am simply a homo sapiens and as such I am very much a hunter that is predominantly ruled by the visual rather than the olfactory, just like dogs are.

In the wine world, noses and taste buds are far more important than eyes. I tend to look at everything. I sniff, like a real dog, I taste like a real wine professional, I consume the visual of Champagne like a proper Champagne consumer, but unlike most, I prefer, and encourage in others, to form, my, their, own opinion.

It is not in my interest to write now an entire essay dedicated to the industry of wine and how it makes money on Champagne but merely give an idea of what it is to be about and how it applies to my next entry.

I don't like being seen as a Champagne critic. I do, however, understand, why people see me as one. I am not paid for it, and as I have already said, my comments on Champagne are purely to encourage people to pick up a glass and smell it, taste it, enjoy it and I actively encourage any Champagne drinker to learn, and learn to appreciate Champagne.

But some don't have that interest. It is inherently difficult to objectivise something intrinsically subjective.

I will elaborate on all the points in the book but for now;

Recently, I had the new edition of Stephenson's 'Champagne and Sparkling Wine Encyclopaedia' in my hands and looked at the updates. I own a copy of the first edition, and I do credit Stephenson for a variety of reason to have embarked on cataloguing Champagnes and Sparkling wines, but I have always had a strong reservation towards, assessment of Houses of either Champagne and/or Sparkling wine makers.

I was quite surprised to read that Krug only received 98 (points?) out of, presumably, 100. Whilst I am not the greatest of fan of Krug, I would argue that Krug, irrespective of my pertinent reservations towards house, is one of the greatest Champagne makers in Champagne and in fact one of the greatest wine makers in the world.

Still the idea of 'boxing' Champagne houses of 'considerable distinction' into value digit is rather unfair to the maker and misleading to the consumer.

In truth, no sparkling wine can measure up to most great Champagnes, but that does not reduce the wine making abilities of the cave master. Just in case Mr. Stephenson needed a reminder, much depends on grape varieties, climate, sun exposure, style of production, market segment, method of production and other factors. Undoubtedly, his work educates, but only a hands on experience can truly assess wines, and while his experience is richer but that is not to say that he knows, or can speak for any consumer or for every consumer, that one house is particularly better than another.

But I had to agree with him, that to spend £2500 on a bottle of Krug Clos d'Ambonnay, is unjustifiable.

more soon!  :)