Nightmare on Curzon Street – yes, you CAN have too much fine Champagne!

7 Oct

Being unable this week to finish a glass of exquisite pink vintage bubbly, Dom Perignon 2000 to be precise, reminded us of how we learned to love and then leave fine Champagne on the other side of Curzon Street a couple of decades ago.   Almost opposite, in fact, the excellent Tempo restaurant, which will soon be pairing DP with succulent dishes featuring lobster, truffles and other rarefied ingredients in a special seasonal menu.

The place was the Champagne Exchange, the time towards the end of David’s time as a flack before returning to his natural inclination to be a hack.   His agency represented this posh bar which disseminated the best and the worst of bubbly and demanded half its fee to be taken in kind.   So we drank more Champagne than ever before in our lives, and learnt we loved Pol Roger, hated Pommery and that it was not, at the end of the day, all about grandes marques.  Years earlier, we had cultivated a fondness for Lanson, sold by our local pub in Witney, and think it’s still under-valued.   We also have yet to taste a Champagne that beats Krug, with its buttery, butterscotch richness which is still our favourite drop for Christmas morning.   Better to save all year and drink a bottle of something spectacular than average bubbly all year long, in our opinion.

All this tasting did more than teach us what we did and did not like in Champagnes – we also discovered there was a sense of mise en place about it, and that while a glass of festive pink is a gorgeous prelude to a white-linen lunch in France, more than a glass or two of bubbly can produce a horrid, speedy hangover in the concrete jungle of London.   So despite the reputation of Dom’s blanc 2002, a couple of glasses of it were not totally soaked up by the tagliolini with truffles, the wild halibut and the lemon tart, and left us feeling speedy and liverish by evening.

Not to decry the best of the French – there’s always something special about the Dom, Cristal, Krug or Perrier-Jouet being wheeled out – but some really good drops of sparkling are being made elsewhere.  We have not forgotten the Freixenet we bought for our wedding, the  Chapel Down pink we were given a few years ago or the Seaview we drank in Australia and mourned the fact it was not being exported.   Looking forward to trying our bottle of Camel Valley from Cornwall, and some Yarden from Israel which should be equally excellent given the cleverness of the winemaker at this vineyard which sparked Israel’s spectacularly successful move into premium vintages.

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