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Jiles Halling's Blog

Jiles spent 10 years living and working in Champagne working for Moet et Chandon.

During that time, Jiles built up a vast amout of knowledge about all things bubbly, making lots of contacts in the region, and getting to know the people who've lived there for centuries while crafting their products with love and passion.

After moving back to the UK in late 2004, Jiles decided to bring this unique knowledge and contribution to the wider world.  The hidden secrets, the best champagnes and the insider knowledge that is not usually available through the normal channels, is now here for you.  Since March 2010, Jiles is once again based in Champagne, living in the small grand cru village of Verzy.

In this you'll find everything you ever wanted to know about champagne, the drink, the people, the region and the food.  Please enjoy your visit and please join in the conversation by leaving your thoughts in the comments section or liking us on Facebook.


Chouilly-mention225In Champagne more and more small producers are coming to the conclusion that a good way to add value and to differentiate themselves from each other, and from the big brands, is to emphasise their terroir. What better way to do this, according to these producers, than to put the name of the village of origin prominently the label?

However INAO (the French National Institute for Appellations d’Origines) is opposed to this, to the extent, if my understanding is correct, that they forbid the practice. The UMC (Union des Maisons de Champagne) which is the association for the larger brands, is also opposed.

If you like discovering tiny champagne makers of good quality that very few people know about , then you'll enjoy Champagne Christian Briard.

Cuvee-Ambre-Vigne-225Christian's Cuvée Ambre 2005 is featured in the latest edition of Luxurious magazine. Great exposure for Christian, but in some ways the article doesn’t do full justice to his story, so perhaps I can fill in a few gaps.

You could say that this is the story of the prodigal son. Christian’s father wasn’t a champagne maker or vigneron, and there was no obvious reason for Christian to enter the world of champagne. Instead he followed a quite different career path and spent the majority of his career - until a few years ago - in the high tech industry of smart cards; an industry that has nothing to do with wine, apart perhaps, from drinking it.

However Christian’s grandfather WAS a vigneron and it seems that the pull of the family terroir proved irresistible to Christian, lead him to turn his back on the world of chip and PIN and brought him back to his tiny home village of Jaulgonne, quite a way down the Marne River valley westwards from Epernay.

This is the heart of Pinot Meunier country and it’s only natural therefore that Meunier features strongly in all the Christian Briard blends. Consequently they're fruity and soft on the palate, but they nevertheless have an elegance that will come as a pleasant surprise to those who feel that Pinot Meunier can be a little 'rustic'.

Christian-tasting225So far there are only three champagnes in the range:

Cuvée Ambre Vintage 2005 – the one that was featured in Luxurious magazine

Cuvée Maurice Romelot named after Christian’s grandfather and

Cuvée Rubis, a rosé

Each champagne is beautifully presented in a bottle hand-decorated using a design created by a famous Vietnamese artist.

Why Vietnamese you might wonder.Oysters-and-Champagne-Christian-Briard225

Well, this is another interesting and unique feature of Champagne Christian Briard. Over the years Christian has spent many months in Vietnam where he not only acquired an appreciation for the country’s culture and cuisine, but where he also met his wife. So,a little oriental touch on the bottle seems only natural. 

You can find out more about Champagne Christian Briard here where you’ll also discover some fascinating food and champagne matching recipes that are refreshingly original compared what is on offer on many other sites. 

A small champagne producer that is well worth getting to know

Christmas and New Year wouldn’t be the same without a few bottles of champagne to share with your friends and family, but to add that little bit of extra sparkle and style to your celebrations here are a few tips taken from the famous Château de Saran, in the heart of Champagne, that are really simple and make you look and feel like a real connoisseur.

LA COTE DES BARS – Coming into its own

Ville-sur-Arce225As we come up to the end of the year when more champagne is drunk than at other times of the year, some of you may reach for one of the well-known brands that are available almost all over the planet and some of you may be tempted to seek out something a bit different. If you’re in the second group don’t overlook champagnes from an all-too-often overlooked region of Champagne called la Côte des Bars.

Here are a few reasons why you would do well to widen your horizons beyond the more famous vineyards around Reims and Epernay.

There was a very interesting article that appeared in the local paper today here in Champagne.

From-Pannier-to-Caisse-for-web-siteIt is all about the price of grapes in Champagne and I think you’ll find it very thought provoking to say the least.

According to the article, there are some people who foresee a major shift in the balance of power in Champagne in the near future.

They fear the breakdown of the delicate balance between large brands and small family enterprises that has served Champagne so well for many years. Who knows what that might mean for the small grower champagne and for that matter, for you too, whether you are in the wine trade, or a champagne consumer?

Yes, it’s almost the end of the year and Christmas and New Year wouldn’t be the same without a few bottles of champagne to share with your friends and family, but to add that little bit of extra sparkle and style to your celebrations here are a few tips taken from the famous Château de Saran, in the heart of Champagne, that are really simple and make you look and feel like a real connoisseur.

Plus, your chance to get your copy of the 2013 version of The Insider's Guide To Champagne e-book updated with video links and new illustrations.

I should start with a confession. I called this article Cuvée Champagne because I wanted to get it noticed on search engines and there appear to be an awful lot of people who search on-line for the term Cuvée Champagne.

Now that’s rather odd because there’s really no such thing as Cuvée Champagne, at least it’s certainly not a commonly used term.

Of course the word cuvée exists, but even that has two different meanings. So, perhaps a few lines on the subject will help everyone get a better understanding of this confusing term. Here goes then…

Grapes-left-on-the-ground225A short while ago I posted a short video on my Facebook page  My Man In Champagne) showing lots of bunches of what looked like perfectly good grapes that had been picked and just left lying on the ground.

I was puzzled as to why anyone would do this and I promised to find out and let you have an explanation. Well, you can discover the reason below and whether you are someone who just wants to learn more about champagne, someone who is in the wine trade or perhaps someone who is studying wine, even with the WSET or another well-known wine school, this it will give you another insight into the intricacies of champagne that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.

Moet1953-225I’ve always thought that the issue of declaring a vintage in Champagne should be treated differently than in other wine regions.

In most other wine regions there is usually a consensus about which years are good vintages and which years are not. Many people will tell you that there are also a few great years in Champagne that you really must seek out and discover. This means that some years become hugely popular but it also implies that the other vintages are a bit second rate. I think this is too simplistic. Let me explain why and at the end of the article you’ll find two short video interviews to show you what I mean…

LansonTanker225We’re about half way through the harvest in Champagne.

Down in the Aube things are drawing to a close and in La Côte des Blancs too some people have already finished and most others will be done in another couple of days. La Vallée de La Marne vineyards have several days picking in front of them yet, whilst on La Montagne de Reims, picking has only just started in some villages.

There will be plenty of time to bring you up to speed on the picking, pressing and fermenting in future blog posts, so today I wanted to bring you some of the less obvious sights and sounds of harvest time in Champagne.