Private Brand Champagne

Mandois Cuvée Victor 2002 - Watch The Video

Watch Jiles Halling provide an overview of this tremendous champagne:  Mandois Cuvée Victor 2002

Mandois Brut Nature Champagne - Watch The Video

Watch Jiles Halling taste the Mandois Brut Nature Champagne - 2009 Winner of the Chardonnay du Monde Award.

- Based in Pierry with vineyards predominantly in La Côte des Blancs
- Winner in 2009 of the Chardonnay du Monde award
- 40% CH, 30%, PN, 30% PM – Zero dosage- Minimum 4 years ageing
- Elegant,with a hint of saltiness and a great complexity that is revealed as the champagne opens in the glass

NV Champagne - What Does It Actually Mean

NV Champagne – I’ve heard the term, but what does it actually mean?

Wine is a wonderful thing, but it can be confusing at times and champagne is no different.

One of the things that makes anything difficult is when people use words and expressions that they assume everyone else understands when in fact they don’t. So let’s look at a term that you’ve seen loads of times, but perhaps it’s never been explained to you and that’s
‘NV champagne’

Well at the basic level it means non-vintage, but there’s more to it than that.

Most of the bottles of wine you buy have a year printed on the label. That indicates the year in which the grapes were harvested so the date also gives you a clear idea of the age of the wine. The date is called the ‘vintage’ date and it just tells you the year the wine was made.

That’s really useful for a few reasons:

1) some wines you need to keep for a few years before they reach their best, and without the date on the bottle you wouldn’t know how old the wine was.

2) some wines are designed to be drunk whilst there’re fairly young, so again the date is essential information.

3) The quality of the harvest varies each year and in each wine making region so here again knowing the date of the harvest gives you a great indication of the quality of the wine.

So far so good – sure, you need some more information to complete the picture, like which wines can I keep and which should I drink now, and was the harvest in region XYZ a good one this year or not, but you’re off to a good start.

With champagne it’s different...

About 90% of the bottles of champagne you see in the shops have no date on them.

 “What?” you might say. “How can I tell when it was made and whether that year was any good or not?”

Well, you’re right – you can’t tell whether the content of the bottle is any good or not - but that’s the whole point. You don’t need to; that’s been taken care of.

You see, Champagne is a region in the northern part of France and here the weather isn’t reliable enough, or warm enough, to produce a great harvest every year and champagne makers quickly realised that if they made champagne using the grapes harvested in one single year they’d get some very up and down results: one year great, the next year awful – no consistency at all and what does a wine drinker want? Yes, consistent reliable quality every year, in every bottle.

So what did the chamapgne makers do?

Well they figured out that if they put aside some wine every year and keep it in reserve, to age and improve a bit, they can bring it out in subsequent years, when the harvest is perhaps not so good, and by blending the older wine with the more recent wine they can always get the same consistently high quality.

So that’s what they do; they blend together wines from several different years’ harvest and because they do this they can’t possibly put one single date on the label and they can’t say that the champagne is  from one particular vintage.

To get round this they came up with the term non-vintage ( nv for short ) to describe what’s in the bottle.

This way you don’t need to worry about the date, the champagne will always taste pretty much the same from one year to the next. So when you find a champagne that you like, you can stick with it year-in, year-out knowing that the quality and taste will not vary significantly.
Of course you may want to try other brands of NV -  I know I do -or perhaps try vintage champagne.

Yep, you do get vintage champagne too and this IS made using the grapes from just one year’s harvest, but that’s a topic for another time.

Swirl and Sniff

Here’s a simple tip to make you feel a little more confident when the wine waiter asks you to taste the wine before he/she pours.

Yes we’ve all been there at one time or another. Even though those days may be well behind you, we all started not knowing much about wine and being absolutely terrified at the thought that someone was asking us to make a judgement about a wine - in front of other people!

But there is a way to avoid this situation altogether and look really stylish into the bargain.

Actually this tip won’t make you a better wine taster but it will make you appear a lot more sophisticated and sometimes feeling confident and looking sophisticated is what it’s all about.

To understand this little tip let’s first understand what’s going on when a wine waiter asks you to taste.

It’s a common, almost universal, misunderstanding that the wine waiter is asking you to taste the wine to see if you like it. In fact that’s not what is going on at all.

Once you’ve looked through the wine list and ordered a bottle, that’s it, you’ve made your choice. The only reason for rejecting the wine when it is poured is because there’s something wrong with it, not because you suddenly change your mind and decide you don’t like it.

Asking you to taste it therefore is just to ensure that the wine is in good condition, not to see if you like the taste.

Actually the wine waiters could and should test the wine themselves making the whole rigamorole of you tasting a complete waste of time. Weird that, isn’t it? Still, it’s become a sort of ritual and it’s expected of you, so if you know a way of carrying this off with style and applomb the better it will make you and your fellow diners feel.

Almost always you can tell all you need to know without tasting.

All you need to do when the waiter pours a little in the bottom of your glass is to give the glass a little swirl or two so as to release the aromas and then take a good sniff.

If the wine is faulty you’ll notice an unpleasant musty smell, rather like damp cardboard.  Perhaps there might also be a smell of green peppers ( the vegetable that is, not green peppercorns). If you get a whiff of either of these you know that there’s something wrong with the wine and you are perfectly entitled to send it back.

If you smell something a little odd but you’re not sure, that’s the time to taste just to check, but at least now you have more idea of what you checking for.

So,  9 times out of 10, there’s no need to taste at all.

 Just a firm swirl of the glass followed by a good sniff will tell you all you need to know PLUS it will make you appear like a real expert who knows, with just a sniff, what a wine’s all about.

Most people don’t know this so believe me, you’ll look really impressive.

Try it and see. It’s true for all wine including champagne. I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the results and enjoy your wine too

How to Choose Champagne Glasses

A Few Tips About Glassware/Stemware For Champagne

Choosing stemware is like everything else to do with wine, the only opinion that counts is your’s.

Having aid that it’s useful to bear in mind what the famous English artist and writer William Morris once said
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Fortunately with stemware the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Coupe or Flûte?

There are two basic styles of champagne glass: the shallow, saucer-shaped glass called a coupe and the tall, narrow style called a flûte. Whichever style you select it’s worth giving some thought to your choice because it can make a big difference to your enjoyment of the champagne.

The flûte has several advantages if you really want to appreciate the champagne you’re drinking. First you can see the stream of bubbles rising up the length of the glass and the bubbles, after all, are one of the main pleasures of champagne.

Second and more important, the tall, narrow shape focuses the aromas so that when you raise the glass to drink you can also smell and enjoy the full concentration of the aromas. That’s why the most effective flûtes curve slightly inwards at the top (like the shape of a tulip), whilst those that open out at the top (like the shape of a lily) allow some of the aromas to escape.

Coupe glasses can be a lot of fun. For me they evoke images of decadent cocktail parties in the 1920s with people doing the Charleston, but they go back a lot further than that because
legend has it that the shape was modelled on Marie Antoinette’s breast.

I think coupes are great for serving champagne cocktails, but equally some people can’t get the less flattering connection with the cheap 60’s drink Babycham, out of their minds.

The main drawback of the coupe is that the aromas of the champagne dissipate sideways very rapidly and you simply don’t get the concentration of aromas that you can appreciate with a flûte.

Another story you often hear about coupe glasses is that the bubbles disappear more quickly than in a flûte. This is another old wives’ tale which for all intents and purposes is of no practical value. The bubbles in champagne just don’t disappear in a few minutes, even in a coupe glass – it takes an hour, or much more, for champagne to lose its sparkle. I don’t know how long it takes you to finish a glass of champagne, but in my case it’s a matter of minutes, not hours, so I shouldn’t pay much attention to this particular myth about coupe glasses.

Washing the glasses

Whichever type of stemware you choose make sure that you never use rinse aid when you’re washing them. This creates a film on the inside of the glass that inhibits the formation of the bubbles. Use rinse aid and you’ll end up with sparkling glases but no sparkle in your champagne.

For exactly the same reason it’s also best not to use detergent.
The best method is simply to wash the glasses in hot (and I mean very hot) water and let them dry naturally. If necessary polish them with a dry cloth and that’s it.