Linthwaite House Hotel in Cumbria is the annual winner of the Condé Nast Johansens Champagne Taittinger – ‘Wine List of the Year’ award

The judging panel for the awards included; Justin Llewelyn, ambassador for Champagne, Taittinger Sarah-Jane Evans, MW and wine editor of BBC Good Food and Olive Magazine, Andrew Warren, managing director, Condé Nast Johansens and Fiona Patrick, client services director for Johansens who acted as facilitator and joint organiser.

Judges described the wine list at Linthwaite House Hotel as: “A really well put together list which is easy to read, educational as well as humorous and a joy to handle.”

Lynn Murray, marketing director of Hatch Mansfield – the sole UK agent for Champagne Taittinger – said: “Linthwaite House Hotel has a truly impressive list and offers choice at great value, an important consideration in these challenging times.”

Carol Emmas, Harpers

CHAMPAGNE PRODUCERS BACK TO RECORD GROWTH BY 2013

Champagne producers expect to be back to record growth by 2013, according to expert Giles Fallowfield.

Fallowfield said producers say they’ll make between 315 and 320 million bottles this year, and are estimating they’ll have made a full recovery to 340 million bottles, and be back to record new growth, by 2013.

Between 1998 and 2007 worldwide Champagne sales rose 14.6%. “Prior to the economic downturn it was becoming a real concern for Champagne that demand would soon outstrip supply,” said Fallowfield.

Fallowfield made the comments during a presentation at the Champagne Assembly, hosted by GH Mumm and Perrier-Jouet at the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green, London, on Monday.

The producing area in Champagne will expand to 34,000 ha within a couple of years, which would mean producing 400 million bottles per year, said Fallowfield.

He said the trend for rosé Champagne in the UK market – which grew by 20% between 2000 and 2006 had remained because the quality had improved.

“The Champenois have a particular forte for reinventing themselves. If they were to lose that they would become just another sparkling wine,” he added.

Experts also predicted that emerging markets will soon overtake the western world in the consumption of luxury markets. Fflur Roberts, global head of luxury goods at Euromonitor, said: “By 2014 emerging economies will have overtaken developed economies when it come to the consumption of luxury goods.

She added that they have toned down their spending on luxury goods by “consoling themselves with smaller luxury purchases, such as Champagne, in what is known as the “lipstick effect””.

“The western consumer is taking small steps back in to the luxury goods market, whereas the Asian consumer is taking huge leaps,” said Roberts.

Gemma McKenna, Harpers

CHAMPAGNE SALES SET TO SPARKLE IN AUSTRALIA

Australian consumers are being treated to considerable reductions in Champagne prices and the latest research figures suggest they are making the most of it.

According to market researchers Nielsen the average price of Champagne has fallen by over eight percent per bottle over the past two years, from $65.58 in 2008 to $60.43 for the 12 months ending September 2010.

As a result, the Champagne segment has enjoyed a 17.5 percent increase in volume sales, over the 12 months to September 2010; a significant feat given growth had been flat over the prior two years driven by the impact of the Global Financial Crisis.

According to Nielsen, this trend can be attributed to a stronger Australian dollar, lower priced retailer controlled brands and aggressive discounting.

And it is a similar story across the globe, with Champagne sales in Great Britain recording 15.5 percent volume growth, and an overall reduction in the average price per bottle – an indication of growth being driven by the lower end of the market, as well as through considerable discounting.

Implications of this trend has meant that sales for the Sparkling Wine segment (excluding
Champagne) in Australia, has decreased in volume by 1.5 percent over the 12 months to September 2010, and now sits only fractionally above sales levels of two years ago.

The decrease in sales has occurred despite a small drop in average price per bottle from $10.32 to $10.22 over this period.

Liz Watkinson, Nielsen’s Director of Liquor (Pacific), also revealed results from a recent Consumer Research study addressing the change in consumers spending habits versus a year ago.

“The research confirmed that among lower income households (less than $40,000 pa), a third of consumers who buy wine in the off-premise market have claimed to purchase less of the category versus a year ago”, she said.

“While among higher income earners (greater than $80,000 pa), over a quarter said that they had increased their frequency of purchasing wine.

“These trends are clear indicators that the Champagne segment is set to sparkle over the upcoming festive season, both for suppliers and consumers,” said Watkinson.

Andrew Starke

TOP FOUR CHAMPAGNES MOST CELLAR-WORTHY FOR 2010 by Editors of Wine Enthusiast Magazine

[of Top 100 Cellar Selections]

#6
Henriot 1996 Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut $185. With all the extreme intensity of this vintage, this wine brings even more. The start of cookie yeast and toast character, a vibrant mineral texture, hints of spice, green herbs and a final white peach flavor. It is still young, just keep aging. Imported by Henriot Inc.

#39
Moët & Chandon 1996 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque Brut $385. A magnificent Champagne, one that is light, delicate, yet packed with character. It is beautifully balanced, with a bone-dry character, just softened by the toastiness that is developing. Expect this to age for many years. Imported by Moët Hennessy USA.

#56
Bollinger 1997 RD Brut $260. Disgorged in 2009, this is a toasty wine, rich and concentrated. The idea of long aging before disgorging the yeast cells is to build up the unique complexity of the wine. In this Bollinger has succeeded magnificently. An opulent wine, with aging potential for 10 years or more. Imported by Terlato Wines International.

#98
Krug 1998 Clos du Mesnil $1,400. A wine that has created its own universe. It has a unique, special softness that allies with the total purity that comes from a small, enclosed single vineyard. The fruit is almost irrelevant here, because it comes as part of a much deeper complexity. This is a great wine, at the summit of Champagne, a sublime, unforgettable experience. Imported by Moët Hennessy USA.

Thursday, October 28th, 2010: A day to Remember – Champagne Day Around the World ** Before you pop the cork, there are a few basic rules:

• Glasses should be clean and free of any traces of detergent or rinsing agent [could cause Champagne to flatten]

• Avoid all forms of perfume, i.e., personal or room fragrance [these will interfere with the appreciation of the aromas]

• Ideal drinking temperature is [8° – 10° C] – chill the bottle for 20 minutes in an ice bucket filled with ice

• When pouring, fill the glass only two-thirds [this allows the aromas to circulate]

• Once the Champagne is poured, allow some time for it to open up

What can you see? What can you smell? What can you Taste? Champagne deserves your undivided attention. You need time to appreciate its colour, effervescence, savor its aromas and define its dominant impressions.

Colour and Appearance

Once the Champagne is poured, place a sheet of white paper behind the glass try to identify the shade.

Colours can range from: pale gold; green gold; grey gold; straw yellow; yellow gold to antique gold. For rosé Champagnes colours range from coral pink, salmon pink to deep pink.

How does the Champagne look to you? Is it limpid, sparkling or silky?

And what about the bubbles, are they: light; fine; lively; plentiful or slow?

Nose

Once the initial effervescence has subsided, bring the flute to your nose and inhale slowly, at length and then inhale again. How do you describe the aromas? Are they floral, fruity, vegetal, or does the aroma remind you of dried fruits or some other indulgent delicacy?

Floral aromas can range from rose, lime blossom, orange blossom or violet.

Fruity smells will range from grapefruit, apple, pear, quince, peach, apricot, nectarine, mango, banana, lychee, coconut, cherry or currant.

Vegetal bouquets range from almond, grass, fern, to truffle.

Dried Fruit odors range from hazelnut, raisin to dried fig.

Other indulgent delicacy aromas include butter, brioche, toast, honey, candied fruit, vanilla and various spices

Mouth

Champagne reveals its complex personality best on the palate. Try rolling the Champagne around your mouth – there is bound to be a dominant impression.

How does the Champagne feel?

Does it feel powerful, solid, comforting, smooth, light, mature, or opulent?

Now how would you describe the impression?

Is it creamy, delicate or complex?

Go ahead and enjoy what is hiding inside your flute glass – Wishing you all a Happy Global Champagne Day!