TOP CHAMPAGNES IN BUSINESS AND FIRST CLASS – announced last month at The Business Traveller Cellars in the Sky Awards

The Business Traveller Cellars in the Sky Awards have been running since 1985, with a record number of 36 airlines taking part this year. Blind tastings took place over two days on November 4 and 5 at the Grosvenor House, London, with five judges independently scoring. The judges included:

• Charles Metcalfe, TV wine presenter and co-chairman of the
International Wine Challenge;

• Sam Harrop, Master of Wine and winemaking consultant;

• Derek Smedley, Master of Wine for more than 40 years,
consultant and co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge;

• Peter McCombie, Master of Wine, accredited tutor for the Wine and
Spirit Education Trust and consultant; and

• John Worontschak, leading winemaker and wine business development
consultant.

Business Class Sparkling

1. Qatar Airways – Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle 1996;

2. Etihad – Henriot Blanc Souverain;

3. and
4. (JOINT) British Airways, Qantas and Singapore Airlines –
Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve AND LAN – Louis Roederer Brut Premier; and

5. Jet Airways – Dom Pérignon 2002.

First Class Sparkling

1. Qantas – Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1999;

2. United Airlines – Henriot Brut Millésimé 1996;

3. (JOINT) Qatar Airways, All Nippon Airways and Cathay Pacific –
Krug Grande Cuvée;

4. Thai Airways – Bollinger 1999; and

5. Malaysia Airlines and Jet Airways – Dom Pérignon 2002.

Participating Airlines:

Aer Lingus, Aegean Airlines, Air Astana, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Alitalia, American Airlines, All Nippon Airlines, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, El Al, Etihad, Emirates, Finnair, Gulf Air, Iberia, Jet Airways, Kenya Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Korean Air, LAN, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Oman Air, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Swiss, South African Airways, TAM, Thai Airways and United Airlines.

Liz Palmer

GLOBAL – Champagne sales rise in 2010

Global Champagne sales rebounded in 2010, but demand failed to surpass the levels of 2008, according to trade body Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Champagne (CIVC).

Champagne sales rose by 9% in volume to 319.5m bottles, the CIVC said today (9 February). The figure confirms a rebound in demand for the category, following a sharp drop in demand at the peak of the global financial crisis.

Global sales by value increased by 8% to EUR4bn.

The biggest Champagne houses look to have led the recovery. Champagne group Lanson-BCC said today that the Champagne houses, rather than individual producers, saw collective export volumes increase by 20% in 2010.

However, industry volumes remain below those of 2008, when volumes reached 322.5m bottles. The 2008 figure, too, represented a 5% drop on 2007 volumes.

In contrast to the excess supply of Champagne in many markets during the financial crisis, the industry could face shortages in 2011. Both Vranken-Pommery Monopole and Moet Hennessy have warned in the last couple of weeks that supplies will be tight if the sales momentum continues.

Their comments will likely put pressure on the CIVC to relax its cap on grape harvests, put in place in 2009 in order to bring supply into balance with demand.

Just Drinks

Royal Wedding – Prince William Champagne (with insider’s tasting notes)

Independent drinks manufacturer and distributor, Halewood International, has just launched Prince William Champagne to celebrate Prince William’s upcoming wedding to Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011. They will be releasing a limited edition commemorative label, using the exclusive rights it has to the ‘Prince William’ and ‘Royal Wedding’ trademarks.

Insider’s tasting notes:

“The Champagne is soft and elegant, with a biscuity aroma and generous rounded fruit flavours.”

Besides being aged for over 2 years, Prince William Champagne is made predominantly of Pinot Noir and balanced with a touch of Chardonnay.

This superior quality Champagne was selected by the Chalié Richards buying team and is produced by the BCC Group, the second largest Champagne group, which is made up of Champagne Houses Boizel, Chanoine, De Venoge, Philipponat, Bonnet and Lanson.

Prince William Champagne is expected to retail for £25 and will be distributed by Halewood’s fine wine division, Chalié Richards.

Liz Palmer

CHAMPAGNE AND CIGAR PAIRING – Celebrate!


Leaving aside, for the moment, the indisputable fact that tobacco isn’t as popular as it used to be for reasons we need not repeat here. The 21ST Century is hardly devoid of connoisseurs eager to set aflame a finely wound Cuban cigar when the right occasion arises. And what better occasion could there be but to celebrate with a Cohiba or two along with a glass of your favourite champagne this Valentine’s Day, an upcoming birthday, wedding, or any other special event throughout 2011?

But, would it surprise you that Scotch and brandy are scarcely the only types of alcoholic beverages that have a tendency to pair well with cigars?

In fact, champagne can serve as an excellent accompaniment to that set of cigars you might have been saving for one of these occasions. The reason? Evidently, according to our sources, the inherent flavour profile of tobacco would appear to have a natural affinity for being paired with white wines that sparkle; and the ethereal delicacy of many types of champagne lend themselves incredibly well to only enhancing the enjoyment of as fine a premium Cuban cigar as a Cohiba – La Línea, Clásica, Maduro, or otherwise.

More importantly, like all other premium products, there are certain recommended guidelines to follow when deciding on what specific champagne is best paired with what specific type of cigar. As a general rule, it would stand to reason that lighter-styled champagnes, or ones with a greater focus on finesse and style than richness and intensity, ought to be paired with cigars of a more delicate and elegant disposition, perhaps even a cigar of smaller size. Alternatively, for more powerful types of champagne (from top cuvées to the most prestigious vintages) your best bet would be probably to seek out cigars with greater assertiveness and longevity, not to mention ones boasting a larger dimension. If you have a few champagne and cigar-loving friends to share these with, so much the better!