So here I am, with three bottles and three glasses in front of me and a plate of six oysters for starters, to be followed shortly by a homemade platter of fish and chips by my own fair hand. I’m by myself, or rather, it’s just me and some classical tunes from the radio. But I’m no lush, I’ve got friends coming tomorrow, so will keep it to a glass from each then cork the bottles for sharing.
Let’s start with Bonville shall we?
Champagne Franck Bonville, Blanc de Blancs, NV is retailing at £28.99 with Cadman (pug, plug), and is a wine with all the class and pedigree of many more famous Champagne labels, without the weighty price-tag
In fact, Bonville makes some of the best Champagne that I have ever tasted, including the likes of Cristal, Bollinger and Veuve Clicquot. Part of the reason for this is that it genuinely does make great Champagne, secondly because of the value-for-money it offers, and thirdly because this value means that I have shared it with good friends and family over the years rather than the more famous labels that often go with business/corporate entertaining. It is also a label that the French public really go for, a testament to its quality, rather than going on name alone, and so rarely reaches our UK shores.
Now for the wine. It has a lovely fine bead of bubbles streaming through its golden centre. Nice appley nose with some stone fruit also present. In the mouth it’s smooth and creamy, but with a nice steely backbone to balance. I can now say from first hand experience that it’s a real winner with oysters, and will be a great sip with the fish and chips when they come.
And now for the Bolly darling…
Bollinger’s Special Cuvée NV is retailing at £33.50 with Cadman Fine Wines. Bollinger dates back to some time in the 19th century, being established by Jacques Bollinger and Paul Renaudin, and despite being a global brand, still remains under the control of the wider family. It’s synonymous with rich, complex, classic Pinot Noir dominated Champagnes with great aging potential and about three quarters of the contents of my glass in front of me yields from grapes grown in Bollinger’s own vineyards.
The Special Cuvee has hints of pears and nuts on the nose. I’m getting hazelnuts I think. This theme continues in the mouth, with a deep, rich core of fruit, wonderful texture and almost oxidative style. For the label, for the price, for the quality, this is hard to beat.
Zucchetto’s Prosecco to finish (well, start still, but whatever)
Now, I know, I really should have started with the Prosecco, but I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the other two wines. But that is not to detract from this wonderful 2013 vintage from Zucchetto.
Prosecco is a great aperitif wine and a great alternative to Champagne. Over the years it’s quality and popularity have soared and, for me, it’s easy to see why with small, quality-focused producers like Zucchetto which has dubbed itself as the biggest little Prosecco winery of the region. Looking at pictures of the estate, it is simply stunning – with views over the ancient town of Valdobbiadene and surrounding hills – I’ve made a mental note to include it on a future tasting trip.
It has a lovely lifted, citrusy, almost sherberty nose with hints of green apple. Lovely, delicate mouthfeel. Creamy, yet refreshing with a touch of sea salt minerality. I honestly can’t believe we’re retailing it for under £15 a bottle.
As for a winner. They all are in their class. The only real challenge is not to have another glass of each with my main course, maybe just a third of a glass each…