I have just returned from Champagne visiting the team of 'My Man In Champagne', a new PR and marketing business set-up in the heart of the Grand Cru Champagne producing area of Verzy.  The team, led by Jiles Halling is taking a very dynamic approach to a very unsung area of the fine Champagne market.

Concentrating on Grower Champagne's (wines produced by smaller Champagne Houses), Jiles and the team at MMIC are about to expose some delightful truths.  These are namely that much of the really good Champagne wine produced in the region never touches our lips.  Add to that the fact that we are too obsessed with big labels and being so dims our view.  Although many of the big famous brands do offer wonderful quality and a consistent house style, this is often easily matched and often surpassed by a number of smaller producers putting a great deal of effort into a far smaller yield.

Whilst in Champagne, MMIC Operations Director, Edmund Sherman treated us to a tour of Reims and a stop off at a local Champagne bar.  The focus remained resolutely "grower Champagne" and my gaze was corrected when it drifted to a larger producer.  One of the joys of the visit to Champagne was the choice in the styles of wines on offer.  Given that one cannot be expected to know in advance what these wines are going to taste like, the fun very much resides in the adventure of tasting as many as possible.  One wine that really stuck in my mind was the 2005 Grand Cru from Penet-Chardonnet.  A deliciously fruity nose and very fine acidity made my spirits very effervescent indeed!  The day before Penet-Chardonnet owner, Alexandre offered a taste test showing two wines with different dosage (dosage referring to the amount of sugar added to the wine to affect sweetness).  The first wine was not quite ready for release and was especially tart.  The dosage was evidently low but something about it really caught the imagination.  All I could think of was platters of oysters and langoustines.  After that we were given another unmarked bottle and asked to comment on the differences and say which we preferred. This second wine was certainly rounder and immediately offered more descriptive possibilities (I'll save you the deluge of notes, flavours, components and colours).  The difference between the two wines was that the second bottle had 4 grammes of sugar added and the former had no sugar at all.  At first dosage seems to do the wine the world of good where approachability is concerned but then after a while I couldn't help thinking about the first wine and the dreams of food it conjured in my mind.  Different wines for different times!

All in all a great trip and one I would encourage everyone to take.  Champagne is not far away and offers a world of adventure for those who are bubbly minded!  Keep a look out for My Man In Champagne that will be launching very soon.


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COPOUT Book by Nick Breeze

Climate change podcast

Last week a picture was posted on Twitter of vines in Shabo, a large estate that lies to the west of Odesa on southern Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline. The image seemed benign at face value but the reality, of course, is that the city of Odesa has been bracing itself for attack by Russian forces. 


As COVID-19 conspires with the grimmest of winds and rain to force a societal retreat behind our own front doors, the word ennui springs to mind. The muddle of displeasure is pierced when Natalia hands me a large bulbous glass of a liquid I do not recognise.



Britain’s lamentable exit

On the eve of Britain’s official departure from the EU, my partner and I decided to explore a small town on the Italian Riviera where thewintry cold doesn’t feel so much like cold war bite.

I had warned my significant other that I would be having an inverse departure party, a release of the sanity valve if you like!


Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.


Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.


The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.


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