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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