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    Bollinger Special Cuvee is undoubtedly one of the finest non vintage champagnes available. The house of Bollinger is family owned with the current owners being direct descendents of the original Jacques Bollinger.

    It is Bollingers unique practises in the making of their champagne that make all the difference, they still use treasured old oak casks to ferment their reserve wines as well as a proportion of the cuvees that make it into Special Cuvee. Two thirds of the grapes come from Bollingers own vineyards. This allows them to keep close control over the quality of the fruit that makes the wine.

    The reserve wines that are added to the non vintage blend are aged in magnums under cork and have to be disgorged by hand. It is practices such as this that ensure the quality but also restrict production so that whilst rightly famous Bollinger remains a relatively small producer.

    Now there are many fine times to enjoy champagne and many fine foods that it will accompany but for me the best match for Bollinger Special Cuvee is good Fish & Chips! Its the ying and yang of an expensive wine with a relatively inexpensive dish or maybe it’s simply that both are real treats. But I do know that if you can find a good spot on a sea wall to eat your fish and chips whilst drinking your ‘Bolly’ you will not be able to wipe the smile from your face.

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    If you are in any doubt about this Champagne then be reassured that it is owned by the Bollinger group and in wine maker Caroline Latrive has one of the rising stars of the industry. Chef Gordon Ramsey likes it so much that for many years it has been his House Champagne in his Michelin star restaurants.  Ayala was one of the first houses to get behind the current vogue for low dosage champagnes with this wine only having a dosage of 7 grams per litre about half the dosage used by the big commercial brands. This low dosage means you must have immaculate fruit and good wine making skills because sugar is the make up used to cover minor flaws in bigger blends.

    Ayala are based in the village of Ay near Epernay as are Bollinger they source much of their fruit from Grand Cru vineyards, they also age their wines for a minimum of three years before release meaning that the flavours are well balanced and the acidity integrated into the wine.

    So if you are looking for an excellent Champagne that won’t break the bank but will deliver real pleasure then this wine is perfect.

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    This is a multi vintage blend of  single varietal Champagne from a small family producer in the South of the region.  They specialise in Pinot Noir and practise organic production as much as possible. The use of Pinot Noir gives this wine considerable backbone but as the wine undergoes Malolactic fermentation this results in a soft creamy mouthfeel. Fluteau may not be a familiar name but the Champagne is quite excellent and well worth discovering.

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    the cuvée presents precious green-gold glints. The effervescence is abundant and the thin and fast bubbles flow into an attractive white cord.
    The first nose brings out a floral and vegetal bouquet. Citrus and cereal notes come gradually out in addition to the fresh and elegant
    flavours. The nose is fine and delicate, with youthfulness and temperance.
    the attack is fresh and harmonious with a gentle, enticing acidity. The effervescence reinforces the freshness and galvanizes the taste
    As the wine temperature rises it develops a soft, almost velvety texture. Added to all of these tastes are hints of marshmallow and almond that
    give the cuvée a real distinctness. A signature cuvée from Janisson & Fils, an essential champagne for your aperitifs with friends
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    A small family producer from the village of Ay.  They are neighbours to Bollinger and like Bollinger produce Champagnes with Pinot Noir dominated blends. The grapes for this wine come only from Grand Cru vineyards which are the very best vineyards in the region. It has a lovely full vinous style thanks to the Pinot Noir and a long complex finish. It has become our ‘House Champagne’ and I cant recommend it enough as a great value, consistent wine.

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    Charles Heidsieck have proven themselves one of the most consisitent of houses over the last few years winning award after award.  Having spent 10 years working for Bollinger I have a certain allegiance to them but even I have to admit to a growing love of this house and its excellent wines.

    Tasting Notes

    Radiant pale gold with fine, persistent bubbles. Complex pastry aromas, with an opulent combination of ripe apricot, mango and greengages, dried fruits, pistachio and almond. The palate begins with a silky smooth sensation, developing into ripe fleshy apricot, melon and enticing plum pastry notes and delicate spice. A perfect balance of freshness and generosity.

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    Pale lemon gold with an explosive nose. Lovely flavours of apricot, peach and acacia blossom give way to an elegance and freshness balancing perfectly the richness of the grape.

    Domaine Gayda is an exciting project in the South of France that has British backers and the property features a Wine School, Luxury Accommodation and a restaurant

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    Les Oliviers Merlot Mourvedre

    From the warm vineyards of the Languedoc comes this absolute stormer of a wine. I love finding wines that I know I can just sit with a large glass of with a good book or zonked out in front of the TV and they will just evaporate. Perfect mid –week wine, screwtop bottle so those of you with will power can just enjoy a good glass and savour another the next night.

    I can do no better in describing this wine than use the shipper’s tasting notes.

    ‘A wine of real presence and character named after the olive groves, ‘oliviers’ that flourish around the sun-drenched vineyards of southern France.  Grapes come from two separate plots of Merlot and Mourvèdre to produce this lusciously fruity red wine with a slightly wild edge. The intense red berry fruit aromas are backed up by a touch of pepper. A supple palate with smooth integrated tannins, lead to a rich satisfying finish.’

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    Grapes for this wine are partly taken from the estate’s high altitude (400m) Peyroli vineyard and partly from the growers with whom winemaker Géraud Blanc has long-term purchasing partnerships.

    Vintage information

    2013 saw the coolest May in 20 years, a fresh June and a hot July: an exceptional climate for the vintage. Flowering was 15 days later than average. Water reserves remained sufficient throughout the summer until harvest which began in early September. The grapes were characterised by high acidity but lower sugars than usual, with very interesting aromatic potential. The wines of this vintage are promising, bright white wines with excellent balance.


    After settling the must for 12 hours, the fermentation was carried out in stainless steel, at 15°C for 12 days. Yeasts normally used in Champagne were selected to maximise the fine, elegant Chardonnay aromas. No malolactic fermentation was carried out in order to preserve the natural freshness and acidity. The wine was given the lightest filtration which kept its body and fruit character. No oak was used at all, in keeping with the purity and precision inspired by Chablis.

    Tasting Notes

    Bright golden yellow in colour, this wine has a lovely, expressive nose. Rich and full of peach and apricot aromas with touches of tropical notes. The palate shows delicate acidity and a smooth texture.

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    This is a sparkling wine made by the Traditional method unsurprising as the founders of the company are both Champagne producers in their own right and this expertise shines through in the quality of this wine. It is a delicious blend of white grapes to give a wine of creamy intensity that is very drinkable on its own and far better value than some cheap supermarket Champagne.

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    Réserve de Fleur has a clear, intense, red colour and aromas of black and red currant. The wine is youthful and fresh, with ripe, clean, bright fruit, backed up by the structure of delicate tannins. Flavours of pepper and spice make it perfect with game stews, Mediterranean sausages, pasta or cheese fondue. The wine is presented in a screwtop bottle.