Our United Kingdom Cuvée
Author: Geordie Willis
If you were ever to happen across a dusty copy of the Autumn 1955 issue of our Number Three magazine, you might find the following description of our own-label United Kingdom Cuvée Champagne (affectionately known to all as “UKC”):
“This is a dry wine which can be most strongly recommended for parties, wedding receptions and similar functions. It is, however, much superior to most of the so-called ‘Party Champagnes’ that are often offered at very low prices and which normally have little to recommend them except their cheapness.”
The article does not divulge which houses were the providers of these sub-par social lubricants, but I suspect that a modern audience will recognise them from many a drinks party or gallery opening. The surprising truth is that one does not need to pay the earth for good quality Champagne. Apart from selling the wines of the famous shippers, British wine merchants have always shipped and sold Champagne under their own special brand name and label. These ‘own label’ wines can be offered at lower prices than the Grandes Marques while still offering tremendous quality.
Grand Cru pedigree
Our United Kingdom Cuvée (so-called because it was a cuvée created for the United Kingdom and not to be confused with English sparkling wine) is sourced from the prestigious Grand Cru village of Mailly, located at the heart of the Montagne de Reims. Benefiting from over three years’ ageing, the wine is a classic blend of 75 percent Pinot Noir and 25 percent Chardonnay. It’s a non-vintage style, which simply means the wines in the blend are from a number of different vintages (this provides a consistent style year on year). All the hallmarks of a Grand Cru are found alongside what we believe is a genuine sense of place. While there will always be a market for the “Party Champagnes” mentioned above, we think that the greatest wines express a recognisable terroir and a sense of identity. This should be no different with Champagne.
Start as you mean to go on
If you are ever invited to lunch or dinner at No.3 St James’s Street there is every likelihood that you will be served UKC on arrival. It is, we believe, the perfect aperitif, with freshly baked brioche and flowers on the nose, followed by lemon grass, gingerbread and honeysuckle on the palette. It is the ideal precursor to any meal and will whet the appetite for whatever vinous offerings are to follow, whether that’s a first growth or a bottle of Good Ordinary Claret.
You can find out more about our Own Selection Champagne here