Drinking Well Episode 6: Champagne


Drinking Well is the podcast designed to help you enjoy and shape your wine collection. In our first series, you’ll hear from our expert Buyers and Account Managers as they discuss which vintages to withdraw from your cellar this year. We also explore the most exciting developments in key fine wine regions, as well as revealing our team’s favourite wines and producers. 

For the final episode of season one, we discuss the pleasures of Champagne with Buyer Davy Żyw and Account Manager Tatiana Humphreys. From which vintages you should be opening to which producers to watch out for, you’ll hear expert advice to help you get the most from your Champagne collection. 

Discover Davy and Tatiana’s favourite producers and vintages  

Do you remember that first bottle of Champagne you drank that gave you that “eureka” moment? 

Davy I remember it like it was yesterday, although it was well over 15 years ago. Just before I moved to France, I was thrown a surprise party.  My sommelier friend commandeered a bottle of Dom Pérignon 1996. I’d never tasted anything like it before. 

I think I drank it from a mug, but the effect it had on me was profound. I remember getting goosebumps. That was the sip of Champagne that propelled a career in the wine industry. 

Tatiana When I worked in the London Shop, we’d taste a wine on a Friday. On one occasion, the Shop Manager Edwin Dublin opened a bottle of Val Vilaine, which is made by Domaine Cedric Bouchard under the Roses de Jeanne label. It was eye-opening to try something that was made from a single grape and a single vineyard. It was when I realised that there’s so much more to Champagne than I originally thought. 

Which Champagne producers are doing the most exciting things? 

Davy There are so many amazing new voices in the region such as Domaine Cedric Bouchard: my goodness, those wines are exceptional. He’s in the “dirty south” of Champagne, which is closer to Chablis then Reims. This area is producing wines of such tension, expression and vinous character.  

I’m also a huge fan of the wines of Domaine Pierre Péters. They produce very raw, mineral styles that are always 100% Chardonnay. This year, we’ll be releasing the ’14, which I’m really looking forward to.  

Tatiana I’d think Leclerc Briant is a fantastic producer. They’re an organic, biodynamic estate run by Hervé Justin (a winemaking consultant for all the big Champagne houses). But the wines he makes with Leclerc Briant are so precise, elegant and have a lovely saline finish. 

Which Champagne vintages should collectors look to secure for their cellars? 

Tatiana Collectors are lucky with Champagne: there are lots of vintages which have received very high critic scores which would be great for long-term cellaring. For example: ’02, ’04, ’06, ’08 and ’12.  

I really like ’05 and ’07, but if you’re looking to build a collection with the crème de la crème, a key vintage is ’08. The level of interest and buzz around ’08 is something I haven’t seen with many other vintages. It has this acidity and freshness, with huge amounts of concentration and depth. 

Davy I’m a huge fan of ’13 which is the current release of a few prestige cuvées. It was a slightly cooler, fresher year so the wines have incredible energy and tension, but not without complexity and concentration. I think these wines are going to age beautifully – I’ve got some ’13 in my cellar. 

For more tips and insights from Davy and Tatiana, you can listen to the complete episode of Drinking Well here.