At 4 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon a group of media and hospitality professionals are gathered at Novotel Hotel, Mumbai for the tasting of a newly introduced champagne brand. Jean-Noel Girard, International Sales Director, Champagne Devaux is about to present the three champagnes from ‘D’s collection when he observes a growing chatter in the room. It’s about the white wine glasses placed in front of the guests for the tasting. He admits, “I am about to break some of the rules that the ‘champagne police’ would otherwise guard with utmost care”. For the guests, his approach is refreshingly new and far from being intimidating.
Why does champagne disseminate such an enigmatic aura? The fact that Champagne is synonymous with celebration and very often typecast as a drink of the elite-imagine a gathering of middle-aged wealthy beings at an upper-crust event or an exclusive brunch-limits the drink as a category. And, that’s the kind of image that the champagne producers are anxiously attempting to shrug off.
The growing popularity and acceptability of prosecco and other sparkling wines worldwide have also put the champagne producers in a dilemma. Prosecco or any other sparkling wine is easy drinking comes with less baggage, light on pocket and reaches out to a wider consumer base. No wonder the prosecco boom in U.S in last few years have began to unease the champagne producers.
Back home, in India, the lavish Punjabi and Sindhi wedding reception’s that once served a popular champagne brand are today shifting to either the same brand’s Indian made sparkling wine or to champagne’s Italian cousin prosecco. Champagne, perhaps, is the only drink that comes with a list of do’s and don’ts. From defending the use of the term ‘méthode champenoise’ for production to suggesting an ideal occasion to open a bottle of champagne for consumption, the rulebook is heavy. To enjoy the bubbly, a champagne drinker is expected to follow certain demureness. However, interestingly, when it comes to the use of glassware, champagne has taken a more liberal approach. From coupe to flute to tulipthe rules have been tailored to suit the mood, the occasion and the market demand. Many champagne houses are starting to use regular white wine glasses for tastings. As Elise Losfelt, a sixth-generation winemaker and one of ten for Moët & Chandon rightly says in an interview to an international website, “The flute has a shape of celebration, and it’s pretty, but it’s really narrow so you can’t swirl the wine. The shape doesn’t let the aromas rise out of the glass. You don’t even get the aromas while you taste because you have to tilt your head backwards, and the Champagne touches the bottom of your mouth, never the front of your tongue. Out of a flute, you have the bubbles but nothing else. In a white wine glass, you have a shape that lets you enjoy both the texture and the aroma.”
In case of expensive, vintage champagnes where aroma plays a very important part, flute is a wrong choice. The regular wine glass with the bowl and larger opening allows more oxygen to enter the wine, and therefore more aromas to be released. “However, the choice is personal, if you want to enjoy the bubbly carbonation, stick to flutes but if you are about to open a bottle of champagne Devaux, please appreciate the wine’s aromas and flavours and go for a regular white wine glass instead”, says Girard as we pick up our first glass for tasting. What’s so special about Devaux? Jean likes to describe Devaux as a cool, chilled out, friendly beverage brand with a greater appeal to the youth. Though, it’s Devaux’s complexity that makes it stand out from its peers. Devaux follows a very long ageing, between 3-5 years on lees. Comes from the selective parcel of vineyard (100 hectares) and has a production of just about 700,000 bottles. Easy drinking champagne by style with an attractive packaging. From ‘D’s collection, ‘Ultra D’ (Rs 3200), ‘D Rose’ (Rs 3975) and ‘Cuvee D’ (Rs 3200) are available at duty free outlets in India at the moment. The champagnes are produced with the blend of pinot noir from Cote des Bar and chardonnay from Cote des Blancs and Montgueux region in Champagne. Devaux understands the pulse of the market, it follows the trend and is eager to adapt. And we can only hope that more champagne brands follow suit. As the session comes to an end, Girard rightly concludes, “Don’t wait for a special moment to open a bottle of champagne, open it and it will make the moment special”.
The article originally featured here – See more at: http://www.allaboutdaru.com/blog.aspx?ID=47/Classy-or-Cool!-The-Champagne-Dilemma#sthash.EM6S6CiV.dpuf