Champagne hasn’t exactly been an outcast over the last few hundreds years, but it has been slightly unfashionable during the recession of the last couple. This is mainly because it’s perceived by the majority of the crowd as a “rich man’s drink". By the time I’d finished chatting with Peter McKinley of McKinley Vintners distributors, I was convinced that the new ‘in thing’ with high champagne was quality at reasonable cost. But is it even possible? Be very assured it is.
Cosy in a corner of Fortnum and Mason wine bar, I felt I should be the envy of all, tickled pink by the French-based Gosset Grand Rose I was sipping, whilst Peter sipped a Gosset Grande Reserve. While enjoying each bubbly swill, it was carefully explained to me that the intention of Gosset champagne is to be drunk properly WITH a meal, unlike most champagnes which are normally drunk as a celebratory gesture or with a starter. Need I remind you that old is very, very good. In fact, antique is how I would describe it, and we all know what antiques are worth nowadays.
Gosset Champagne house was the first house to be recognised as a wine maker 400-odd years ago. It’s also a family business and the Gosset Company is privately owned, which basically means that the overall ethos isn’t driven by sales but by producing an excellent product.
Fluid: What is the underlying philosophy behind Gosset Champagne?
PM: “Bankers are slagged off for spending too much money on champagne, and so champagne is too often regarded as a symbol of wealth. Champagne in fact is a wine, and some still wines are in fact ten times more expensive than champagne. Where Gosset is concerned, the point is to make wine that is sparkly; we want people to think ‘Wow, that is delicious! I expected to pay way more for that!’"
Fluid: What is your favourite restaurant in London that serves Gosset Champagne?
PM: “My favourite restaurant is always the restaurant I have eaten most recently at. That’s because the memory is freshest in my mind. So, in saying that, this week it would have to be Cumberland in Marble Arch."
So, where else can we source this beautiful fluid? Searcy’s - who created the Champagne Bar at St. Pancras Station – stock it. A nice excuse for an after work spritz. But wait, there’s more: You’re in for a goodie with Gordie because with a knack for finding quality product that is not overpriced, it’s no surprise that Ramsay offers Gosset Champagne at his restaurants. Gosset also features at Texture, Rhodes 24, Le Gavroche, and, outside of London, at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck.
So what’s the big thing for 2010? Peter tells me it’s the Gosset Grande Reserve, which is not only his favourite, but has already won the Grappe D’or (the golden grape), meaning it’s essentially the winner of the winners. Go Gosset!
Check out Fluid’s guide to the Top 10 Champagne Bars & Restaurants in London.
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