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Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin Brut

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Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends.
Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends.

One of my late dad’s stock lines was “Fornication [for an occasion] like this, we need Champagne”.  We weren’t celebrating anything in particular yesterday, but decided that Veuve was an appropriate way to start the day anyway.

Is it helpful to compare Champagne to Cap Classique? For the first time in the Amorim Cork Cap Classique Challenge’s nine-year history, the 2010 panel featured two international judges, namely Hervé Dantan, chef de cave of Champagne Mailly Grand Cru, and Nicolas Follet of Oenosense Consulting based in Reims, France.

If the motivation for including Dantan and Follet was to ensure that the merits of specialist offerings from independent producers would not be overlooked, then this quite frankly did not work out, South Africa’s largest producer-wholesaler Distell taking two of the four awards on offer, Pongrácz Brut emerging as best non-vintage and Pongrácz Rosé best Rosé. The Pongrácz label gets derided as being “commercial” but it’s nothing if not reliable so good luck to all those involved in putting it together.

Another producer-wholesaler The Company of Wine People, not exactly well known for quality bubbly, also featured, its Kumkani Infiniti Brut 2004 winning best vintage, while the only successful independent  was Bon Courage, its Jacques Bruére 2007 being judged best Blanc de Blancs and best overall. Expect further amendments to the judging process in 2011.

Champagne aficionados tend to look down on Veuve “Yellow Label” for the same reason that some consider Pongrácz infra dig in a Cap Classique context. Drinking it yesterday, we marveled at its poise, and fantasized about living lives where it featured more regularly.

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