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Rue des Vignes 10200 Urville – France | Tel:+33 (0)3 25 27 40 15
Our Wine Pick | Drappier Brut Nature Rosé
Take the cling-cling-cling of a flute being tapped, or pop pop pop popping in the club, and you know what time it is, right? Needless to say, there’s always a good reason to drink Champagne. It’s the ultimate in celebratory beverages, and is practically a given at major life milestones, from 21st birthdays to graduations and weddings. On Thursday last week, we headed to Champagne Drappier, a Champagne House (Maison for the sake of fancy), for the sole reason of tasting Champagne.
Located in the little Champagne village of Urville, the family cellars of Champagne Drappier date back to 1152. Headed by Monsieur Michel Drappier, a frisky 80-year-old fella, the Maison thrives in a dominantly Pinot Noir-growing region of Champagne, meaning most of their wines are Pinot-Noir heavy. Drappier’s selection was tasty, and very well priced considering the fact that this was the legit stuff. Yet, having grown up in South Africa, we were eager to find out – what makes Champagne so special?
For a long time, we were mystified by the fact that sometimes you’re drinking Champagne, and other times you’re drinking Méthode Cap Classique, Cava or Sparkling Wine. Aren’t they all the SAME thing?
Technically speaking: YES. However, this is where the wine world will assemble in an uproar against us, as there are many (many a many) arguments about why they’re NOT the same thing. We won’t bore you with a detailed account of the champagne production process (this is something we had to learn and find pretty interesting, but you can certainly enjoy a glass of bubbly without having an in-depth understanding of the merits of hand riddling vs. gyropalettes).
Basically, what you need to know is that there are a number of ways to coax those glorious bubbles into a bottle of wine, but the original method pioneered by the French has been upheld for centuries as the gold standard – and France isn’t about to let anyone forget. Indeed, the claim to this method – the méthode champenoise – is so jealously guarded that France has ensured, through international treaties and the like, that there are serious legal consequences for anyone outside of the Champagne region who dares to slap its hallowed name onto their bottle of bubbly. We guess they invented the stuff, so fair enough!
So is Champagne better than the plethora of other sparkling wines the world has to offer? To be completely honest, we don’t know. We will probably never know. We haven’t had the privilege (or cash dolla dolla) to sample all the top Champagnes, nor have we tasted the finest MCCs (that’s Méthode Cap Classique, the South African sparkling wine made according to the Champagne method). The French would insist that nowhere in the world produces sparkling wine as sublime as Champagne, but let’s not be naive to the fact that they have a fairly lucrative reason to promote that belief (not hatin’, just sayin’ – and may it be known without doubt that we really do think Champagne is magnificent).
After visiting a bonafide Champagne house, what do we know? Champagne does have a certain magic to it – whether that has more to do with the delicate, biscuity, butterscotchy taste, or if it’s the experience of wandering around ancient underground cellars with history practically seeping from the walls (or was that mould?). The other thing we’re sure of is that even if you can’t get ahold of a reasonably-priced bottle of the “real deal”, the MCC we’ve had back home is pretty top notch as well. So wherever you are, find a reason to celebrate (even if it’s just finding that cash you thought you lost in the sofa crack) and enjoy a flute of bubbly heaven.