The Handbook
The Handbook

We’ve gone from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay alert’, and nothing makes you alert like alcohol (disclaimer: I’m no scientist or, you’ll be pleased to hear, a surgeon, airline pilot etc etc). But the government appear to believe we’re past the worst of the Coronavirus outbreak, and we are starting the long haul toward ‘opening up’. As each stage beckons so does a chilled glass of bubbles. So here’s to the end of lockdown (whenever that is…)

Nyetimber Classic Cuvee MV, Cuvee Chérie and 1086 Rosé 2010

English sparkling wine has come ridiculously far in the last decade. And out in front of the pack in terms of consistent mass production combined with great wine making are Nyetimber.

Covering price points for most wallets, the Classic Cuvee is ideal for serving at a socially distant picnic, or serve a bottle of Cuvee Chérie at your first family get together, and for a real ‘back to normal’ celebration, whenever that is, the 2010 vintage 1086 Rosé has been tried and tested by yours truly, and it was a real treat. Silky, crystalline and at £175 a bottle a very special wine for a special moment.

Classic Cuvee MV – £27 per bottle
Cuvee Chérie – £37.99 per bottle
1086 Rosé 2010 – £175 per bottle
Find: www.waitrose.com

Pol Roger

Churchill won the war powered mainly by Cuban cigars and Pol Roger,  we’re unsure if Downing Street ordered in cases of the stuff before the virus struck but it might well have helped.

This is a Champagne of heroes, so why not get some on ice to drink to the many heroes we’ve encountered over the last few weeks.

Relatively affordable and with a perfect-amount-of-yeasty taste, it’s elegant.

£34 per bottle
Find: www.waitrose.com

Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé

As we slowly and blinkingly emerge from house-arrest the one thing we’re looking forward to is sitting outside in the glaring sun. As the nation fires up its collective barbecue, an ideal accompaniment to the weather is a bottle of Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé.

A blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, look forward to strawberry and raspberry aromas with earthy notes of spice and honey and the colour of the wine is a lovely salmon pink.

Founded in 1811, the Champagne house has been associated with the arts since their collaboration with Émile Gallé in 1902. The artist’s iconic flowers make an appearance on the label of the Blason, which, in turn, gets its name from the ‘Blason de France’ range, created by the House in 1956 and blending 50 different vins clairs from across the Champagne house’s vineyards.

Given how much the arts have been hit by coronavirus maybe you could order a bottle for an artist, actor, musician or comedian in your life?

£60.95 per bottle
FIND: www.thewhiskyexchange.com

Squerryes

In 2004 a French Champagne house approached Sussex farmer Henry Warde and offered to buy his North Downs chalky farmland. Identifying it as the perfect spot for replicating Champagne’s unique characteristics.

Politely refusing them, Warde himself then planted vines and sixteen years later Squerryes is one of the most exciting English sparkling wines.

The Vintage Brut 2014 is a wonderful example of English Sparkling wine, grown in the North Downs and the nose gives off hints of green apple, summer meadows and freshly baked bread.

£32 per bottle
Website: www.squerryes.co.uk

Champagne Barons de Rothschild Brut NV

A relatively recent marque, in Champagne-ing terms, Champagne Barons de Rothschild came together in a Power-Rangers style coming together of three Rothschilds ‘barons’ to create a Champagne that feels like it’s got far more heritage behind it.

The non-vintage Champagne Barons de Rothschild Brut offers notes of pear, red apple, nectarine, lemon peel, smoke almond, orchard blossom, buttery pastry and, our old friend. freshly baked bread.

£56 per bottle
Website: www.harveynichols.com

Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut (From Aldi!)

Being able to go to a garden centre again isn’t exactly a ‘kill the fattened calf’ style celebration. But it is an Aldi Champagne moment. In fact even the slightest change, from lockdown openings to completing the quick crossword, is an Aldi Champagne celebration because it’s just so affordable.

Just £12 a bottle (the price has quietly and steadily crept up £10), Champagne Monsigny Brut is not only cheap but highly drinkable. Created by the wonderfully named Philizot & Fils it’s really tasty and really cheap.

£12 per bottle
Website: www.aldi.co.uk

Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve

They serve Hattingley’s sparkling wine in BA’s first class. Given this is about as close as you’re going to get to a flight in the near-to-medium term, get a case of Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve in and let’s just pretend.

A brilliant, appley, nougaty number and the wine is really good, and what’s more it doesn’t require a 14 day quarantine after drinking.

£30 per bottle
Website: www.hattingleyvalley.com

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