Tag Archive for: champagne

I could literally chew all of my nails to the quick, such is my anticipation of this year’s English wine harvest to arrive.

It’s pleasing to know that the UK in its entirety has had a summer of unprecedented good weather.  Even my web-footed friends from the rainy plains of Enniskillen, NI were pinching themselves as the mercury continued to rise to record levels.  Now that’s saying something!

For those of us living in the southern counties, the temperatures have, at times, been exhausting.  At Hannibal Brown HQ, our wines are kept cool and out of harm’s way.  Us humans, on the other hand, had the tricky choice of office air-con installation or simply lifting the foot off the red hot pedal a little – we chose the latter and allowed ourselves the pleasure of enjoying summer 2018.  (And in any case, the air-con systems were all sold out!)

England’s vineyards

Vines, like us humans, love extended periods of sunshine and warmth.  Grapes being grown for English sparkling wines in particular are thriving this year.  Compared to the Champagne region of France, England normally produces about a third of the wine grape crop – this year, there are suggestions that we could be on course for matching the Champagne level.  Ripening has been even and consistent since bud burst and if things remain as they are forecast (more sun, more heat), 2018 could yet prove to be the best wine harvest on record.

Of course, you never know with the British weather… a quick dose of hail in August or an angry tornado ripping through the Surrey Hills could put paid to everything.  So if ever there was a moment to call upon the good will of ‘Him upstairs’, now is the time.  Come on everyone, let’s drop to our knees and give ol’ Blighty a vintage to remember!


I woke this morning to the not-so-very delicate tones of Chris Evans, broadcasting to the world through Radio 2 that it was the anniversary of the creation of Champagne by famed monk star, Dom Perignon.  Naturally, I was intrigued as to how anyone could set a date on this event.  Once properly awake, I realised how foolish I’d been to even contemplate Evans’s statement.

Dom Perignon Monk


Fact is that no-one knows the exact date of the event and whilst Dom Perignon is recognised for being the monk that invented Champagne, it’s highly likely that bubbly was around well before DP came on the scene.

What is true though is that DP did refine the technique of producing white bubbles from red grapes, a practice that continues today with over half of Champagne made from red (or black) Pinot Noir grapes.

But poor old DP spent most of his time trying to rid his wines of bubbles, his concern being an unwelcome secondary fermentation.  Thankfully, he failed in this respect and today we enjoy the fruits of his failures.

Indeed, before bubbles were on the scene, the Romans were producing vast quantities of flat wine from that region.  Dom Perignon himself was creditted for his efforts in helping the Abbey of Hautvillers double it s production during his cellar-mastership.


There are many different producers of Champagne, Cava and Prosecco, but what is the difference? 

Difference No. 1

Prosecco is from Italy, Champagne is from France and Cava is from Spain.


Difference No. 2

Prosecco is a Grape, Champagne is a Region and Cava is a ‘Denominacion de Origen’ (see my blog entry about the meaning of  AOC as that is the French equivalent).

Difference No. 3

Champagne is really expensive.

Difference No. 4

Both Champagne and Cava are made using ‘Champenoise traditional method’ and the bubbles are generated as a result of a second fermentation which occurs in the bottle once it is corked.  Prosecco, on the other hand, undergoes its second fermentation in the tank and is bottled afterwards.

So, do I keep it safe or can I drink it?

Champagne and Cava alike can be laid down for some time, but only if they are ‘Vintage’, ‘Non-Vintage’ (NV) should be drunk young.  The good news about Prosecco is it’s made to be drunk young, so get stuck in!  In fact in Italy they sell it in cans just like coke or lemonade.

I hope you fell a little more enlightened about the differences and enjoy your bubbles all the more with your new found knowledge!

Congratulations to Mr L of Raynes Park, who, by signing up with Hannibal Brown, won himself a fabulous bottle of Pommery ‘Apanage’ Brut Rose NV (value £54).

100060 - Pommery Apanage Rose

Check out how you too can benefit by signing up to Hannibal Brown today and becoming an Explorer of Great Wine!

Pommery Apanage Rose Brut NV – a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier,  fresh and elegant with rich, well-structured flavours of delicate red berries and wild strawberry.  Check out Hannibal’s sparkling wine range here.