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The appellation of champagne has strict rules, both in what grapes are used and its production methods, all leading to the drive for perfection and the class and style all people expect from this famous and unique sparkling wine. Alexander Hadleigh Wine Merchants, Southampton, Hampshire, UK list champagne from all the great properties, including Brut Champagne, Ultra Brut Champagne, Demi-Sec Champagne, Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Rose Champagne and Vintage Champagne.

The principle grape varieties used for making champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and must be grown within the Champagne designated areas. "Methode Champenoise" is the only way champagne can be made and after the first fermentation and bottling, a second fermentaion takes place in the bottle via the help of a small dose of sugar. After aging in the bottle a process of remuage takes place whereby the bottle which nearly upside down is turn by man or machine to settle the lees in the neck of the bottle. Then the neck is frozen thus enabling the now frozen lees to pop out under natural pressure.

The six most important styles of champagne that Alexander Hadleigh Wine Merchants promote are as follows:

BRUT CHAMPAGNE…… by far the highest volume of all champagne styles produced, probably in excess of ninety percent. The dosage of sugar added after fermentation is small and resulting in a dry, flavoursome and very popular champagne.

ULTRA BRUT CHAMPAGNE…… probably the champagne with the lowest volume produced. It is a very dry style with less than half the sugar dosage of Brut Champagne and can be an acquired taste.

DEMI-SEC CHAMPAGNE…… popular with people who find the Brut too dry and sharp. The sugar dosage will vary from two to three times that of Brut Champagne, hence some Demi-Sec Champagnes can be a little too sweet for most.

BLANC de BLANCS CHAMPAGNE………a very popular Champagne since it portrays more fruit and depth of flavour than Brut, probably because its one grape chardonnay seems to get better and better after each year maturing in the bottle.

ROSE CHAMPAGNE……….is made by blending a small amount of red wine or letting the clear grape juice come in contact with the skins of the dark grapes used in the process. Rose Champagne tastes and styles vary a great deal and the medium flavour wines can prove very popular because of their easy drinking features.

VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE……….while non-vintage champagne can be blend of more than two harvests, vintage champagne must be produced totally from one years harvest i.e. the year on the label. The year when a vintage is declared will be associated with a very good growing season and final harvest, not all producers will declare at the same time, its similar to the protocol of vintage port. Careful selection of grapes after harvest and control during the long maturation process usually means a great champagne will have been delivered.

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Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut NV Champagne, Magnum,

Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut NV Champagne, Magnum, is the result of the delicate blending between harvest grapes and a majority of reserve wines, part of which have been aged in magnums for five to fifteen years. The wine has a golden colour and nose picks-up ripe fruit and hints of spice. Long well structured taste with flavours of pear and fresh walnut.

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1500ml £89.95

Bollinger, La Grande Annee Brut, Vintage Champagne, 2012

Fine and Full Bodied Dry Champagne

Bollinger, La Grande Annee Brut, Vintage Champagne 2012 is a deep creamy yellow, becoming nutty and winey, but still youthful, with great depth and complexity. Elegantly dry and crisp. Very clean with a beautifully balanced palate and length, Vinified in small oak barrels.

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750ml £112.58

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV Champagne Magnum,

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV Champagne, magnum boasts a deep golden hue with delicate, vivacious and long-lasting bubbles and are the result of a long, slow maturing process in chalk cellars. Thanks to 40% of reserve wines, the blend offers a complex, elegant, voluptuous nose with a touch f freshly baked brioche, rich toasted notes and sun-drenched fruits-mango, apricot and mirabelle plum-accented by dried fruits, pistachio and almond. On the palate the texture is reminiscent of a crisp layer of nougatine on a velvety cream pastry, filled with plump red plums and ripe cherries. The selection of resrve wines gives the wine lushness. The finish unveils notes of praline and vanilla and makes a wonderful aperitif or can be friends with seafood or light meat starters.

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1500ml £126.50

Dom Perignon Vintage Champagne, 2010

Finest Quality Dry Champagne, Pure Class

Dom Perignon Vintage Champagne, is from an outstanding harvest worthy of vintage champagne, matured in cellars for seven years, Intense, sophisticated, seamless, creamy flow Full of life with a fresh nose spiralling of aromas, blending hints of angelica, dried flowers, pineapple, coconut, cinnamon, cocoa and tobacco. Fullness of mouth, its earthy, smoky, pearly complexity rises to the surface, underscored by vibrant peppery spice.

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750ml £194.65

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Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Vintage Champagne, 2013

Finest Quality Dry Champagne, Pure Class

Round with excellent freshness that compliments the palate, displaying notes of butter, brioche , toasted bread

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750ml £257.00