Champagne

Champagne is unquestionably one of wine's greatest brands, a byword just about anywhere in the world for prestige and quality. The reality however is often a triumph of glossy marketing over integrity and heritage over skill. A quiet revolution has taken place over the last few decades with the rise of the Champagne grower-winemaker, once farmers and landowners who sold their grapes to the big Houses whose names and logos are instantly recognisable. The best of these small operations are now making and bottling their own Champagnes, beautifully crafted wines with real personality and sense of place. I make an honourable exception for Pol Roger, well-known as one of Epernay's most prestigious Houses but nonetheless still family-owned, fiercely independent and producing very some very fine wines.