The monk Dom Perignon [pictured below] is credited with having invented Champagne, although some authorities dispute this and maintain that it was invented earlier and probably in England. Whatever the truth, it first appeared in France around 1670, at the time that Dom Perignon became a cellarer at Hautvillers. The new sparkling wine was not a big hit at first, and it was generally considered that effervescence is only merit in a petit vin and belongs rightly to beer, chocolate and whipped cream. It was also referred to as the devils wine. Now by any standard that is a P.R. campaign that's going to take some effort to turn around. From hell fire to heavenly sparkling stars that is quite a repositioning effort. The invention of Champagne was off to a slow marketing start. It was developed at the end of Louis XIV's reign, which was hardly the right time to launch this new novelty drink. The splendour of Versailles was on the wane, and the popping of Champagne corks would have scandalized the ailing king and his pious mistress.
In 1715, Philippe Duc d'Orleans became Regent of France. Louis XV was only five years old, but almost instantly Royalty and the Court started popping Champagne corks. France embarked upon one of the most frivolous, extravagant and rip-roaring decades in its history. The Palais Royal, the residence of the Regent, was filled with gay roués and fast young women. The pursuit of pleasure was the main aim of all classes of society. This pursuit of self-indulgence was a great coup for the producers of the devils drink and produced an era of gallant abbés, powdered dandies, of Boucher's pink and gold goddesses rustling in silks and taffetas. The new drink was scarce and only Royalty and people of exceptional influence could procure the real stuff. Just perfect market positioning!
In England, the Victorian music halls sang about Champagne. George Leybourne wrote the smash hit musical Champagne Charlie, which was almost an ad for Moët and Chandon. Most people believed that the jeunesse dorée had nothing else to do but stop up all night, spend money like water and drink Champagne. What a lifestyle! And on everybody's lips was the jingle from the smash hit: "Champagne Charlie was my name, Champagne drinking gain'd my fame, So as of old when on the spree, Moët and Chandon's the wine for me. " The sales were now unstoppable, and were further boosted when at the turn of the century an ardent Champagne lover was placed on the throne on England. King Edward loved to go shooting, and was always followed by a boy carrying a basket of Champagne bottles, when thirsty, he would call up the boy, and hence a Bottle of the Boy became a very familiar Edwardian expression.
Champagne had firmly positioned itself with exclusivity, Royalty and good times. Its relative scarcity ensured that the price was high and thus reserved for special occasions. Its connections with the lustful French Court would ensure that it would remained the preferred drink of the highrollers, a situation that seems to have persisted into the 1980s with customers like Christopher Skase and Alan Bond consuming cases of Bollinger, Krug and Dom Perignon. It was a time when 10-case sales of top bubbly were made before lunch and consumed that afternoon. It was corporate indulgence on a Grand Scale. Madame Lily Bollinger did much to immortalize the drink and create the justification for Champagne being regarded as an essential necessity of life. "I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it, unless I'm thirsty. "
However, Champagne has another more colourful background, just filled with sex and scandal, and it has its origins back in Greece, well before the bubbly was invented. The Victorians decided that Champagne was such a special drink that it deserved its own shape of glass, and thus the Champagne saucer evolved.
Glass Shape: Greek Gods. But the Champagne saucer or coupe was not invented by Victorian England, but rather originally belonged to the Greek Gods. Now, you might say, this is a bit far fetched, but we're told by the French author Maurice des Ombiaux, in his book 'Sein, d'Helene' that one day, a few Greek gods were having a fête, and the party included such notables as Dionysus, Phoebus Apollo and Venus Aphrodite. The group decided that Helen ought to be associated with the enchanted juice of the grape, and the best way of achieving this goal was to have a chalice moulded from her breast. The task of producing a cast was given to Paris (a shepherd and Apollo's protégé). The rest we'll quote, we could not write better than what is to follow.
Glass Shape: Helen of Troy. Helen appeared with her attendant, looking as radiant as Phoebe among the stars... the veil which covered her bosom was lifted and one of the two globes was revealed, pink as the dawn, white as the snow of Mount Rhodopus, smooth as the goats' milk of Arcadia. The Gods just had to sneak another look at Helen's gorgeous breast... her admirers had glimpsed a teat whose freshness was as tempting as a strawberry. So now you know why strawberries and champagne go so well together! The breast-shaped chalice was the creation of what was to become the forerunner of the Victorian Champagne coupe, and Champagne producers were not adverse in promoting that divine illusion of drinking from the breast of the daughter of Jupiter and Leda.
Glass Shape: Marie Antoinette. However, there is a more contemporary player, the 'Austrian whore' as she was known Marie Antoinette, who is heralded as being the inspiration of the Victorian coupe. Marie Antoinette was determined to leave her mark in history apart from eating cake. Her reputation shocked even the libertarians of her own age, much less the prudish Victorians. Marie Antoinette had countless lovers (well connected of course) and she even confessed herself that she led the life of a despicable prostitute! Her prowess was remarkable and in order to outdo her rivals Helen, Cleopatra, Catherine de Medici and everyone else, she had four coupes made, cast in rose-white porcelain, moulded from her breast.
Now there's another marketing coup (coupe) for the Champenoise, and no doubt the forerunner of the half bottle, (one coupes), a full bottle (two coupes) and magnum (four coupes). At 370ml per coupes would that make the lady a 36 or 46 cup? Interesting question, one for more research, and no doubt far more interesting than drinking out of a glass slipper. But it wasn't only the size of Marie's coupes that intrigued the public. The night before her coronation in 1775, she spent on the Porte Neuve at Reims, an inlet of love, dressed as a Bacchante. The story goes that she spent three hours copulating with a selected Hercules (was Paris in town that night?). She is alleged to have learnt new positions from Comte d' Artois, and at Trianon experimented with the ladies of the hoold. Wow! What a lady and what a story for the bubbly producers to get hold of. It's no wonder Champagne is associated with having a good time!
However, having delved into history for an answer about the Romantic qualities of Champagne, one feels one has to conduct a contemporary survey. No, it's not out with the yellow pages looking up Escorts, but it is asking customers a question - What's so different about champagne? The men say it's the pop, the ladies say it's the froth and bubble. Sounds like the expectations are not too different from Marie's.
The Millenium of the year 2000, or 2001 more correctly, will be the first time in history that the change of a Millenium has been toasted with Champagne. We are witness to the greatest sparkling party of the Galaxy, as exciting as the birth of a new star, an extraordinary time to be alive. Millions and millions of Champagne corks popping all night, froth and bubble lasting long into the night (Marie's 3 hour endurance record could be broken). A truly extraordinary moment, filled with all sorts of expectations and mystery. This is living in exciting times indeed! The millenium is also a time for some serious contemplation - particularly about the human psyche and its ability to turn on other humans in the most callous of ways. If there be but one wish, one prayer, let us then pray at the dawn of the new Millenium that mankind has learnt one thing - to love and respect all life. A simple prayer and hopefully not an impossible one. Peace, love and health.
The millenium is also a time for some serious contemplation - particularly about the human psyche and its ability to turn on other humans in the most callous of ways. If there be but one wish, one prayer, let us then pray at the dawn of the new Millenium that mankind has learnt one thing - to love and respect all life. A simple prayer and hopefully not an impossible one. Peace, love and health.
Measure Champagne Quality
How does one describe Champagne? Sight, nose, palate is a good start to make some reasoned observations, but that would be too simple a method to be adopted by French producers. From a simple name of a French Province, Champagne has become a magic word that needs no translation in any language to be understood. The French have done such a good job in promoting their product that the name Champagne is synonymous with elegance and savoir vivre, style and refinement. Champagne Charles Heidsieck developed a unique way of analyzing the product. It starts conservatively enough with a statement ON THE EYE, followed by a statement about the nose, ON THE NOSE, and then ON THE PALATE.
All pretty safe up to now one would assume. Then there is a statement on GASTRONOMY - perfect - but wait, there is more is to come. To leave the observations at this point would be to admit that Champagne is just another drink and that would not be acceptable. They have invented a new classification method, that of THE IMAGINATION. A rectangular chart is constructed to appraise Champagne in this manner.
To describe your Champagne, you simply circle the sensations you experience when you are drinking it. For example, the 1985 Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires is described thus: An accomplished wine, which approaches the sensations of ecstasy. The ideal accompaniment for the key moment in our lives.
Describing a Product
The 1989 Piper Heidsieck Brut celebrates special occasions full of memories worth treasuring. You choose it to indulge your pleasures and share the best of times with lifelong friends. Piper Heidsieck Brut Rose is ideal for a refined dinner, just as it is for a romantic supper for two. It goes wonderfully with red fruits and is perfect as a summer aperitif. However, the best is yet to come and indeed if a bottle appears at home tonight you can be sure that the wine is the wine of romance and seduction, with a nature that is generous and enchanting. Champagne Krug Grand Cuvée is described as a symphony, a composition where all instruments play together, complementing each other in total harmony. On the other hand, should you be so lucky as to taste the 1988 Krug Clos du Mesnil then, the wine could be described as a sonata where the style of the composer is clear and unquestionable. To understand Champagne, it appears necessary to understand one's Body, Spirit, Soul and Heart, and only then, according to the Champenoise, will the real quality of Champagne be revealed.
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Nicks Wine Merchants (Doncaster) Pty Ltd A.B.N. 19 826 635 151 A.C.N. 006 267 045Packaged Liquor Licences - 32005543 and 32020878WARNING: Under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 it is an offence: To supply alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years (Penalty exceeds $6,000). For a person under the age of 18 years to purchase or receive liquor (Penalty exceeds $500)