Press for Champagne

I have no idea why everyone’s getting their knickers in a twist about Bob Bob Ricard’s ‘Press for Champagne’ button. 

You see, they STOLE IT from Searcys. 

True story.

Actually, it may not be true. I don’t know which placed it first. If you do, let me know!

A few weeks ago, I was invited by the gorgeous Caroline for an afternoon of Champagne tasting at Searcys, as her guest. Unfortunately, on Friday Caroline messaged me to say that she could no longer make it as her In Laws were popping over. 

I didn’t mind too much, until an email popped into my inbox with my own invitation attached. I quickly texted a big thank you to Caroline and gratefully accepted. This was one invitation that The Gentleman (for some unbeknown reason) didn’t want to turn down. 

So on Sunday, we were dressed and ready for an impressive afternoon at St Pancras (The ‘Posh’ part of Kings Cross). We had high expectations and I’m pleased to tell you that the team at Searcy’s did very well to match them!

We grabbed our weapons and perched ourselves at the first stop: Gosset.

Here, we tried two Champagne’s. 

First up was the Grand Rose Brut which was absolutely delicious. With notes of strawberries, it is perfect paired with foie gras or red meats – probably due to the fact that it is actually 7% red wine. 

Second was the Grand Reserve Brut. This was very crisp and more typical in flavour of a champagne. The Gentleman representing Gosset was really excited to tell us that they are particularly proud of this champagne for its matching to all sorts of foods. He explained that they had recently launched this champagne in Chinese restaurants as well as having a definite spot on the Chotto Matte Menu.

Once we’d finished our glasses and said our thanks to Gosset, it was on to the next: Besserat de Bellefon.

Blancs de Blancs. When asked what exactly I could smell when I dipped my nose into this glass, my honest answer was ‘Blue Cheese’. I really have no idea why as the notes are dried fruit. Hmmm. Nope, definitely cheese. Not unpleasant however, just, cheesy.

The Brut. And my, what a brute he is! A very sharp and snappy champagne, not my favourite though. Honestly, I thought this tasted very similar to the Blancs de Blancs, but with a little more snap!

It suddenly dawned on us at this point that we still had about five more Champagne houses to taste. Each had about 3 different champagnes to sample, and they were not giving us small glasses. It was at this point that Dan announced they would be bringing food from the kitchens for us all to sample.

Score.

Beautiful food was presented before us from the A la Carte Menu.

Beetroot and Vodka soup with crusty bread smothered in Crab pate. – super delicious, not much of a hint of vodka, but beautifully creamy and very fresh tasting.

Steamed Mussels – what’s not to like?!

Chicken liver pate with pickled fruits and toast – so smooth and hearty. Beautiful flavours in this and quality bread too. 

The Sea ‘N’ Land Burger – Squid, Chorizo and Feta. Three things I adore carefully placed into a beautifully glossy bap.

And of course; The Slow Roasted Pork Belly. Nothing I can say would do this amazing dish justice. It was incredibly succulent and juicy with a crisp, tasty crackling. You have to try it yourself! 

The only fault I had with the food is in the way it was served. If we were all to be having a three course meal sitting around a dining table, it would have been perfect. But, between us we found ourselves having to cut a piece off and try small portions from the same plate. Whilst we stood around balancing our champagne and the plate.

Mini portions to serve, would have been perfect for this purpose – it was still beyond delicious though! 

Pudding was then presented;

Of which, I tried the Earl Grey Creme Brulee. I have to say that it was possibly the best (?!) Creme Brulee I’ve ever tasted. The initial mouthful was a tad strange – I immediately tasted cold tea, but then at the second mouthful it was the creamiest, most beautiful custard topped with caramel. 

We had a lovely chat with Jamie Klinger and her Partner (both were so hilarious and fab company) before we had to remind ourselves of the reason we were there in the first place. 

Next stop; Henri Giroud, with their delicious Esprit. A lovely fresh champagne, perfect for escaping from a long day. Pour a glass as you’re sitting on the sofa with the candles burning and settling down to a fabulous film. Heaven.

Piper Heidsieck maker of fabulously glamorous bottles and my new favourite Champagne brand, was next for us. They’ve been going since 1785, so I’m glad to say I’m pretty sure they know what they’re doing!

Helen, their lovely brand ambassador was the most fabulous host to us. She pulled us around to sit in their booth and made sure we were comfortably seated with the Searcy’s under-table-heating on for cosiness. We didn’t leave this booth for the next few hours as she took us on a champagne journey;

The bottles were lined up and we sampled each as Helen suggested they should go. The journey got sweeter and more fruity as we headed towards the finish line.

I couldn’t tell you what each of them were (you try keeping a level head after at least 6 glasses of champagne!!) but I took pictures of my favourite bottles;

How beautiful is this bottle? It’s their 2002 Prestige Cuvee Vintage – I have to admit I didn’t really know what this meant. But, a ‘Vintage’ is chosen and comes about every 4-6 years. It is a mix of a few different wines and only happens in a year where they’ve had an exceptional harvest. This can totally depend on the vineyard and quite often, there are debates between Champagne houses as to if the year is really a ‘Vintage’ one.

Long story short, Helen let us take this bottle home (empty) and it is now a rather fancy candle holder!

This was their Rose Sauvage – a gorgeous flamboyant sparkling rose with the most beautiful pink colour in the glass. And, the bottle was Barbie Pink. Tacky to some, but fabulous to me!

My favourite of all though, was the Cuvee Sublime, sweet and rich. This is the champagne I would have for any celebration, it just gives you that warm all-over feeling of happiness.

That’s my happy face!

To top it all off; Helen then ordered a cheese platter to help us distinguish the change in flavour of the Champagne to reflect the flavours we were consuming.

I took home one very content man and a lot of new champagne facts:

11 million bubbles escape from a glass of Champagne. There’s approximately the same number of inhabitants in London, and the surrounding area!

The largest ‘oversized’ Champagne bottle is called a Melchizedec or Midas – this holds up to 40 75cl bottles!

Champagne is made up of roughly 80 different blended wines combined by the Chef de Cave from different plots, crops and grapes.

Thank you so much to Caroline for passing on my details and the team at Searcys for such a fabulous and informative day. Thanks also to Piper Heidsieck for our bottle of Champagne that we can’t wait to drink!

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