Champagne – the good, the great and the not so nice

Is this book the most refreshing, pretension-pricking, myth-bustingly unfrothy book on Champagne ever written?

Australian wine merchant, vineyard owner and writer Robert Walters’ new book, published 2017

This new book on Champagne landed in New Zealand this week and is proving to be refreshingly revealing and pretension-pricking as its PR pieces say.

So, what pretensions need to be pricked when it comes to champagne? Where do we begin?

Another book on the Champagne region that was published this year by author Caroline Henry supports this author’s assertion that Champagne has the lowest percentage of organically certified vineyards across all French wine regions, some of the highest yielding vineyards (higher yields equal more dilution in taste) and yet, as we all know only too well, it is one of the highest priced wines.

And therein lies the rub. This new book, Champagne – A Secret History, is written with passion for the product but also takes an informed view that many of the myths we hear about the world’s highest priced bubbles are, in fact, just that – myths and legends.

All is not what it seems in the world of champagne and Walters’ views represent many when he suggests that Dom Perignon is falsely represented as the inventor of champagne.

He also suggests that sparkling champagne (it was a still wine prior to the 18th Century) was a product of economic desperation, which grew in appeal because still champagne was heavily sweetened and then went through a second fermentation in the bottle (originally as a mistake). The bubbles, the heavy handed sweetening of the wine and the well connected roads between the Champagne region, Paris and other European capitals all collided to create a wine that was then successfully marketed as ‘drinking stars’. Enter the Dom Perignon legend.

I am still digesting the start of this book and love the honesty of Walters’ writing style. Someone had to say what many of us already know and while many of the world’s best sparkling wines are champagne, not all of them are created equal. Read this and learn. I am and it’s a fun read.

Champagne – A Secret History by Robert Walters is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $36.99 and is available in bookstores from 24 November or order it here:

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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