When not occupied ‘tasting the stars’ or mythologising the genesis of what was to become the most famous sparkling wine in the world, Dom Pérignon, our tipsy friend from the monastery of Hautvillers, would probably have enjoyed imbibing the local still wine.
The subsequent evolution of Champagne into the most protected and celebrated fizz in the world is well documented. But what happened to the local plonk? Not much it seems. Champagne’s very raison d’être was built on the premise of defying a marginal climate and adding, whenever possible, carbon dioxide and sugar to the reedy still wine.
Scroll down for Simon Field’s tasting notes and scores for the still wines of Champagne: Coteaux Champenois new releases
Why do it?
Commercially and intellectually there seemed very little point in reawakening a category which was not especially auspicious in any sense – one or two honourable exceptions, such as Bollinger’s Vieilles Vignes Françaises, aside.
The market always craves something new, or in this case something old, however. When one allies this perfectly reasonably nostalgia to the fashion for single-vineyard wines (even in Champagne!) and, of course, to the well-rehearsed phenomenon of climate change, it becomes clear that the time is now ripe (pun intended) to resurrect the region’s still wines.