Champagne growers coping with damage caused by violent hailstorm

Last year presented wine growers across the continent with many challenges due to the unpredictable weather patterns. With late frosts wiping out crops, and lots of rain, it was a difficult year with many crops lost. So far, 2018 looks set to be equally as challenging.

Vines damaged

On 12 May, hailstones the size of golf balls decimated 500 hectares of vines in the south of the Champagne region. It looks like a decent amount of damages has been done to vineyards in the Cote des Bar area in particular.

Grape growers reported hailstones with diameters of at least five centimetres hitting the vines, which are mostly planted with Pinot Noir. While the early estimates reported damage to 500 hectares, the entirety of the damage is not yet known.

Second hail storm

The corridor of hailstorms extended from Vitry-le-Croise and Les Riceys, with the village of Neuville at the heart of the storm, and therefore subject to the most damage.

The trade body of the area, Comite de Champagne, said that hailstones rained down and hit about: “20% of the Cote de Bar area”. Of the damaged area, around 280 hectares are in the Riceys area. This hailstorm came after a decent amount of hail and wind at the end of April, but this has caused much more damage.

Local damage

Because hail fell on growing leaves, it’s unknown whether the crops can be saved. The Pinot vines were at around eight leaves while the Chardonnays had already reached ten leaves, according to the trade body.

However, the damage is pretty local in the Cotes des Bar vineyard region, which covers 8,000 hectares and represents about 24% of the Champagne region. While the relative containment of the damage is broadly good news, for the vineyards affected, it’s another weather-related disaster after the late frosts in 2016 and 2017.

It remains to be seen if reserves are very low for local growers, something that is increasingly likely with consistently damaging weather patterns.

Alternative Ways to Pair Champagne and Food

We all know the classic pairings for Champagne. From caviar to oysters, these traditional options are tried and tested delights. But why not try something new or perhaps a little unusual? There are a wide range of foods that pair perfectly with Champagne and step outside the ordinary. This week, Ideal Wine Company brings you some alternative ways to pair Champagne with food.

Ideal Wine Company Champagne and food pairings
We all know the classic pairings for Champagne, but here are some alternative ways to pair Champagne with food.

Macaroni Cheese – soft and creamy match made in heaven

When thinking of food to serve with Champagne, macaroni cheese may not be the obvious first choice. But when the balance of flavours is right, these two work together incredibly well. There are a few important variables to perfect with your pasta before this can work. Make sure that your cheese is not too sharp, so consider opting for a softer creamy cheese with flavour. A good smoked gouda is perfect. When it comes to the Champagne, your wine needs to be acidic enough to cut through the cheese. Balance is key to pairing Champagne and macaroni cheese, but a great rule of thumb is to keep the cheese soft and let the wine be slightly bolder. The perfect comforting pairing!

Spring rolls with spicy sweet chilli sauce – opt for sweetness

This popular dish is often a snack or starter and can make a surprisingly good pair for Champagne. The goal of this balance is to reduce the fat of the spring rolls and increase the lightness of the vegetables. To do this, look for a Champagne with low acidity and opt for a big bubble finesse. A good rule to remember for pairing spring rolls and Champagne is to meet spiciness with sweetness. The more heat you add, the sweeter your Champagne should be. This provides a delicious balance that is unexpected but delicious.

Fried mushrooms – look for fruity and earthy notes

Although it may sound unusual, Champagne and fried foods are the perfect pairing. The greasy richness of these foods is elevated by the sweet bubbles of Champagne. A great example of this is fried mushrooms. Try opting for a Blanc de Noirs, a white sparkling wine made with dark grapes such as Pinot Noir. The earthiness found in mushrooms is complemented by the rich fruity and earthy notes that can be found in options such as a Blanc de Noir. A slight sweetness will go a long way in lightening this dish.

Fish tacos – high acidity for zingy food

Fish tacos present a wide range of flavours. From zingy lightness provided by the limes to the heat of the chilli to the subtly of the fish, there is a careful balancing act of flavours in place. A super dry and crisp Champagne will fit perfectly into this. These wines have little or no added sugar, meaning they’ll keep up with the zesty flavour of the dish. If the fish has lime or salsa added to it, it’s key that you find a Champagne with even higher acids. This means the wine will taste bright. As well as this, look for a good sharpness and minerality prevents the wine from tasting too flat. With a good balance, Champagne and fish tacos create a light and lively pairing.

Don’t be afraid to ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to your Champagne pairings. While the classics work well, there are plenty of alternative pairings that can widen your use of Champagne. There’s no longer any need to save the Champagne for special occasions!

The Perfect Wines for Your New Year’s Eve Party

What better way is there to ring in the New Year than with friends, family and a good glass of wine. No matter what your preference is, see out the year in style. From reds to white to sparkling, Ideal Wine Company has amazing suggestions for the final party of the year!

Ideal Wine Company New Year Wine
What are the perfect wines for your New Year’s Eve party?

Champagne – synonymous with celebrations

The ultimate celebratory tipple, champagne really is a great way to toast the new year. Whether you’re heading out to a party or staying in, this full-bodied wine with a rounded sweetness is a perfect choice. Its citrusy freshness adds a complexity to a fruity expression. Try a dry option if you don’t want something too sweet. Alternatively, you could try other sparkling wines if you want to break away from the seasonal norm. Prosecco, for instance, is less intense than its French counterpart and pairs well with light cheese and dark chocolate. Perfect for parties.

Unusual red blends – an adventurous change

This party season, why not try something completely new? A blend of red wine brings together all the flavours you look for in a wine into a surprising yet delicious glass. These create a memorable experience for all who try them, the layers of depth, complexity and rich flavours offering a twist on a classic. Try expanding your blend choices. A classic Cabernet and Merlot blend always goes down well. But if you’re feeling adventurous, the unique blend of Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Petite Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Mourvedre, Grenache, and Cinsault currently gaining popularity is sure to be unforgettable!

Pinot Noir – a go-to for elegance and refinement

New Year’s Eve is a time to enjoy the classic staples done well. This light-skinned grape offers a less intense red that pleases both red and white wine drinkers. Offering an exotic bouquet of ripe red fruit, Pinot Noir is a graceful addition to any party. Notoriously difficult to perfect, a well-made Pinot Noir is a truly delicious and memorable choice. Try finding a vintage from 2010 or 2012, both of which were good years for this variety.

Vinho Verde – a refreshing option

Gaining in popularity over recent years, Vinho Verde is perfect for those who enjoy a crisp and refreshing glass. This Portuguese white is light, fizzy and easy to drink. Look out for the more serious versions of the wine being created. These textural and dry offerings often include notes of citrus and pear. As a lighter option than most, this wine is perfect to enjoy with a heavier New Year’s Eve meal or if you want to stick to a less intense option.

This New Year, find a wine to suit your palate that mixes well with a variety of foods. Whether you want to toast to 2018 with unexpected red or white, or a classic glass of sparkling wine, there’s a wine out there to keep everyone happy and in a fine celebratory mode!

Ideal Wines to Serve This Winter

Winter is the perfect season to stay in and enjoy wine. Here’s what Ideal Wine Company is reaching for when the temperatures drop.

Ideal wine company winter wines
Here are our ideal wines to serve this winter.

Nebbiolo – pleasant with surprising form and grip

Nebbiolo is a deceiving wine. While its appearance is pale and pleasant, it is often compared to a Pinot Noir, it has many unexpected qualities. With a high acidity and grippy tannins, which give the wine form and grip, you won’t forget this red quickly. Showcasing complex rose, cherry and leather flavours, this complex wine will keep you satisfied. It pairs well with winter squash, mushrooms, truffles and charcuterie, making a perfect accompaniment to plenty of winter foods.

Sangiovese – earthy and rustic

A high-acid and high-tannin Italian wine is a must have for this colder and darker season. A traditional Sangiovese is the perfect wine to enjoy with all kinds of winter foods, including roasted winter vegetables and hard cheeses. Its earthy and rustic notes bring smoky overtones to the glass. As well, its complex nose is perfect for sitting and sniffing as you relax.

Shiraz – rugged and fruity

When it comes to winter, we all enjoy something a bit more hearty and powerful. A Shiraz is the perfect answer to those needs. Described as big and brooding, this red is an ideal warmer. It is known for its powerful black fruit flavours and savoury undertones. It has a high ABV (coming in at around 14-15%) but if you can’t indulge at Christmas, when can you? It’s not for the faint of heart, but is a delicious choice for when it’s cold outside.

Cabernet Sauvignon – an undeniable classic

Cabernet Sauvignon is such a classic, it’s almost seen as a cliché this time of year. This speaks to the popularity of the wine this time of year. Undoubtedly a favourite of many, this wine is a layered and complex option. Pairing well with a seasonal roast and red meat, this fruity red is a staple of the season for good reason. Try an Old World variety for a surprisingly subtle option.

Chardonnay – rich and buttery

An oaked Chardonnay works well with the hearty food of the season. It’s lightness cuts through the richer fare and provides a palate cleanser between bites. This works particularly well with turkey, sea bass and gruyere cheese. Rich and buttery, this full-bodied white has dominant flavours of vanilla, butter and caramel, with a touch of citrus. Reminiscent of other holiday favourites, such as eggnog and hot buttered rum, a Chardonnay will pair wonderfully with your Christmas feast.

Champagne – light and refreshing

To add to a thoroughly festive season, Champagne brings a party atmosphere. It is light and versatile, providing a refreshing quality that is often overlooked. When it comes to winter food, it pairs well with so many favourites, from Christmas ham and bacon to cheeses and nuts. Whether you want to enjoy this at a party or celebrating at home, Champagne provides the perfect uplift to cure any winter blues. Try on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve to properly celebrate the occasions!

With all the wines this time of year, it’s important to find one suited to your needs. A bold red is always a popular winter warmer, while a refreshing white provides a welcome respite from heavy foods and drinks this time of year. With many of us spending more time indoors due to the cold weather, what better way to do it than with a glass of wine?

How to make the perfect Mimosa

In the runup to the summer months, cocktails are coming back in full swing. Some of the most iconic cocktails also have the simplest recipes – easy to follow so you have more time to sit and relax! Ideal Wine Company discovers the trick to making a perfect Mimosa for the upcoming summer months.

Ideal Wine Company mimosa
Making the perfect Mimosa.

A bit of background

A Mimosa is one of the most popular cocktails, with citrus tones it is a refreshing summer drink to enjoy with family or friends! It is traditionally served in a tall champagne flute at brunch, and is composed of equal parts of champagne (or an alternative sparkling wine) and a chilled citrus juice. It was believed to have been invented in 1925 in the Hôtel Ritz Paris by Frank Meier. It is thought to be named after the common name in Europe for the yellow flowers of Acacia Dealbata. Similar to a Mimosa, Buck’s Fizz is a variation made with twice as much champagne to orange juice.

The recipe

If you have the time, using freshly squeezed orange juice will leave a lighter, tarty flavour on your palate. It is more delicate than shop bought orange juice which means it makes your Mimosa more enjoyable and tasty!

A classic Mimosa recipe uses equal parts sparkling wine to orange juice, this is the perfect ratio for this tasty cocktail. However, if you are making Mimosas for a party or large group of friends, using less wine will make sure you get maximum usage whilst saving too. An alternative to save on wine but still get enough of an alcohol to juice ratio, is to add a splash of orange liqueur.

When making a Mimosa, the number one rule is to always pour the sparkling wine first before topping with the orange juice. By doing this it ensures that the cocktail has the chance to mix together on its own, which avoids a sticky mess at the top if the glass! There is no need to stir the cocktail either as this will cause the wine to become flat.

Top tips

A top tip for making a Mimosa is to use a dry sparkling wine rather than a sweet one. Spending around £10 on a sparkling wine is advised for a good quality; as well as this using Cava from Spain is an affordable choice. Alternatively, a dry Prosecco is a great option for a Mimosa if Cava isn’t your drink of choice. Another top tip is not to go too cheap in your choice of sparkling wine, this won’t help your drink have delicious taste it should.

A key tip when making a Mimosa is to never serve it warm, the wine and orange juice should be kept refrigerated until they are ready to be served. After pouring the first round, place back in the fridge to keep them chilled and fresh.

Stocking up

If you fancy spending your weekends making delicious Mimosas ready for the summer months, why not visit the Ideal Wine Company Champagne section. Or alternatively Prosecco from the Burke’s Peerage Selection.