A year to savour in the Champagne world

Celebrate spring with some special cocktails
Celebrate spring with some special cocktails

For anyone with a thread of superstition, the number 13 is unlucky, and it was certainly looking that way in France’s Champagne region for much of this year.

After a cold, wet start to 2013, followed by a gloomy spring with even more rain, the vine cycle was two weeks behind the 10-year average.

But, despite all this, the Champagne Bureau says it has the potential to be “outstanding”.

To join the hundreds of growers celebrating the mother nature’s wheel of fortune, try these sparkling suggestions.

In a class of its own, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame was first released in 1985 and there have been very few vintages since. In fact, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Brut 2004 (£135, {http://www. www.harrods.com|www.harrods.com|Click here to visit Harrods}) is the first release of the millennium. The precious fruit in this prestige cuvee is 69 per cent pinot noir and 31 per cent chardonnay, and these elegant bubbles are marked by delicate, floral aromas, pure citrus fruits and a delicious freshness on the silky, long finish.

Champagne Jacquart have launched a new cuvee that looks as good as it tastes. A handsome dark bottle with a golden collar, Champagne Jacquart Cuvee Alpha 2005 (£75, www.greatwesternwine.com) is a vintage blend of grand cru and premier cru grapes and has the makings of a masterpiece.

Like several other famous houses, GH Mumm have experienced a rollercoaster in fortunes, but Champagne GH Mumm 2006 (£39.99, Sainsbury’s) is certainly worth a try. It’s fresh and weighty with an aromatic, biscuity nose, candied citrus fruits and a vibrant long finish that can take it from rich shellfish to white meat.

Taittinger heiress Virginie Taittinger worked for Champagne Taittinger, one of the blue-chip labels in Champagne, for 21 years before breaking away in 2006 when the group was sold.

With bubbles running through her veins, Virginie launched her own champagne label and has now released her first cuvee, Champagne Virginie T NV Brut (£36, minimum six bottles, www.virginie-t.com).

Classified as non-vintage, but mostly composed of grapes from the 2006 vintage, with reserve wines from 2005, the blend is around two-thirds pinot noir and one-third chardonnay - it tastes divine. With power and elegance, there’s baked apple and toast on the nose with a hint of spice, a lovely fruity mouthfeel and a delicious finish.