Australians love their fizz; so much so that according to the 2018 data, we are the seventh-largest market for Champagne in the world. And at 8.38 million bottles imported in the year, that’s the second-highest amount of champenoise that we’ve ever consumed.
And while the global market for French bubbles has only inched forward in recent years, declines in sales in large markets like the UK and France itself has been offset by increases in sales to China, Hong Kong and Japan.
I was surprised to be told by Christine Ricketts, Cellar Director of one of the larger national retailers, Cellarmasters, that it is a Sunshine Coast postcode that has bought the most of their Champagnes over the last 12 months.
Having placed second to the posh Sydney suburb of Mosman last year, Buderim sales of French fizz have eclipsed any of the ritzy Sydney suburbs, with the Melbourne seaside township of Brighton clocking in second. And while the honour may be a dubious one, as a Buderim resident, I’d like to think that our champagne consumption is a product of the fact that we don’t drink much beer or spirits and simply prefer something sparkling as our afternoon aperitif!
But if you ask the experts, like Ms Ricketts, Champagne is one of the most versatile wines to pair with food because of its unique variances in acid, flavour and sweetness. “Most people are surprised to hear that Champagne is the world’s most food-friendly wine thanks to its high level of acidity and varying levels of richness. You can match the right Champagne with almost anything – from french fries, steak, to a scrumptious cheese platter. So if ever in doubt, always go for the bubbles!”, she said. But I suspect that a few of the Buderim champagne lovers are cringing at the thought of pouring anything other than a tannic red to accompany the eye fillet they pull off the BBQ on a lazy Sunday afternoon!
I’m the first to admit that I have been a contributor to the record Champagne sales in the 4556 postcode. For me, it’s a go-to drop when guests are coming over and you’re unsure of their personal preferences; after all, who doesn’t like a glass of bubbles to start any occasion? My thanks go to Christine for sharing a few of her stable stars with me on her recent visit to the Coast. While the Duperrey Brut (NV) was a delightful expression of Epernay, the 2012 vintage version was sublime.
The base-level Duperrey Premier Cru Brut is really quite affordable (compared to most genuine Champagnes) at about $40 a bottle, and is made from chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir grapes. Mid-yellow in the glass, there are lovely citrus notes on the nose and characters of nectarine, peach and Granny Smith apples on the palate. I really like the fine bead and the acids that appear on the finish, though I prefer Champagnes with a bit more yeast and toast characters. But at the entry level price point, it’s better than fair.
But try as it might, the Duperrey Brut can’t match motors with the Duperrey 2012 Vintage release. It’s still a fresh style that hits your palate lean and linear but opens nicely through the middle with robust mealy characters with nuts, butter and a bit of toast. There’s a nice creamy mousse which adds to the appeal, and a mineralic edge to the conclusion that is ideal in dry styles like this. It’s obviously the next step up from its non-vintage stablemate, and widely available at around $50 – $55 a bottle.
International Champagne Day may now be behind us, but with the Spring Racing Carnival just around the corner, it’s time to stock the cellar and the residents of Buderim invite you to join them in raising a glass of Epernay’s finest!