Cheshire Life Champagne Oscars 2008

PUBLISHED: 12:10 30 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:28 20 February 2013

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque

Perrier-Jout has emerged as this year's winner of the Cheshire Life Champagne Oscars award<br/>WORDS BY RAY KING<br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

WHOEVER it was that got no kicks from champagne was obviously not a resident of Alderley Edge.

Neither would the locals - who have a reputation for quaffing more of it than anywhere else in Britain - be inclined to describe the noblest of sparking wines as 'mere alcohol' that doesn't thrill them at all.

After all, it was the revelation by a national wine merchant that more champagne was sold through its Alderley Edge branch than in either Mayfair or Chelsea that prompted Cheshire's own celebration of the beloved bubbly.

Those sales figures - coupled with a lighthearted riposte aimed at stay-at-home London-based food and wine writers by Ahmet Kurcer, managing director of the Alderley Edge Hotel, and Patrick O'Neill, former editor of Cheshire Life - gave life to the 'Champagne Oscars'.

Now in their eighth year, the Oscars' presentation dinner, staged each December, has become one of the gourmet events of Cheshire's social calendar and proud ambassadors of the winning champagne houses have joined local connoisseurs and celebrities to receive the magnificent silver and gilt trophy, handcrafted by Warris & Company of Sheffield, silversmiths entrusted to care for the FA Cup.

The Alderley Edge is familiar territory for the champenois, for the luxury country house - named 'Best Small Hotel' in the Visit Chester & Cheshire Annual Awards 2007 - lists more than 150 different champagnes and stages champagne gourmet dinners each year. The champagnes most enjoyed by guests during the last 12 months contend for the 'Oscar', though no previous winner is considered again for five years.

In 2008 the winner is: Perrier-Jout. The pernay-based Grande Marque, founded in 1811, hit the spot for the panel of judges led by Mr Kurcer and Mr O'Neill together with Louise Taylor, editor of Cheshire Life; writer and broadcaster John Stalker, former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester; entrepreneur Max Essayan; Dr Jo Emery; and Ray King, Cheshire Life's food and wine writer.

Though Perrier-Jout is now part of the giant Pernod Ricard group, the house commands a unique place in champagne's history. In 1854 it became the first to release a dry champagne when all the wines were prevailingly sweet.

Charles Perrier may not quite have invented champagne, but he was not only the creator of the Brut style that is predominant today, but also an early advocate of single vintage champagne.

The most famous of Perrier- Jout's wines is undoubtedly Belle poque, a Hollywood favourite, whose intricately decorated bottle based on Emile Gall's enamelled Art Nouveau anemone design,was revived in 1969 after the discovery in a dusty cupboard of a beautiful bottle dating from 1902.

The Alderley Edge's executive chef Chris Holland and his brigade created a stunning lunch menu for the judges featuring Scallop Cevich with Oyster Jelly; Poached Quail Breast with Roasted Foie Gras; Seared Scottish Langoustines; A Tasting of Cheshire Lamb and Fresh Armagnac Soaked Goats Cheese.Wines from the hotel's renowned cellar were served with each course climaxing with Perrier-Jout's exquisite Belle poque Ros with a dessert of Flavours of English Raspberry with Meringue and Raspberry Sauce.

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