Olesya’s Wine Bar on Exchequer Street is a favourite haunt of mine. Obviously their massive book of wines from across the globe is a big attraction, but what has always brought me back is their house Champagne, Gobillard 1er Cru Grande Réserve.
[singlepic id=8 w=320 h=240 float=left]Initially it’s zippy and citrussy on approach, but the well-defined bubbles (or perlage if you want to sound posh) prevent it from these characteristics from becoming eye-clenchingly overbearing. After a few seconds some toasty, nutty characteristics step in, which belie the 3 years the wine has spent aging on its lees (the yeast deposits remaining from fermentation). In all it’s a very attractive package, being lively, creamy, toasty and refreshing – everything you would want in a Champagne, really – but most notably it’s ridiculous value, of which more in a moment.
Champagne comes in a range of styles, from tart and citrussy to heavy, buttery and oaky. The best, I feel for me at least, are those that tread the line between the two, providing the best of both camps. Pol Roger, my perennial favourite, is an excellent example of this craft, and Gobillard 1er Cru Grande Réserve ranks up there too (though slightly lighter in style).
These balanced and well-made Champagnes aren’t too difficult to come by once you do a little research, but unfortunately Champagne is an industry that, like many others, is dominated by those who shout loudest. And given that wine is an industry that many struggle to comprehend then it is unfortunately those with larger advertising budgets that make minds up for consumers, irrespective of quality. And so it is that the populace is often subjected to insipid lemon juice that only barely conforms to the regulations that allow it to be called Champagne, but is marketed as one of the most luxurious drinks available. Moët & Chandon springs to mind. Sorry, I was going to be diplomatic, but there you have it.
But less of that. What really floats my boat as far as Gobillard 1er Cru Grande Réserve is concerned is how affordable it is: €30 from frenchwines.ie or €35 from the excellent Le Caveau in Kilkenny (both charge €10 P&P but Le Caveau reduce this proportionally to the number of bottles sold, eventually becoming free when you buy a dozen, which is recommended given their excellent range). What I’m saying is that is a find, especially as it’s easily found, so to speak.
Remember that this is a Premier Cru Champagne, a very tasty one at that, and you’ll realise that €30 is a steal, especially when you compare it to the stupid €45 that Moët & Chandon commands. So you can pick up a glass for €10 in Olysea’s, which again is fantastic value, though oddly Fallon & Byrne, literally a few metres across the road, have it on their list at €14 a glass, so it pays to shop around. Compare this again to, say the oh-so-ubiquitous peach juice called Prosecco that normally goes for €7-€8 and you can be certain where I’ll be spending my extra couple of quid.