I don’t mean to sound belligerent, but I feel compelled to emphasize that I love Champagne and sparkling wines too much to ever consign them to the scrap heap of obligation. I drink them year round, with all sorts of foods, for any occasion, but more important, for no occasion at all. An estimated 40 percent of Champagne is sold leading into the holidays, according to the Champagne Bureau, a trade association, but that does not mean we all must abide by the nonsense of restricting sparkling wines to end-of-the-year gatherings and celebrations.The plain fact is that Champagne is one of the world’s most versatile and pleasing wines. That’s another crucial point: Champagne is a wine, though this may not be obvious to some, and it needs to be thought of in that context. Too often, sparkling wines are set apart, as if they were a valued set of cuff links brought out only for special occasions, then returned to their plush box. But Champagne goes wherever other wines are capable of going, whenever, with ease. Now, I love all sorts of Champagnes, but I especially treasure Blanc de Blanc, the finest, most delicate of all. Most Champagnes are blends of three grapes: Pinot Noir Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, but Blanc de Blanc is made solely of Chardonnay.

One of reason I enjoy Blanc de Blanc is that I drink much of my Champagne as aperitifs, and most Blanc de Blanc Champagnes, usually lighter and more elegant than other styles, are ideal before-dinner wines.  For those of you who love caviar, Blanc de Blanc Champagnes are perfect, never too heavy to obscure the delicate flavour of the fish eggs.  Sushi lovers:  Blanc de Blanc Champagnes again are the ideal match. You can even dumb it all the way down and enjoy a glass of fizz with pizza. Try a glass of Blanc de Blanc with a seafood pizza, you may be surprised how little of the bottle is left by the end of the pizza.

Helen’s Hill 2012 “Roma’s Grace” Blanc de Blanc

Our 2012 Blanc de Blanc is a pure and very satisfying expression of Chardonnay; the Brut has been aged for three years on its yeast and has a modest dosage of 6 g/l. The floral aromas are complimented by an autolytic yeastiness and yellow fruits on the palate. Linear and focused, yet not without an attractive depth of flavour, the wine has a long mineral finish.