My girlfriends and I thought nothing of throwing sixty quid each at several bottles of Veuve on a Thursday night after work. And Friday night, and sometimes Saturday night. In fact I’ve probably spent more on champagne in my adult life than I have on shoes, handbags, make-up and hair dos.
I’d go as far as to say that there was a point in my twenties when I would have rather swigged a bottle of Laurent Perrier Rose on a night out than bought a new pair of Kurt Geigers. My husband and I, and 120 of our guests toasted our nuptials with Veuve Cliquot, and we swigged Cristal like it was going out of fashion on our honeymoon – in the words of MIS TEEQ – ‘I weren’t sipping if it weren’t Cristal’ love.
Fast forward 10 years, juggling a new business, household responsibilities and two iron-willed children, Prosecco has become my fizzy crutch (aside from the Gin). Not least because one can grab a bottle of the stuff for less than six quid in the Co-op – that’s five bottles of extra dry Prosecco for around the same price of one bottle of Moet. And let’s face it, one bottle doesn’t touch the sides does it really? Especially in the school holidays when we are faced with fractious, bored, bickering kids all day long. Thirsty Thursdays can’t come quick enough after three ‘dry’ days, and once again, come Sunday eve, my outside bin resembles an overflowing bottle bank.
I still love nothing more than a glass of perfectly chilled champagne on a special occasion. But with age and an ever decreasing disposable income, I’ve come to realise that a bottle of bubbles doesn’t have to cost the same as a pair of designer shoes for it to hit the spot.
Take Sainsbury’s Blanc de Noirs Brut and M&S Oudinot Brut; both are award-winning, delicious and under 20 quid a bottle, and on Saturday, whilst road-testing the new Brunch menu at The Champagne Concept in Harrogate, I learnt that well-known Champagne Houses; Taittinger and Moet & Chandon use the leftover grapes from a lesser-known Champagne House; Roger Manceaux – a Champagne House that charges a mere fraction of the cost of a bottle of ‘Tat’ or ‘Moet’ to create a champagne that is on par with anything from any of the big brand Champagne Houses, if not better. And certainly not using ‘leftover’ grapes.
Roger Manceaux Premier Cru Rose was liberally poured into my glass on arrival at The Champagne Concept at 10.30am on Saturday morning. The first of two glasses forming part of their new £20 a head weekend brunch menu.
This quirky little Champagne shop opened its doors in October 2016 and sells a 50-strong range of Champagnes from nine different boutique Champagne houses from across the Champagne region ranging between £30 and £150. And if the ‘house’ stuff is anything to go by, one need never buy a bottle of Bolli again.
Their main business is tasting experiences and of course selling bottles of the stuff, however last weekend (August Bank Holiday) saw the launch of a pretty cool collaboration between the Champagne Concept and neighbouring Baltersen’s – a rustic deli come cafe which claims to offers the best Yorkshire-sourced ingredients prepared with Scandinavian inspiration. A match made in heaven really – Gravlax and Champagne – the ultimate start to the day.
Brunch is available between 10am and Noon on Saturdays and Sundays and twenty quid gets you two glasses of bloody decent Champagne (white or/and rose) and a choice of Smoked Gravlax on sourdough toast served with a perfectly poached duck egg and Hollandaise sauce. Or avocado on toast with chicken, roast tomatoes, fennel and garlic aioli. Or if you have a sweet tooth, go for the (seriously huge) waffle served with fruit compote, Maple syrup, salted caramel and banana. All served to you by next door’s staff and accompanied by freshly squeezed orange juice and bottomless tea and coffee. Yes that’s right, all that for twenty smackers.
The cute little shop sits on a pedestrianised street in Central Harrogate with outdoor seating – perfect for a long and lazy champagne-soaked brunch. Laurence and his team are fizz fanatics so don’t be afraid to ask questions and quiz their fizz knowledge – it’s all part of the fun and what makes this little gem of a place a champagne lovers’ experience, rather just another boozy brunch.
Every town needs a Champagne Concept; I was surprised to hear that this little place is currently one of a kind. Let’s hope they open one in Ilkley sometime soon so I can champagne-brunch-it every weekend without having to travel too far.
I’m adding The Champagne Concept’s Ultimate Tasting Experience to my Yorkshire Bucket List. Watch this space.
Thanks to Laurence and his team for a perfect start to my Bank Holiday Weekend.
Find out more here: http://thechampagneconcept.co.uk/