Why growers' champagne is centre stage at Bubbledogs
The most hyped restaurant launch this year, Bubbledogs, which opened this week in London’s Fitzrovia has naturally focussed on the hot dogs but of equal significance, I reckon, are the ‘bubbles’ or champagnes that they serve.
This is, of course a restaurateurs’ dream - pairing a high cost product with a low rent food which makes the business model viable and elegantly disguises the fact by serving artisanal growers’ champagnes rather than big name brands. A glass of Bolly and a dog just looks like a cynical attempt to rip off the punters. A bottle of an artisanal champagne like Bérèche or Benoit Lehaye, albeit at up to £199 a bottle*, is the height of cool.
Chef James Knappett’s attitude to food and wine matching is set out in a very interesting manifesto which you can find if you click on the news section of the site. Apparently he used to work at Per Se in New York where “we were encouraged to expand our minds and provide guests with food, wine, and service like they'd never experienced before.
When it came to food and wine matching, we were encouraged to think outside of the box - beyond the classics. We found that caviar also goes well with ice cold sake and that Stilton also goes well with a late harvest Riesling.”.
The hotdogs and bubbles combo was a no-brainer, he says: “greasy, spicy, salty meatiness with an ice-cold glass of refreshing bubbles. Hot dogs with beer (also with bubbles), champagne with caviar (also salty and oily), Prosecco and Cava (bubbles!) with cured meats (salty, fatty and sometimes spicy meatiness), equals … CHAMPAGNE AND HOT DOGS!”
A similar exercise is being undertaken at Champagne + Fromage, another recently opened restaurant in Covent Garden which is run by an importer called French Bubbles. Their bistro serves tartines and cheese and charcuterie boards which are paired with their selection of 25 growers’ champagnes. They also run monthly champagne and cheese masterclasses that “teach guests how to get to grips with grapes, how to pair cheese and Champagne, and the difference between regions, producers and production techniques.”
Other specialist importers of grower champagnes include Vine Trail and the oddly named Smarter International which supplies restaurants including the Lanesborough and the Bleeding Heart but most merchants have at least some on their lists. You can find others in this very useful article in the industry magazine Imbibe. Vine Trail’s wines are on show the Dirty Dozen tasting in London on Setpember 12th.
*Admittedly that's for Jacques Selosse's Substance blanc de blancs. Champagne by the glass starts at just £6.50 (for Gaston Chiquet's Selection Cuvée).
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