I challenge you to a duel…

For those whose attention it may have escaped, yesterday was the two hundred and twenty – first anniversary of ‘French Practicality’ (more commonly known as Bastille Day) and brought a rambunctious conclusion to the week of celebrations down here at the Borough Marche.

Amid our tricolour bunting and walls bedecked with both French and St George’s flags, an opportunity was spotted to put the “Entente Cordiale” through its paces and, as any self-respecting English Wine retailer would, we dusted off our proverbial gloves to challenge our French cousins at their own game. The Challenge? 2011’s Decanter Gold and Trophy winner, Ridgeview Grosvenor 2007 v one of Reims oldest Champagne houses, Veuve Clicquot Yellow label. The Prize? A personal favourite of Wine Pantry, Ridgeview’s Knightsbridge Blanc de Noirs.

All that was missing was one of Les Mis’ more rousing numbers, which we made up for by wearing a tutu and promising not to decapitate people for getting it wrong.

Patrons were presented with two flutes, one simply marked with a blue dot. The question: where (or where not?) did the blue dot bubbles hail from? What made the stakes all the more interesting was the �14.00 difference between the two (Veuve �38.00 v Grosvenor 2007 �24.00). Currently on offer at Robertson Wine for �29.95 http://www.robersonwine.com/shop/brut-yellow-label-veuve-clicquot!!!

So, before we get down to the nitty gritty, a quick analysis of the competitors:

Weighing in with a 2007 vintage was the Ridgeview Grosvenor Blanc de Blanc.� 100% Chardonnay cuvees can be fussy sparklers to get right but Mike and Simon Roberts have excelled themselves. A delicate silvery gold, its exceptional mousse with bright, well formed bubbles was all elegance � but with a brilliant bite.� On all important palate terms – the well-balanced acidity, lemony sherbet and the softest tropical notes danced against well executed brioche notes.� Overall, it was a glass of beautiful and, uplifting freshness that more than one punter went starry-eyed over.

Now enter Veuve Yellow label, a little NV from that grandee of the grandees (in sparkling wine regions terms), Champagne.� From 1772, Veuve’s motto has been ‘only one quality, the finest’ and this cuvee does pay homage to that belief.� Its distinctive nose, smaller bubbles�and very fine mousse spoke of its heritage, while its juicy citrus-driven palate balanced out its toastier yeasty notes.

The results? Our brilliant maths skills indicate that 75% picked each flute’s origins correctly (although there was a Frenchman who got it wrong!), whereas it was a more clean-cut fifty/fifty for personal preference.� Saying that, there was a good handful who were well and truly surprised to find themselves preferring the English entry (yet another Frenchy who was mildly distraught to have been ‘tricked’ into rejecting her usual favourite � Veuve… and refused to leave the shop without buying the English contender.)

It was a good bit of fun that was also, technically, an incredibly interesting social ‘wine’ experiment.

Congratulations to our lucky winner as well- drawn at random today�- the lovely Naomi and her partner! A bottle of Ridgeview’s Knightsbridge is waiting, on ice, for you.

Sante & Cheers to all.

Words: Dominique Hopgood