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Now’s the best time for Champagne

Champagne should not just be an event.

It deserves to be an ongoing pleasure.

Not all of us can see our way to drink it every day but the inspiriational words of Mme Lily Bollinger should keep our thoughts focused.

You’ve undoubtedly heard them before but here they are again:

Taste Champagne This Magnificent LIfe
A lovely way to wind up the tasting; a glass for Patsy and one for James

I drink champagne when I am happy and when I am sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it — unless I’m thirsty.”

(She said that in London in 1961 when she was in town to declare her 1955 vintage. She was from the 1901 vintage herself.)

Even if we don’t have our own magnificent champagne house surrounding us we can still stay mindful of planning for our next bottle.

That thought is certainly in the minds of more and more Australians. We are reminded of this by no less an authority than Tyson Stelzer whose Taste Champagne roadshow is making its way round our fair country.

Where does Australia rank in bubbles?
Taste Champagne This Magnificent LIfe
Tyson Stelzer welcomes the crowds at Taste Champagne Australia in Sydney

At Taste Champagne at Sydney’s Four Seasons Hotel, Tyson told us that in 2018 the biggest markets, France and the UK, continued to shrink but the rest of the world soldiered on, consuming almost half the total production.  Fifteen years ago it was around a third.

Australia can hold its flutes high. We have posted an almost ten fold growth since 2001. Globally we are now Number Five per capita and knocking on Belgium’s door to take Number Six in total consumption.

Taste Champagne This Magnificent LIfe
The red sash of Mumm dominates its offering

This year his roadshow presented us with 78 estates – 42 négociant houses, 30 growers and 6 co-opératives. A total of 214 different cuvées to taste… yum.

Naturellement Tyson has tasted them all and you can read all about them in the sixth edition of his book, The Champagne Guide 2020-2021, to be released in September.

Taste Champagne This Magnificent Life
Billecart Salmon a rose that is quite correctly much admired

Is the tightening in Europe affecting the quality of the wine? Not at all. He tells us: “Selling champagne has become more challenging but I am giving the best scores ever for the wines I am reviewing this year.”

Lets take a walk around the room

More than seventy names with logos in typefaces hundreds of years old through to modern jazzy scripts are on tables around the room all politely asking your attention.

What a lovely sight. Winston Churchill would have loved it

Many you will know. The medium to large  houses with a long history in this country like Bollinger, the Heidsiecks (Charles and Monopole), Moet & Chandon, Mumm, Pol Roger, Roederer, Taittinger, Veuve Cliquot … on to Ayala, Billecart-Salmon, Brimoncourt, Canard- Duchêne, Henriot, Jeeper, Larmandier-Bernier, Nicolas Feuillate, Perrier Jouët, Pommery, Ruinart, Veuve Fourny.

Adrien introduces one of our favourite newcomers to the scene

That’s just twenty.

Another fifty or so to go. 29 of them are first timers at this show in Australia. Bottle after bottle you may not recognise but they are of one breed.


Only one area in one part of France. One methode. Three grapes.

Taste Champagne This Magnificent LIfe
The Taittinger family climaxes with the legendary Comptes 2006

All making their own mark within a tightly structured domain. Singular wines with sometimes dramatic and sometimes tiny differences from their neighbours. A delightful landscape of intense endeavour. You could spend your life here and not know them all.

Elizabeth shows us the champagne with the fascinating back story

But Tyson comes close.

For more in formation on all matters champagne go to

Taste Champagne Australia 2019 

There are still two more Taste Champagne 2019 events:

Brisbane – Sofitel Brisbane Central – 6-9pm Monday 19th August 2019

Melbourne – Plaza Ballroom – 6-9pm Monday 26th August 2019

Want to taste close up and personal?

Tyson is organizing tours of the Champgne region in September.

To register your interest, go to

[email protected]

Or call 0413 935 321

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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia's more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say 'no' to a wee dram.

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