Cheshire Life and Alderley Edge Hotel Champagne Oscars 2010

The latest winner at the prestigious Cheshire Life/Alderley Edge Hotel Champagne Oscars dinner was a favourite at the Russian court, as Ray King reports

The coveted Champagne Oscar trophy was this year presented to the House of Louis Roederer, appointed official supplier to the Romanov court in St Petersburg by Tsar Nicholas II.  

The award was made with all due ceremony during magnificent celebratory dinner at the Alderley Edge Hotel with four of the grande marque’s finest bubblies - and a superb claret from Roederer’s own chateau in Bordeaux - accompanying six gourmet courses.

In what has become one of the major occasions in the county’s social calendar, it was fitting that the family firm acclaimed by many connoisseurs as producer of the best Champagne in the world should be honoured where Champagne is most appreciated.

Cheshire’s own celebration of the King of Wines was launched following the revelation by a national wine merchant that more champagne was sold through its Alderley Edge branch than in either Mayfair or Chelsea.

The award was conceived by Ahmet Kurcer, general manager of the Alderley Edge Hotel and former Cheshire Life editor Patrick O’Neill, as a light-hearted response to the provincialism of the London-based food and wine writers who view the North through a haze of stereotypes.

But, as the evening’s master of ceremonies, the writer, broadcaster and former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, John Stalker, explained, the event is now regarded as very serious business by the leading lights in France’s Champagne country around Reims and Epernay.

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Louis Roederer’s ambassador Guy Cliffe was joined by local champagne lovers and celebrities for the award of the ornate silver and gilt trophy, hand crafted by Warris & Company of Sheffield, silversmiths entrusted to care for the FA Cup, by Mr Kurcer and Cheshire Life’s publisher, Andy Phelan.

Louis Roederer proved a worthy winner in every respect among the Oscars’ judging panel, led by Mr Kurcer and comprising Louise Taylor, editor of Cheshire Life, Mr Stalker, entrepreneur Max Essayan, the Alderley Edge’s wine consultant Harold Lievesley, David Garlick of wine company D&D International, Dr Jo Emery, and Ray King, Cheshire Life’s food and wine writer.

The Louis Roederer style, epitomised by Brut Premier NV, derives its richness from the dominance of pinot noir in the blend and the generous proportion of aged reserve wines tempers the fresh fruitiness of youth with elegant maturity. The jewel of the house is Cristal, created in 1876 for Tsar Alexander II of Russia and still one of the most celebrated of all prestige cuv�es.

Though Tsar Nicholas II appointed Roederer as official supplier to the Imperial Russian Court, the revolution of 1917, followed two years later by Prohibition in the United States, cost the company its two most important markets. Recovery owed much to the fortitude of one of Champagnes’ celebrated widows; Camille Olry-Roederer took over the reins at one of the most critical times in the house’s history and steered it back to its former glory. 

Champagne Oscars dinner menuCanap�s, accompanied by Brut Premier and Roederer's 2003 Cannelloni of smoked duck and foie gras, hibiscus flower jelly, pumpkin jam and duck scratchingsTerrine of monkfish and young leeks, langoustine espuma and tomato confit, served with Louise Roederer Blanc de Blancs 2004Sirloin of rose veal with black truffle crust, pur�e of Jerusalem artichoke and saut�ed cabbage, served with Chateau Haut Beausejour Cru Bourgeois 2007Baked crotin of marinated goats cheese, sweet and sour beetroot and spiced port wine fluid gel, served with Roederer Carte Blanche NVLiquid centre blackberry and cassis mousse, sous-vide tangerines, jelly and meringue