Cheshire Life and Alderley Edge Hotel Champagne Oscars 2012

Oh, how lucky were guests at the 13th Alderley Edge Hotel/Cheshire Life Champagne Oscars dinner! The house of Perrier-Jouet and award-winning chef Chris Holland and his team created a sublime occasion. Words by Ray King Photos by John Cocks

No doubt about it: Cheshire folk do get their kicks from champagne.The local thirst for the King of Wines inspired the creation of the Alderley Edge Hotel–Cheshire Life Champagne Oscars, whose celebrations for 13 years have been among the most glamorous events in the county’s social calendar.

This year the coveted trophy, hand crafted b y Warris & Company of Sheffield, silversmiths entrusted to care for the FA Cup, was awarded to the historic house of Perrier-Jouet, founded in Epernay in 1811 by newlyweds Pierre-Nicolas-Marie Perrier and his wife Rose-Adelaide Jouet. Their romance amid the vineyards led to Perrier-Jouet being dubbed the most passionate of all champagnes.

Receiving the trophy from Ahmet Kurcer, general manager of the Alderley Edge Hotel and Louise Allen-Taylor, editor of Cheshire Life, Perrier-Jouet’s UK ambassador Neil Phillips said: ‘We are delighted, as a house, to be here today and this award is very important to us. We started importing to the UK in 1815 and received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria in 1861.’

Perrier-Jouet may not have ‘invented’ champagne on whatever night that happened to be, but the innovation of the founders’ son Charles saw the introduction of the dry style of champagne we all enjoy today.

The champagnes most enjoyed by hotel guests during the last 12 months contend for the ‘Oscar’ trophy, though no previous winner is considered again for five years. Perrier-Jouet, with its delightfully delicate style, was the unanimous choice of the panel led by Mr Kurcer and comprising Mrs Allen-Taylor, award-winning independent wine merchant Ruth Yates, entrepreneur Max Essayan, businessman Charles Ledigo, wine expert David Garlick, debutant judge Dr Brendan Smith and Ray King, Cheshire Life’s food and wine writer.

The presentation was followed by a superb gala dinner in the hotel’s Laurent Perrier suite, for which the three AA Rosette Alderley Restaurant’s head chef Chris Holland – deservedly named Chef of the Year in the recent Cheshire Life and Lancashire Life Food and Drink Awards - and his brigade once again demonstrated a kitchen at the absolute top of its form. The Alderley Edge Hotel’s new Brasserie also carried off the award for Cheshire Restaurant of the Year.

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Guests who had been greeted with canap�s and Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut, the marque’s elegant flagship non-vintage wine, enjoyed three more champagne styles with the menu’s five outstanding courses. The stunning starter of Gateau of Cured Foie Gras, Smoked Duck and Winter Truffle, Muscat Jelly and Spiced Date was matched with Perrier Jouet Grand Brut 1998 – a standout vintage.

The fish course, an amazing Deconstructed Bouillabaisse comprising sea bass, langoustine, sweet scallop, gossamer sliver of squid with saffron emulsion, crisp bread and soft herbs, came with Perrier Jouet’s most prestigious cuv�e, Belle �poque 2004 in its fabulous bottle enamelled with intertwined Art Nouveau anemones.

A superb combination of Slow Cooked Oxtail stuffed with Wild Mushrooms alongside Beef Wellington and Onion Relish was partnered with a velvety smooth Rioja, Campo Viejo Reserva 2007; glasses being topped up to accompany a delightful Baked Goats’ Cheese Crotin, Hazelnut Crumble, Toasted Thyme Brioche and Port Syrup.

Pink champagne, whose popularity continues to head skywards, accompanied dessert. Perrier-Jouet Blason Ros�, expressing great finesse and delicate strawberry and raspberry notes, was perfect with the winning collation of Spiced Pannacotta, Orange and Almond Cake, Steeped Tangerines and Crumble Biscuit.

How lucky were guests to be at the 13th Champagne Oscars?

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