Every Friday TheChampagneSommelier will ask 5 questions about 5 coeur de bouteilles to friends and Champagne lovers from near and far. This week Björnstierne interviewed Australian wine writer Sara Underdown.
Sara Underdown is a wine writer specialising in champagne and contributes to a number of print and online publications. In Australia, she publishes a boutique and independent magazine dedicated exclusively to telling the story of champagne called VINE & BUBBLE.
- She is WSET Level 3 qualified, a two-time finalist in the prestigious Vin de Champagne Awards,
- Shortlisted in the 2019 Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards.
- In 2020, became a finalist in the Born Digital Wine Awards for best interview.
Which Champagne would you treat your parents or in-laws?
‘Neither my mum nor my mother-in-law drinks champagne – except for a small glass around Christmas or a celebratory occasion. What a shame! However, if I was selecting something specifically for my mum, I would choose a good blanc de noirs because it lacks the sharper acid edge of chardonnay. Egly-Ouriet’s ‘Vielles Vignes’ NV comes to mind. It’s a remarkable old vine pinot noir champagne from Ambonnay, vinified in barrique, with around 40% reserves added to the blend and low dosage. It’s textured, intensely flavoured, and vibrant – built for food. She would love it.’
Which Champagne would you treat your lover?
‘Rosé of course. My husband loves this style anyway, so it’s a natural choice. I would select a bottle of Charles Heidsieck ‘Rosé Réserve’. Its appeal goes beyond its ocular seduction. Forget words like brioche and apple, it’s much more exotic than that. There’s curry leaf, rose petal and strawberry jam – and that’s just the start. With red wine included from Lés Riceys, it’s a multi-layered champagne of tremendous vinosity and heady aromatics as well as being textured with velvety tannins and pert with joyful acidity.’
Which Champagne would you treat your boss?
‘I enjoy introducing people to something new and challenging their thoughts on champagne. I’d select something like Benoît Déhu ‘La Rue des Noyers’, which (despite being no dosage) is vinous and complex. It’s a 100% organically farmed meunier, vinified in oak using trees from the neighbouring forest of Fossoy. There’s no malo and no fining or filtration. It’s a paradox; a big fruit presence with ripe phenolics yet very focused, fresh and pure.’
Which Champagne would you treat yourself?
‘Cristal – it goes without saying. 2008 is just starting to reveal its personality now, with a more relaxed elegance, which I find very attractive. I’m also enjoying 2007 and I had a remarkable bottle of 1999 last year. I lose myself in Cristal’s other-worldliness; it’s so delicate, effortless and
delicious. One of life’s great masterpieces.’
Which Champagne would you treat a dream guest, and why?
‘If Katharine Hepburn were a bottle of champagne, she’d be a vintage blanc de blancs; classy, racy and with lots of finesse! Larmandier-Bernier ‘1er Cru Terre de Vertus’ comes to mind because it represents the purity of calcareous soil it originates from. It’s super-saline with lovely fruit succulence; full of flair – just like Katharine!’
What piece of music would you listen to drinking champagne dream with guest?
‘Something fitting for my guest, from the 1940s, which was the golden age of Hollywood. Maybe the Glenn Miller Orchestra?’