In News, Wines, Recipes & PairingsJanuary 10, 2024

Celebrating Champagne & French Fry Day

Eight Top Notch Champagne Pairings and one Wildcard...

Here in NZ, chips, or French fries, are a real national treasure. To celebrate, we’ve paired eight of our Champagnes (and one wildcard bubbly) up with their ultimate carby soulmates.

Andre Clouet NV Grande Reserve Brut Blanc de Noirs + Curly Fries

Winemaker Jean-François is sometimes described as having a flamboyant personality, dubbed by one guest as ‘a combination of winemaker and circus ringmaster,’ so it’s only fitting that his signature drop pairs with the not-so-humble curly fry.

“He is daringly creative, with a distinctly modern twist to his approach… His are rich and concentrated expressions of pinot noir, wines of deep complexity, multifaceted interest and engaging character, yet with remarkable restraint and sense of control.” says Champagne expert, Tyson Stelzer, and we believe therein lies the obvious tie in to the ‘rich’ and ‘engaging’ shape and seasoning of the spiralled morsel we all not-so-secretly delight over.

Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Réserve + Standard Cut Fries

Don’t fix what ain’t broken – the Bille’ Brut and the satisfying standard chip are both firm ‘tried & true’ contenders in our book. Where you can’t go wrong, you’ll always go right. 

The Billecart Brut Réserve is far and away our most beloved entry-level NV in our portfolio with a slew of dedicated fans behind it because it’s so elegant and consistent. James Suckling says “I drink this regularly and always enjoy it.” Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas calls it “A Champagne for any occasion…” so some could say it really is the ‘standard cut’ of Champagnes. Sure to please, with a touch of crispness (not too much) and a light, satisfying core. Twinsies! 

Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Nature + Homestyle Chunky Fries

Sometimes you just gotta go ‘au naturel’ and we reckon the Brut Nature with zero dosage and a good hot homestyle chunky are a match made in heaven. 

“A dense, layered Champagne with a full body and lots of texture.” says James Suckling – and had he not specified ‘Champagne’ then you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d been snacking up a storm in your mum’s kitchen enjoying some chunky well-seasoned home-cuts. Drink up and chow down, this could be you sorted for the weekend!

Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Rosé + Kūmara Fries

Sometimes you just need to ‘level up’ your chip and spring for the Kūmara fries for a bit of va-va-voom, and it’s the same with your Champers – you need a hit of pink to make it really pop!

“Pale orange. High-pitched red berry, orange zest and jasmine aromas, with suave mineral and smoky lees notes adding complexity,” says Stephen Tanzer for Vinous, and if those aren’t notes you want to sip up alongside a crispy, hot, sweet and salty chip singing of Aotearoa, then we don’t know what are! The fruity zing and creamy lees in Bille’ Rosé make for a wonderful partner to our humble and beloved Kūmara fry. 

Larmandier-Bernier NV Latitude Extra Brut + Shoestring Fries

Larmandier-Bernier is synonymous with dry, crisp and immensely fine organic Champagnes and the name is music to any somm’s ears. Its no-dosage, extra-brut edge cuts the rich and slightly oilier shoestring fry perfectly. 

It’s a well-known contradiction that sparkling wine and greasy food are, oddly, a match made in heaven seeing as the acidity can cut through the grease and leave you with the best of both worlds when it comes to savouring the flavour of both elements. “Lovely lemon freshness at first but also a light yeasty note. Fine, lively mousse, really crisp and tight with a long citrus finish,” says Jancis Robinson. So pop the top on this liquid elegance and then get down and dirty with a good, crispy shoestring. The shinier, the better!

Charles le Bel ‘Inspiration 1818’ Brut by Billecart-Salmon + Crinkle Cuts

The chip we know and love, but with a different face… and the Champagne we know and love, with a different face! These two are kindred spirits – being the ‘other side’ of the coin to the standards. 

Every year, Billecart-Salmon vinifies base wines from more parcels than it actually needs for the production of its main cuvées. Some of the wines are bottled to be part of their secondary wine, Charles Le Bel Inspiration 1818! We feel this backstory lends itself perfectly to the Crinkle Cut chip. The Crinkle Cut is similar to the standard chip, but is a bit different… It holds sauces and seasonings better than its straight-edge cousins but doesn’t see quite the spread that they do… but we know their crinkly, delicious secrets. Much like we know of Billecart’s secret second label!

Champagne Bouby et Fils NV Brut Sélection + Waffle Fries

For the folks out there wanting something a bit bolder, this pairing is wow wow wow. A punchy, bold Champagne with a chip that has it all – crunch, texture, intrigue and supreme dippability.

This Premier-Cru grower’s Champagne really punches above its weight, with a considerable percentage of its blend being Pinot Noir & Meunier. This is a fairly muscular, full-bodied style of Champagne. Despite its power, there’s a gracefulness to the palate. The wine finishes with a lovely creamy mouthfeel that would simply meld deliciously with a mouthful of crunchy waffle fry slathered in garlic butter.

Billecart-Salmon 2005 Le Clos Saint Hilaire + Gold Truffle Fries

Okay, let’s just dream for a second here. The Billecart Salmon Le Clos Saint Hilaire is as iconic as they come, it comes from a one-hectare plot of Pinot Noir vines that were planted in 1964 and it sits behind the winery. “These vines give rise to some of the most fascinating and flamboyant wines in the Billecart portfolio.” says Matthew Jukes, so we ought to find them a pretty premium counterpart here…

Enter… truffle fries. Crispy, earthy and savoury at their core, it’s about the only way you’ll ever have a ‘fancy’ fry. The flavour and aroma of truffles are so very unique and forest-floor-esque, making it the ideal companion for a 100% Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs cuvée. Any parmesan sprinkled over the fries will offer a nutty edge that would beautifully mirror the brioche flavours and offer some good oiliness for the Champagne to cut through and dance with. 

Not enough? We’ve heard there are places that offer your truffle fries with gold-dust sprinkled on… do with that knowledge what you will, and godspeed. If you opt to try this pairing, we implore you to let us know so we can swoon!

Wildcard: Digby Fine English NV Brut + Chippies from your local

We know Digby isn’t technically a Champagne and we’re all about Champagne & French Fries today, but who says we can’t switch it up a little bit, in the spirit of innovation. 

English Sparklers are starting to turn heads recently, as the English summers warm up and winemakers have started to clue onto the fact the soils – including loads of pure chalk and sandstone, have serious untapped potential. Critics have started to clue on too: “Rich, creamy wine (I almost wrote ‘champagne’)” said Bob Campbell MW, “a good blend of vibrant/youthful and mellow/mature characters. An absolute pleasure to drink.” 

We reckon this English fizz is the perfect accompaniment for a scoop of chips from your local Fish & Chip shop. There’s no denying that they taste different to other fries. Whether it’s the oil that’s always hot, the newspaper wrapping or the complete freedom in the way there’s no rules to how you eat them, they are as beloved a pastime meal for the English as they are for us Kiwis. The humble ‘Fush & Chup’ shop chippy, as enjoyed through the veneer of ruleless abandon, is a refreshing and fitting match for the English Fizz that’s changing the game.