I drove to Victoria Moore’s upstairs flat in Fulham, part of a Victorian era building, which has a beautiful pale oak herringbone parquet floor. She’d just put her daughter Francesca, 18 months, to bed. Every so often throughout our conversation, I’d hear a few noises from the baby monitor.
Victoria immediately opened a bottle of British fizz, Wiston Estate, to go with a home-baked plate of cheese gougères. I wasn’t expecting it, but she set about cooking dinner, pasta with tomato sauce. Pale and slim with shoulder length dark hair, she talks quickly, precisely, articulately; ideas opening up mid-sentence.
Are you a wine expert? Have you a Masters of Wine qualification?
No. It’s very difficult and expensive. I don’t want to be trained in the same way as everyone else. I slightly rebel against the way they want you to write their tasting notes. Everyone always assumes you want to do Masters of Wine, but there’s all sorts of stuff I am interested in knowing. I enrolled on a masters course in psychology for three years instead. My thirst for learning more came out in that way.
There’s far more money in booze than in food it seems.
There’s a lot of money in spirits, not so much in wine. Producers are smaller; it’s all hand-made.
Spirit companies have a product they can make more of. People go on about beer but you can expand your brewery in five seconds. Look how quickly Brewdog grew. A winery could never grow that fast. They have one harvest a year; they can’t harvest them until they are 3 years old. Wines don’t produce really good grapes until they are in their teens, twenties, thirties. For instance, this is a 2010 wine we are drinking.
Eight years old. How much does a bottle of this cost?
That’s not bad.
Champagne’s gone more expensive now. This is a proper product.
Is this how Champagne used to be in France?
I don’t think anybody knows the answer to that question. You can’t replicate it.
British sparkling wine is winning a lot of prizes. It’s very brut. I lived in France for a long time; the French often drink demi-sec with dessert.
The taste in Champagne used to be sweeter. The fashions dip up and down over the years. There is a slight trend here back towards both sweeter and drier champagne. For sweet, think of Moet’s ‘Ice‘, 55g sugar per litre, and Lanson’s White Label, that sells so well. In the wine trade they say, “people talk dry and drink sweet”.