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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

Champagne should not be bottled in halves, according to Jacques Pters, cellarmaster and chief winemaker for Veuve Clicquot, who has been with the company since 1979. Speaking after the UK launch of the Veuve Clicquot 1995 Grande Dame and 1996 Ros Rserve, and a tasting of the Ros Rserve spanning several vintages back to 1970 (all in either bottle or magnum), Pters was prompted by a disappointing half-bottle of Veuve Clicquot 1995 Vintage Rserve ordered in a central London restaurant. It stinks,' he said, with admirable honesty, after a cautious first sniff, adding that the cork was not the problem. He explained that he had always been opposed to half-bottles of Champagne, but his opinion had been overridden. Asking for the cork of the offending demie, and decoding the disgorgement date as 1999, he went on to protest that even vintage Champagne in halves should be consumed within a year of disgorgement. Whenever a customer orders Champagne,' he stressed, it must be good - at least.' Handing the sommelier his card, he asked him not to sell any more of the half-bottles and offered to replace them with bottles. Pters also said he had always regarded the Clicq, the click-on device for drinking still smaller (20cl) bottles of Veuve Clicquot Brut straight from the bottle, as marketing', but was happy for it to go ahead earlier this year because the quality of the wine was not compromised.