joe robertson has Champagne
Joe Robertson Media Archive

…wasn’t too dry and that had a good aftertaste.
“We also needed consistency and wouldn’t have gone to a single-vineyard owner – Duval Leroy is one of the biggest non-grande marquee houses.
“House Champagne is most popular with parties. When small groups order Champagne as an aperitif, they prefer recognised favourites such as Bollinger, Krug or Dom Perignon.”
Twelve other Champagnes – all supplied by Lay & Wheeler of Colchester – are listed at Le Talbooth. “It gives enough [ ] and you have to consider space.”
Prices range from £17.20 for Laurent Perrier Brut, through £17.80 for Moet et Chandon Premiere Cuvee to £36.20 for 1976 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanes, Louis Roederer Cristal 1979 and Dom Perignon 1979.
“The more expensive the wine the smaller percentage mark-up we add, for all our wines. Someone who wants to drink a fine wine shouldn’t have to pay through the nose for it. It costs the same to serve as a cheap wine.
“In percentage terms, Champagne is less profitable than other wines but we like to sell it. It cheers people up. When someone orders Champagne you know they’re going to have a good time and they’ll be a good influence,” said Mr Milsom.
Small quantities of Champagne are available in quarter bottles rather than by the glass. Quarters of Moet at £6.20 are displayed in ice buckets on the bar. “They’re more fun than an open bottle and they keep better,” said Mr Milsom.
Five sparkling wines are also listed. They sell best at weddings at Le Talbooth, the Terrace restaurant and through the Quartet’s outside catering business. “We have to give people a choice. Our least expensive sparkling wine, Robe D’Or Brut, is half the price of the house Champagne. A popular aperitif and wedding drink is Kir Royale made with sparkling wine. It’s a very pretty drink which we recommend,” said Mr Milsom.
Less profit more style
Champagne sales are higher than wine sales at ‘30s-style Berlins cocktail bar in Newcastle upon Tyne.
“We sell about 25 cases a week by pushing it hard,” said owner Joe Robertson. “We don’t make much profit on it but it is part of the style we want to create.”
Biggest seller is the house Champagne, Louis Dornier at £10.95 a bottle and £1.85 a glass. Lanson Black Label (£14.95). Moet et Chandon Premiere Cuvee (£15.50) and Dom Perignon 1978 (£39.50) are also available. All are supplied by Grants of St James’s.
“We chose the house Champagne on price and because it is a good-quality, dry Champagne. We have the others because they are well-known brands,” said Mr Robertson.
The price of house Champagne falls to £8 a bottle and £1.50 a glass during happy hours from 5:30 to 7:30pm. A free raffle at 7:30pm wins a customer an opened bottle of Champagne. “Once people order a bottle, others want some too. We serve it in 8oz Martini glasses and it’s eye-catching,” said Mr Robertson.
Rose Champagne was once listed but did not prove successful, and the one sparkling wine listed sells relatively little. The cocktail list includes three Champagne cocktails but a glass of Champagne is more popular.
We drink it ourselves
Champagne represents a quarter of wine turnover at the 60-seat La Belle Epoque in Knutsford, Cheshire.
“In the past five years Champagne sales have soared,” said Keith Mooney, who runs the restaurant with his wife Nerys.
“We drink Champagne ourselves and it has a knock-on effect. When customers see someone drinking Champagne they order it themselves. It’s become a drink for every occasion.”
During the week two-thirds of customers are business people. At weekends this is…