Champagne in the Cotswolds

Last Tuesday, The Finest Bubble team headed northwest to the beautiful southern corner of the Cotswolds, our destination, the town of Winchcombe, a hidden gem tucked away between the rolling hills of the Gloucestershire countryside. A charming getaway, the town is perhaps most famed (in our minds) for family-fun Restaurant 5 North Street. Opened in 2003 by chef Marcus Ashenford and wife, Kate, it was awarded a Michelin star just one year later, an accolade it has retained for over a decade.


After admiring the 400 year old timbers on the exterior of the building, we quickly settled in and before long, were discussing what we most like to discuss. Whilst appreciating the age of the building, one of the quirks of its layout was highlighted to us – the wine cellar is accessed through a trapdoor in the women’s bathroom! Once onto our favourite topic (that’s wine, not women’s bathrooms), we opened our first bottle without any more hesitation.

Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2002 The first bottle we opened, although one of the finest Blanc de Blancs champagnes on the market, had big competition from the other bottles to come. Wonderfully light and fruity, and so youthful, its complexity surprised us all. This was very, very drinkable and hard to put down. Furthermore, it really stood up against its premium competition, a fantastic surprise and a great start to the afternoon.

Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1996 A TFB favourite, the 1996 Oenothèque has yet to disappoint. It showed superbly last week, still astonishingly young, with the complexity we’ve come to expect from the 1996 vintage.

Louis Roederer Cristal 2002 Wow, this was truly fantastic and the highlight of the afternoon. Very sharp and focused, this displayed all the characteristics of the exceptional 2002 vintage. Beautiful freshness at first, then hits you with a kaleidoscope of fruit. Bravo!Overall, it was a terrific day, perfect location, delectable food and the champagnes showing well to boot. Our thanks go to Gus and Kate for the truly wonderful food and service – we’ll no doubt be back in the Cotswolds and that women’s bathroom before too long!