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Bursting Bubbles


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Table of Contents

Foreword - Andrew Jefford Disclaimers Prologue Part 1: Where we follow sparkling Champagne's remarkable metamorphosis from faulty to fabulous Myth 1: In the name of the father: Dom Perignon was the father of Champagne Part 2: In which we drive along a haunted racetrack in search of a singular grower and discover, not for the last time, that all is not what it seems in the world of Champagne Part 3: Where we meet the revolutionary parents of modern Champagne - science and industry Myth 2: First place: Champagne was the original sparkling wine Part 4: In which the author travels to the mountain to meet the rock of Ambonnay, tries to get blood from a stone and ends up leaving on better terms than when he arrived Myth 3: The good and the great: Grand cru vineyards produce the best wines Part 5: Where we head to 'Rahnse' to visit the cathedral and then travel south to Epernay, for a stroll down the legendary Avenue de Disney Myth 4: Silver spoon: Placing a spoon in the top of a Champagne bottle helps preserve the bubbles for longer Part 6: In which the wine traveller drives south from Epernay to Avize and discovers that all that glitters is not gold Part 7: Where we encounter more threats to Champagne's 'Great Wine' pretensions and find out what conventional Champagne has in common with baked bread, roasted nuts and seared steak Myth 5: Holy Trilogy: Only three grape varieties are used to make Champagne Part 8: In which we pay a visit to Pascal Agrapart, and where the author acknowledges that he can sometimes miss what is right under his nose by playing the man and not the ball Part 9: Where we unearth even more image problems for Champagne (by comparing the 'approach Champenois' with best practice in Burgundy) and where we learn that the English are the necrophiliacs of the wine world Myth 6: Blending is better: Champagne is blended in order to produce a better balanced, better quality wine Part 10: In which the author tries to comprehend Anselme Selosse via a blend of pop psychology and historical minutiae and then plays word games with the man himself Part 11: Where we blend a few things together in order to produce a histoire vraie of Champagne and then explore the extent to which the brand has come to dominate land in this famous region Myth 7: Simple fizzics: Where bubbles come from Part 12: In which we head south to Vertus and visit a great grower making 'crazy wine' in order to remind ourselves, once again, that Champagne is a wine, first and foremost Part 13: The continuation of our histoire vraie, where the author views advanced capitalism through the rosiest of glasses and perhaps takes the friendship too far by comparing the history of Champagne to that of Camembert and free-range chicken Myth 8: The shape of things to come: Champagne should be served in flutes Part 14: In which we travel from Vertus to the historic market city of Troyes, all the while grappling with the ideologies of Champagne's separatists Part 15: Where the author discusses the problems with the term 'grower revolution' and then offers the reader a choice between two radically different worlds of Champagne Part 16: In which we visit our first Aube grower and learn what it means to be an outsider in your own wine region Part 17: The final instalment of our histoire vraie, where the true grower revolutions are revealed - and yes, there were more than one Myth 9: In the beginning: Champagne is mentioned in the bible Part 18: In which we visit a vigneron farmer - or is that a farmer vigneron? Part 19: Where we delve into the remaining key factors that led to the development of Champagne's current batch of great grower-producers Myth 10: Bursting Bubble: Smaller bubbles are a sign of a high-quality Champagne Part 20: In which we visit the last of our growers in the Aube and learn that, no matter how seriously we take it, wine's main work is to make us happy Epilogue: A short manifesto in which the author asks you, the wine lover, a simple, somewhat rhetorical question: 'What sort of Champagne do you really want to drink?' Notes Acknowledgements Bibliography Index

About the Author

Robert Walters is a respected wine merchant, vineyard owner and writer with over 25 years of experience in the trade. His deep knowledge of the Champagne region comes from working with some of the pre-eminent growers of Champagne from Europe, Australia and New Zealand for close to 15 years, giving him a unique perspective.


'Bursting Bubbles by Robert Walters is the most provocative wine book I've read in a while." - Henry Jeffreys, taken from his article in The Guardian, 'The best books on drink of 2017'; 'Bursting Bubbles is an absolute pleasure to read from start to finish. Packed with insightful perspectives, Robert Walters captures the people and history of Champagne unlike any other book. It's very rare that a book on wine manages to fit both wine experts and novices equally. Whether you consider yourself an expert on Champagne, or you've never popped a cork in your life, Bursting Bubbles has plenty to offer both ends of the spectrum and everyone in between.' - Derek Morrison, The Good Wine Shop (Independent Champagne Retailer of the Year 2017) & Co-Founder of "Grower Champagne Month"; 'It all gets off to a cracking start, since the author is a gifted writer who gives a delightfully engaging account of his epiphany, his unconditional surrender to the charms of the great grower Champagnes in God's little acre. Robert Walters writes not because he wants to sell more; he simply thinks that the wines are brilliant and that the story of their creators should be told'. - Michael Edwards, The World of Fine Wine; '...This is part history lesson, part travel adventure story and wholly entertaining to read. It reminds me of Kermit Lynch's Adventures On The Wine Route' with an Australian accent.' - The Wine Depository; "We have all been sold a pup, albeit a glossy-looking, expensive one. Most champagnes, even those made by the prestigious brands, are confections that have little to do with terroir (the natural environment of the grape) or the qualities that distinguish good wine. Big manufacturers discovered that wines of inferior quality could, when sweetened and sparkled, be sold to the wealthy as a prestige product. Out of this naked commercial opportunism came what Robert Walters calls, in this refreshingly iconoclastic book, "the world's first mass-market party drug". Fortunately for those of us who love fizz in our wine, a small and growing number of winemakers in Champagne are now drawing on the skills and knowledge that had been lost to the region to make "exceptional wines that just happen to have bubbles". " - The Age, Australia; "... this is a meticulously researched and scholarly work but it is written with verve and wit. In addition to a fascinating historical examination, Walters explodes numerous myths, which will amuse any lover of wine trivia." - Australian Financial Review; "...the most refreshing, pretension-pricking, myth-busting and amusingly unfrothy book on the subject I've read." - ANDREW JEFFORD, Multi-award-winning author of The New France and columnist and contributing editor for both Decanter and The World of Fine Wine.; "In the tradition of Kermit Lynch's Adventures n the Wine Route, Bursting Bubbles is a wonderful and informed exploration of the best grower Champagnes and the characters who make them. It shatters old myths and reveals new truths, making Champagne - the place and the wine - as intriguing, beautiful and magical as ever." - ANDREA FROST, award-winning author of Through as Sparkling Glass and columnist for and The World of Fine Wine.; "Rob Walters' approach to Champagne (and to wine in general - and to life!) in this beautifully written book is so cheerful and entertaining that one risks not realising how thoughtful and informative it is as well - a risk that I would advise any wine lover to take without hesitation." - JESUS BARQUIN, Award-winning co-author of the The Finest Wines of Rioja and Northwest Spain and Sherry, Manzanilla and Montilla and the co-founder of Equip Navazos.

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