Jennifer Saunders on drinking Bolly in Champagne with Joanna Lumley

by The Listener / 14 September, 2018
RelatedArticlesModule - Jennifer Saunders Absolutely Champers

Absolutely Champers.

After all their fake Bolly quaffing in Absolutely Fabulous, it’s a wonder that Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley weren’t packed off to the Champagne region of France years ago. In Joanna & Jennifer: Absolutely Champers they investigate how the bubbles are made.

You must have pinched yourself when you and Joanna were asked to host this special?

It seemed like something we should have thought of ourselves and took very little time to decide we wanted to do it.

What were you most looking forward to when you headed off to Champagne?

I think the thing I was most looking forward to was spending time with Joanna. We don’t get to hang out together as much these days as we no longer make TV together and I miss that. That combined with a couple of glasses of champers.

Has making the show had an effect on your decisions when buying a tipple?

Yes, definitely. Seeing the whole process from beginning to end you appreciate the work, expertise and the time that goes into every bottle and you therefore understand the expense and also the reason why every champagne is different. They are as different as every wine. Every aspect of the production affects the taste.

Were you inspired to take up a vineyard lifestyle?

No. It’s far too much like hard work. The glamour is where the champagne ends up. Champagne producers – for all the sophistication of the end product – are farmers, and to have a chance I would have had to have started years ago to understand half of what they know.

The tour of Champagne Bollinger must have been an absolute highlight.

Bollinger was a highlight and an honour, as they don’t do tours for the public. And to sit in Madame Bollinger’s dining room and drink vintage Bolly is something I will never forget. I may never taste a champagne that good ever again.

Would you be keen to become more fluent in French to keep up with Joanna?

She’s really not very fluent. In fact if you slow the tape down you’ll find she’s just speaking English with a very heavy accent and the French people are just pretending to understand her out of politeness.

What would be your first area to revisit or recommend to a friend as a must-do?

The thing to do is a little bit of research. Get some of the smaller champagne houses recommended and don’t just stick to the big ones. Taste a wide variety and learn how they are made and what the expectations of the house are. There is so much more to champagne than I ever imagined and the more you know the more you enjoy.

JOANNA & JENNIFER: ABSOLUTELY CHAMPERS, Living, Sky 017, Sunday September 16, 8.30pm

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