Category Archives: Champagne

Nine Affordable Sparking Wines for the New Year

Everyone can celebrate a sparkling New Year with one of these great choices priced between $16 and $36.

My choices range from Brut to dessert sparklers, plus one over-the-top Champagne.img_1133-rustico

Prosecco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Nino Franco. 100% Glera (traditionally called Prosecco) from classic production area hillside vineyards situated at medium to high altitude. Pressing, destemming, cooling of the must and fermentation takes place in steel tanks at controlled temperature. Second fermentation is in “cuvee close” (Charmat method). $18

Chevalier de Grenele, Saumur MousseuxNV in magnum. Caves Louis de Grenelle.  Made from Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc with 9 months aging on the lees.grenelle

Under the streets of the Loire Valley town of Saumur, miles and miles of chalk caves meander. Carved centuries ago, many were dug with prison labor under the direction of the king of France. There are so many streets underground that they actually outnumber the streets above ground. Two and a half kilometers of underground caves belong to the Cave of Louis de Grenelle, the last remaining family-owned property of the major Saumur sparkling producers. All of the bottles produced by the cave are stocked here, under the city, and left to age for several years. Louis de Grenelle has been producing wines in this location since 1859. It has hints of hazelnuts, mint and a touch of licorice. At $40 for the magnum, it is a great buy.img_8540-lars

Cuvee Aurora Rose Alta Lange 2012 DOC 100% Pinot Noir Banfi, Piemonte. The grapes are grown in the hilltop vineyards of the Alta Langa, south of Alba in Piemonte, in a mix of clay and calcareous soil. There is one hour of skin contact and cold maceration, which prepares the grapes for soft crushing. The must is clarified and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The final cuvee consists of 90% clear wine and 10% of the previous vintage wine. The wine is aged in French oak barriques. Fermentation takes place in the bottle (Classic Method). Yeast contact is extended for at least 24 months followed by a traditional hand riddling (remuage) on pupitres and degorgement a la glace. A period of brief aging follows. The wine is pink in color, with small bubbles and hints of strawberry and apple.

Ferrari Perlé 200 Trento DOC Method Classico Vintage Blanc de Blancs 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are harvested by hand in the middle of September from a hillside owned by the Lunelli family, owners of Ferrari, around the Trento vineyards. The vineyards are 300 to 700 meters above sea level with a southeasterly or southwesterly exposure. The wine remains for about 5 years on the lees. It is a crisp dry wine with hints of apple, almonds and a touch of toast. $36img_6018-lambruscao

Lambrusco di Modena Spumante Brute Metodo Classico DOC 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara- Cantina Della Volta (Emilia Romagna). This red wine is obtained by a selection of the best Sorbara grapes entirely gathered in small cases (max. 37 lbs.) by manual harvesting. The grapes are carefully handled in order to prevent them from being crushed during transportation to the winery. The clarification of the must is followed by fermentation at controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. After resting for at least 6 months the wine receives selected yeasts prior of being bottled. The bottles are then stored horizontally in piles for the re-fermentation process in a constant ambient temperature of 53°F. The last steps are the remuage, disgorgement and the addition of liqueur d ’expedition. This is a dark red wine with wild strawberry aromas and flavors and hints of other red fruits and berries. $29img_2652-grangano

Cantina Federiciane Montelone di Napoli Gragnano DOC Sorrento Peninsula 2010, made from Piedirossa and Sciascinoso. Fermentation with selected yeast takes place in temperature controlled autoclaves.  This is a fizzy red wine that when poured has a lot of foam that quickly disappears in the glass. It is fruity with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of raspberries and strawberries, and easy to drink. In Naples they often drink sparkling beverages with pizza and Gragnano goes very well with pizza margarita. $16

The next 3 are from Piedmont and all have a certain degree of sweetness.

Fontanafredda Asti Spumante DOCG is made from the Moscato Bianco grape, also known as Moscato Canelli.  It is a sparkling wine produced by using the Charmat method. It is low in alcohol, about 7%, and has aromas and flavors of peach, honey and tropical fruits. It should be drunk young because the wine is at its best when it is fresh. $1602_vietti_moscato_dasti

Vietti Moscato D’Asti “Cascinetta” DOCG 2014 is made from the same grape as Asti and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is only slightly sparkling (frizzante) and it is vintage dated while Asti is not. It should be drunk as close to the vintage date as possible. The two wines share the same DOCG $16

Banfi Vigna Regali “Rosa Regale” Spumante Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG 2014 is a sweet wine and it is most famous as a red sparkling wine. Made by the Charmat method. It is made from the Brachetto grape. It has intense berry flavors and aromas, especially strawberry, and goes very well with chocolate and all kinds of chocolate desserts. $20

I have written 3 articles this month on Champagne:

https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/12/26/vintage-champagne-for-the-new-year/

https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/champagne-ed-mc-carthy-on-vintage-blanc-de-blancs-champagnes/

https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/blanc-de-blancs-champagne-with-champagne-ed-mc-carthy/

but I just have to mention one more, Dom Perignon Rosè.

At the Wine Media Guild Champagne tasting and lunch the topic was Blanc de Blancs Champagne. Toward the end of the lunch Christina Jacobs asked me if I wanted to taste another Champagne, it was Dom Perignon Rose 2004. Made from 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay more or less. She only had one bottle.img_2014

It may be the best Rosè Champagne that I have ever tasted. This is powerful, complex and elegant Champagne. There are hints of raspberry, cranberry, apricot, spice and so much more. It has a very long finish and an aftertaste the just goes on and on. Christian is the Champagne specialist for Moet-Hennessy, producers of Dom Perignon. It is expensive around $345 but worth the money if you are so inclined.

Happy New Year!

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Champagne Ed Mc Carthy on Vintage Blanc de Blancs Champagnes

Ed McCarthy then spoke about Vintage Blanc de Blancs. They are made from the best  grapes from the choicest vineyards. The aromas  and flavors are more concentrated and  are more full bodied.

Ed

Ed McCarthy and friend at the WMG Champagne Tasting and Lunch.

They are aged longer which adds more complexity and the grapes are from one vintage which is always an above average year or an excellent one. He said that for him vintage Champagne was the better buy conceding the quality but added not every occasion calls for vintage Champagne. He likes vintage Champagne with dinner and non vintage Champagne as an apéritifs.

Vintage Blanc de Blancs

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Champagne Ayala 2008 Grapes are from 5 villages on the Cote des Blancs: Oger, Avize, Cramant. Vertus and Cuis. The wine rests in the cellars for 6 years after disgorgement, in order to develop complexity, intensity and roundness on the palate. It has hints of grapefruit, pastry dough and a hint of spice. Ed likes this house a lot but did not think the bottle he tasted was drinking that well. $85img_1993

Philippe Gonet, Belemnita, Grand Cru, 2005 this is the flagship cuvee of the house.  Single site in Le Mesnil sur Oger, planted in 1929.  9 years on the lees, 3 grams dosage, only 300 cases produced. Very complex wine with honey and truffle notes and secondary aromas.   Belemnita is the name of this cuvee which is their top as DP is to Moet or Comtes is to Taittinger. This champagne has an extra-brut dosage and is only made in exceptional years. It has tiny bubbles with hints of dried fruits, honey, grapefruit and a touch of hazelnuts and cashews $300

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Domaine Dehours, Brisefer, lieu-dit, 2005, 1.3 ha site specific plot in Mareuil le Port in the Marne normally planted to Meunier. This site was planted to chardonnay. Aged on the lees for 7 years. 3 grams dosage. Neutral barrel fermented. This is a wine with citrus flavors and aromas, with hints a grapefruit and apple and a touch of vanilla.  $95. 

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Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2009 The wine matures on the lees for five years and left for a minimum of 6 months after dégorgment to attain maturity. Ed said there is no dosage and no malolatic fermentation. The wine has floral notes and hints of white fruit, almonds and mint. $85img_1999

Champagne A. R. Lenoble 2008 Chardonnay from the Grand Cru village of Chouilly. The dosage is 4g/l. Only 10% of the wine is vinified in wood and there is a very light dosage. The wine has hints of pear, apple and a touch of lemon. $64img_2001

Champagne Bruno Paillard 2006 Chardonnay grapes from the Còte des Blancs, all with a 100% classification. The fermentation method they use was established generations ago for Champagne “Demi Mousse”. When the still wine is decanted for the second fermentation in the bottle, less sugar and yeast is added than for traditional Champagne. This results in a less powerful bottle fermentation, producing a pressure of 4.5 kg instead of the normal 5 or 6. The dosage is 5 grams residual sugar. Ed said this is perfect for Blanc de Blancs because it enhances the finesse of the Chardonnay and adds freshness and elegance. This is a complex, elegant Champagne with an array of aromas and flavors with hints of citrus, white fruit, a touch of brioche, toasted almonds and good minerality. It has a long finish and very pleasant aftertaste. $90img_2003

Champagne Pol Roger 2008 made from grapes from the Grand Crus of the Cõte des Blancs: Oiry, Chouillu, Cramant, Avize and Oger. There are two débourbages (settlings) one at the press house immediately after pressing , the second “a froid” in stainless steel tanks at 6C for 24 hours. A slow fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with each variety and each village kept separate. There is full malolactic fermentation prior to the final blending. The secondary fermentation takes place in bottle at 9C in cellars 33 meters below street level. It remains here until it undergoes remuage (riddling) by hand a rarity in Champagne today. The wine has hints of grapefruit, apricot and a touch of apple. Produced in limited quantities, this cuvee has been aged for 7 years in the cellars before release. $115. This Champagne was showing very well. img_2004

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2006 Ed said this is one of the few remaining family owned and operated Champagne houses. They age their wines for a long period before release. It is located in Reims, France. This is a complex Champagne with hints of citrus fruit, lime blossom and a touch of grapefruit. Ed is a big fan of this Champagne house and of this wine. It was one on my favorites. $130img_2006

Champagne Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs 2002. This was by far the most expensive Champagne at the tasting. The grapes come from the best vineyards and Ed had mixed emotions as to whether it was worth the money. He added it may be one of the best Blanc de Blancs made but it needed more time especially in an exceptional vintage like 2002. There was some controversy about this wine, Ed really liked it but I felt the bottle I tasted was off. $325img_2007

Champagne Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millénaires 1995 Chardonnay from the Cotes des Blanc, 4 Grand Cru and 1 Premier Cru. The wine remains in the cellar for 15 years before release. Ed said that they were one of the few houses in Reims that have a magnificent, 2,000 year old Gallo-Roman cellar to age their wines. This is complex Champagne with aromas and flavors of dried and candied fruits, dates, and notes of hazelnuts and almonds.  $195

 

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Blanc de Blancs Champagne with “Champagne” Ed Mc Carthy

“Champagne Ed” Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies, presented 18 Blanc de Blancs Champagnes for the Wine Media Guild’s tasting and lunch at The Leopard at des Artistes in NYC.

Ed said that Champagne Blanc de Blancs (white from white) could only be made from Chardonnay grapes.

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Ed McCarthy

Many Champagne houses believe in the traditional philosophy that blending is better and therefore do not make a Blanc de Blancs. About 5% of all Champagne made today is Blanc de Blancs. Even though most Blanc de Blancs are lighter in style than the traditional blended ones, they can age and are best from 8 to 10 years from the vintage date.

Fuller bodied Blanc de Blancs from the Grand Cru villages, such as Krug Clos du Mesnil, Salon and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, can age for 15 to 20 years or longer.

Champagne has a 300-year history but there was no Blanc de Blancs before 1920. It was Eugene-Aime Salon, founder of the house of Salon, that made his first vintage in 1921. Though popular in the 1920’s and 1930’s, Blanc de Blancs almost disappeared after Salon’s death in 1943. Taittinger in 1952 came out with the now famous Comtes de Champagne, a Blanc de Blancs, and the vintage appeared in 1957. Blancs de Blancs was here to stay.

The dosage for these lighter in style Blanc de Blancs is usually 5g/liter. It is the lightness and dryness that makes them perfect as an aperitif or with a first course like fish and seafood. Most Blanc de Blancs are more expensive than traditional Champagne because of the high price of the Chardonnay grapes.

Ed said that the great years for vintage Champagne are 1996, 2002 and 2008, which are on the market now.

The Champagne img_1986

Champagne Barons de Rothchilds NV in magnum. The grapes come from the Còtes des Blancs.  40% of reserve wine is used. There is a low dosage and long aging after disgorgement, 6 to 9 months. Cellar aging is for at least 3 years. The wine has citrus aromas and flavors with white fruit notes and hints of apple and almonds. $207img_1987

Champagne Collet NV most of the grapes come from the Cote des Blancs region and is made from 6 crus. It is aged for a minimum of five years in hundred-year-old chalk cellars, which is longer than the regulations require. The dosage is 7.5 grams per liter. It has floral notes, with citrus aromas and hints of grapefruit and wild flowers. $55 img_1988

Champagne Mumm de Cramant NV  There are almost 218 hectares of vineyards rated 98%, which are mainly on the eight most renowned Grand Crus: Aÿ, Biuzy, Ambonnay, Verzy, Cramant, and Mailly-Champagne. 25% of the production comes from here, 75% is from independent growers. The grapes are picked between the end of September and mid October; about 100 days after the vines have flowered. As required by champagne appellation rules, picking is by hand. After pressing, the must is stored in vats for two weeks between 18°C and 20°C alcoholic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation always takes place but is not required by the appellation rules. In the cellars the liqueur de triage triggers a second alcoholic fermentation and the bubbles gradually form. As the bubbles form, the pressure inside the bottle increases, reaching as much as 6 bars.

Ed said that in this wine there was less pressure so the bubbles were not as forceful. It was one of the first Blanc de Blancs Champagnes introduced in1930. It is fresh, crisp, dry, light bodied with nice fruit aromas and flavors and a touch of white peach. $64img_1989

 Champagne Henriot NV  This is one of Ed’s favorite houses and one he feels does not get the attention it deserves. It is a blend of grapes from the Cote de Blancs and the villages of Mesnil- sur – Oger, Avize, Chouilly and others. The assembly consists of 30% reserve wine, the percentage can change depending on the vintage. This is wine with hints of orange blossom, honey, apricot and a touch of brioche. $55  Ed says that this Champagne House deserves to be better known.img_1990

Champagne Ruinart NV Chardonnay is the very soul of the winery with grapes coming mainly from the Cote des Blancs, and Montagne de Reims terroirs. In the cool of the underground chalk tunnels, the wine slowly matures in the bottle. In 1768 Ruinart acquired former Gallo-Roman chalk quarries (the Crayères), hollowed out under the city of Reims to a depth of 38 meters. The site extends over three levels with eight kilometers of galleries. There is a constant temperature of 11°C with no vibrations and a perfect humidity level. This is Champagne with nice citrus aromas and flavors with hints of apple and apricot. $72img_1991

Champagne Gosset Grand Blanc NV  Ed said this was the oldest continually operating Champagne house but it is not as well known as it should be. The grapes come from 15 different Premier and Grand Cru vineyards of the Cotes des Blancs and Montagne de Reims. The wine is on the lees for a minimum of four years before disgorgement.  The wine has floral aromas, with hints of white fruit, apricots, and a touch of lemon on the palate. $77img_2018

Extra Brut NV. Philippe Gonet, 3210, NV  Cuvee. The numbers stand for 3 years on the lees, 2 vineyard sources (50% Le Mesnil and 50% Montgueux.  Montgueux is chalky and is considered a non-classified GC of the south. The fruit is fuller but also has minerality from the chalk.  Le Mesnil gives tension, freshness and salinity on the mouth.  1 is for 1 cepage and 0 is for zero dosage. It is marked extra brut but there is no sugar added.  50% of the cuvee is reserve wine from a solara started 10 years ago. The wine has floral notes, a touch of toast and hints of apricot, peach and lime. It has a fresh and lingering finish.  $75.
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 Champagne Andre Jacquart Mesnil Brut Nature NV Malolactic fermentation does not take place, a minimum of 5 years on the lees before disgorgement and zero dosage. 70% of the wine is aged in old Burgundy barrels. Ed said that the grapes come from the best villages in Champagne. This is elegant champagne with hints of pear and peach with a long and fruity finish. Ed was very impressed with this champagne and it is a bargain at $70. Ed said this was the NV Champagnes with the most body, which is typical of their style.

 

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Champagne, Wine and Ravioli with Truffles

Our friends Ernie and Louise De Salvo invited us to their home for a special lunch featuring the season’s first white truffles. Their grandson Steven De Salvo, who is a terrific cook, would be assisting in the kitchen. I knew that Ernie would choose just the right wines to complement the meal.img_1845

We started with the Champagne Gosset “Celebris” Vintage Extra Brut 2002 made from 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot from Grand Cru grapes. This is complex Champagne with tiny bubbles, floral aromas and citrus fruits aromas and flavors, a hint of lime and a touch of vanilla. 2002 was an excellent vintage for Champagne.img_1838

We had this with dates stuffed with foie gras, nuts and Parmesan cheese wafers.img_1846

Barolo Bussia “Dardi Le Rose” 1995 Poderi Colla made from 100% Nebbiolo from the hamlet of Dardi in Bussia Soprana di Monforte. It was the first to be vinified separately by Beppe Colla in 1961 and identified on the label. The vineyard has a south/southwest exposure and is at 300 to 350 meters. The vines were planted in 1970 and 1985 and there are about 4,000 vines per hectare. It is aged in oak casks for 24 to 28 months. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red berries, tar, liquorice and tea. This is a classic Barolo.img_1848

Stephen prepared delicate ravioli in a brown sauce stuffed with duck breast.img_1843

Ernie showered the ravioli with white truffles. The combination was exquisite!img_1854

Barolo Monfortino Riserva 1997 Giacomo Conterno 100% Nebbiolo from Serralunga’s Cascina Francia vineyard. The exposure is south/southwest and the soil is calcareous limestone. They use wooden vats with regular breaking-up of the cap. The wine is aged for 4 years in large oak barrels. Another classic Barolo with hints of tar, tea, leather, red berries and faded roses.img_1851

With this we had Ernie’s interpretation of a classic Osso Buco served on whipped potatoes.img_1858

A 375 bottle of Sauterne Chateau Doisy-Véderines 2001.Made from 80% Semillon,15% Sauvignon and 5% Muscadelle. Fermentation in temperature controlled steel vats for a week and then the must is transferred to barriques for about 20 months. This is a full-bodied Sauterne with hints of apricot, orange blossom and a touch of honey and marmalade. It is a dessert wine that will age.img_1856

With it we had a rich Italian style cheesecake.

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A Thanksgiving with a Difference

Sometimes Michele makes a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and sometimes she cooks something completely different. This time it was completely different

We started with smoked duck breast, cashew nuts, green olives and foie gras on toast with fig jam.img_1861

For an aperitivo, we drank a Franciacorta Bellavista Grand Cuvèe Brut 1989 Classic Champagne Method. The wine today is made from 80% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Bianco but I do not know what the blend was in 1989 and they have since changed all their labels and the names of the sparkling wine.img_1865

The next wine was a Champagne Blason de France Perrier-Jouèt, A Epernay Brut Rose NV Prestige Cuvèe. Made from 50% Pinot Noir, 15% Meunier and 25% Chardonnay. The dosage: 10g/l and it matures for at least 3 years in the house cellars. This is a powerful wine with a distinctive flavor, roundness, hints of red fruit and a touch of brioche. I do not know how old it was but I do know this label is not used anymore. It was a perfect combination with the foie gras and fig jam.img_1875

The next course was mushroom soup made with chanterelles and other mushrooms, a splash of Cognac and finished with cream.

We began with the Roero Arneis 2001 from Bruno Giacosa. Made from 100% Arneis. The wine was showing very well. It had a depth of aromas and flavors that one would not expect from a 15 year old white wine. I was not surprised because I had the 1974 a few years ago and it was showing very well.img_1869

Volnay 1er Cru “Les Santenots” 1972 Domaine Potinet Ampeau. At a dinner with such remarkable older wines this was my favorite. It was all one could ask for from a Burgundy.img_1860

Our main course was a pork loin roast stuffed with mortadella, accompanied by a potato and Fontina gratin prepared by one of the guests, green beans with Parmigiano Reggiano and Brussels sprouts with pancetta and walnuts from Michele’s book, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook.img_1879

With it, we had the Vino Nebbiolo Sori Del Turco 1971 from Gaja. Angelo Gaja’s father made the wine. I would think it was 100% Nebbiolo but back then they often added Barbera to the blend. This is a classic wine with all the aromas and flavors of the Langhe.img_1871

We finished the main course and the cheese course with a magnum of Villa Antinori Chianti Classico 1964.

The wine was in excellent condition which did not surprise me because I had the Antinori Chianti Classico 1943 not too long ago. So much for those who say Sangiovese does not age. Sheldon Wasserman in his classic book “The Noble Red Wines of Italy” has a tasting note dated 1/83 on the magnum. He gives it one star and says it might be drying out. He was wrong. This is a wine with body and hints of cherry and blueberry, Chianti Classico just the way I like them.

Our dessert was roasted chestnuts and fresh fruit, followed by an airy pumpkin chiffon pie prepared by our friend Diane Darrow  https://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com for the recipe

We finished the meal with Romano Levi Grappa and cafè.

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Celebrating My Birthday: What We Ate and Drank

My birthday falls on August 24, the same day as Mt. Vesuvius’ most famous eruption. But instead of destroying Pompeii or Queens, I like to celebrate with the pop of Champagne. This year’s celebration lasted for a few days, and this is what we ate and drank.IMG_1030

Michele and I started with breakfast at Tarallucci e Vino on 28 Street. We had cappuccino and cornetti, Italian croissants.IMG_1029

Michele’s was made with whole wheat and filled with honey, and I had the “normale” or plain.  IMG_1027

We had lunch on the terrace of our apartment and Michele made open faced smoked salmon sandwiches with butter and crème fraiche on pumpernickel bread. With them, we drank a bottle of Taittanger NV Champagne.IMG_1024

The next day we went to Bouley for lunch. It is one of our favorite restaurants because of the food, professional service, beautiful décor, and comfortable and quiet atmosphere. I am very disappointed that it will close in October. If you have never been, or want to experience it again, better make reservations now.

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The Sea Urchin

I started with a glass of Champagne, Robert Moncuit, Brut, Blanc de Blanc. Then the tasting menu.

I had the Malibu Sea Urchin, the Foragers Treasure of Wild Mushrooms, followed by Organic Calves Liver and three desserts. It was superb. We drank a BurgundyIMG_1039

Every year very close friends Ernie and Louise invite us to their house to celebrate my birthday and make some of my favorite dishes. This year they also invited their son Jason and his wife Deborah to join us.IMG_1096

We started with an appetizer of melted gorgonzola cheese and pine nuts on toasts and artisanal salami from their local butcher. With it we drank a Rose Champagne.IMG_1099

The first course was a cold Cantaloupe and Ginger Soup with  Champagne.IMG_1097

The wine seemed to have a hint of ginger, too and it went very well with the soup.IMG_1100

The main course was Grilled Marinated Lamb Skewers.

The cubes of meat were alternated with thick slices of bacon and squares of bread. They were grilled to perfection. The bread picked up the smoky flavors of the bacon and the lamb juices.IMG_1103

With this we had a magnum Cote Rotie that was a perfect match.IMG_1105

For dessert, we had fresh fig ice cream accompanied by pignoli cookies.IMG_1106

Then café,

IMG_1108 and  last a Marc de Bourgogne, one of the best I have ever had.

It was was a great Birthday celebration with a lot of “pop”

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Taittinger Champagne, Calvisius Caviar and Jacques Torres: Christmas in July

The program read: Champagne Taittinger presents The Art of Celebrating The Holidays, Christmas in July.

IMG_0839 As soon as I arrived I was given a glass of Taittinger Champagne and bottles of Taittanger Champagne were everywhere. One room featured oysters, clams, shrimps and lobster to go with the Champagne.IMG_0855

It was shaping up as quite an event and the Taittinger Champagne and Calvisius Caviar seminar that I had signed up for was not going to start for another half hour.

Chantelle Pabros, Vitalie Taittinger and John Knierim

Chantelle Pabros, Vitalie Taittinger and John Knierim

The moderator for the seminar was Vitalie Taittinger, Aristic Director, Taittinger Champagne.IMG_0857

She said that Taittinger is one of the few remaining family owned and operated Champagne houses. It is located in Reims, France. Its distinctive style is influenced by a greater proportion of Chardonnay in the blends and a longer aging period before release. The panel members were Chantelle Pabros, Sommelier, and John J. Knierim from Calvisius Caviar.IMG_0856

John said that Calvisius is an Italian company located in Calvisano, between Milan and Venice. It is the world’s largest farmed caviar producer accounting for 20% of global caviar production from its 150 acres of sustainable aquaculture pools.IMG_0834

There were four champagnes matched with caviar. The Caviar was on small metal spoons next to each champagne. John said caviar should only be served using mother of pearl spoons because a metal spoon could change the taste. Since we only had metal spoons he suggested we put the caviar on the out side of our hand just below the thumb and taste it that way. IMG_0845

Champagne Taittinger Brut La Française NV made from 40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier. This is a champagne with aromas of peach, white flowers and brioche with fresh fruit and a touch of honey on the palate. $59.99

Paired with Calvisius Caviar Traditional Prestige. White Sturgeon (Acipenser Transmontanus) from the Pacific Coast of North America between Alaska and Baja California. The eggs are large, about 3 millimeters, color: dark gray to black. It requires about 11 years of the sturgeon life cycle. Delicate and elegant with hints of cream, butter and sea salt. 28 grams $74.99IMG_0846

Champagne Tattinger Prélude Grands Crus NV made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. Fresh citrus aromas and flavors with hints of white peach and a touch of cinnamon. $94.99

Paired with Oscietra Caviar Oscietra Classic (Acipenser Gueldenstaedii) Also known as Russian Sturgeon. it is an ancient species originally native to the Black Sea, Caspian Sea and the Azov Sea. Medium size eggs 2.6 to 2.9 millimeters. It requires a 12 to 13 year life cycle. It is a firm egg, dark brown in color with a golden hue. It has a rich nutty and creamy flavor with a hint of the sea. It was a perfect combination with the croissant and brioche aromas and flavors of the Champagne. 28 grams $ 119.99IMG_0847

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006 100% Chardonnay. This is a complex Champagne with hints of citrus fruit, lime blossom and a touch of grape fruit. $198.99

 Paired with Calvisius Caviar Siberian from Siberian Sturgeon (Acipenser Baerii) native to the fluvial basins of Siberia, from the Ob river to the Kolyma river and in the Baikal Lake. Its caviar has size that varies with age, 2.2 to 2.7 millimeters, in shades of grey and amber. It requires 6 to 8 years of the sturgeon life cycle. 28 grams\$ 261.99IMG_0848

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosè 2006 Made from 30% Chardonnay and 70% Pinot Noir. Delicate bubbles, complex aromas of strawberries, cherries and black currants and a touch of almond on the finish. $261.99

Calvisius Caviar Oscietra Royal. Special selection of Oscietra that has large grains that are dark brown with shades of amber. The roe has a velvety firm texture evoking rounder and more balanced flavors than the Classic. It is rich and creamy with notes of butter, hazelnut and a touch of the sea. 28 grams $139.99

John said that in theory this should not have paired well but to him it was one of the best pairings and the other two panel members agreed.

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Jacques Torres

On the way out I saw in another room Jacques Torres, the famous chocolate and confectionary maker.IMG_0861

I sampled all of the chocolates, the macaroons, the chocolate cookies and last but not least the chocolate caramel popcorn.

It was an evening to remember and I kept thinking why wait for the holidays to celebrate with Taittinger Champagne, Calvisus Caviar and Jacques Torres chocolates? it was all so wonderful on a summer evening in NYC.

For more information www.taittinger.fr and http://www.calvisius.com

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