Category Archives: Henriot

Norma: Sicilian Food at its Best

Norma Gastronomia Siciliana in Manhattan is a restaurant that I frequent because of the great food and warm atmosphere.

I have probably tried everything on the menu and friends often ask me to recommend my favorite dishes.  These are some, though not all, of the foods that I often enjoy.

Caponata con crostini e mandorle–Eggplant, celery, green olives, onions, tomato, sweet and savory seasoning, toasted almonds served with crostini.

I like to have the Caponata with the focaccia, hot from the pizza oven.

Panelle– Fried chickpea fritters with garlic and parsley aglio olio sauce.Arancini al Ragu –Saffron rice ball stuffed with Bolognese meat sauce, green peas and served over tomato sauce.

Rianata pizza — Sicilian style with garlic, tomatoes, herbs and anchovies.

Cabucci Porchetta — hot flatbread sandwich with roasted porchetta, arugula, provolone cheese, and herbs.

Timballo di melanzane alla parmigiana- Eggplant parmigiana timbale with mozzarella & parmigiana cheese, basil and tomato sauce.

Pasta Alla Norma — Imported durum paccheri from Gragnano, large tubular pasta with a sauce of fresh tomatoes, eggplant, basil and ricotta salata cheese.

Anelletti Alla Palermitana in Casseruola – Tiny ring shaped baked pasta baked in a casserole with beef & pork ragu, green peas, Italian ham, eggplant, primo sale and ricotta salata cheeses, and basil

 

Cannoli – House made cannoli filled with sheep milk ricotta and pistachios.

Almond Semifreddo with Chocolate  Sauce

Cassata — Sicilian cheesecake

The Wine

Champagne Egly Ouriet   1990 made from 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay from 100% Grand Cru Ambonnay from 50 plus year old vines. Vinification in barrels 25% new. Aged for 8 years on the lees.

Champagne Henriot “Millésime 1988 made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 6 Grand Crus: Maily Champagne, Verzy, Verzenay on Montagne de Reims, Mesnil-su-Oger, Avize, Chouilly on Côte des Blancs. The wine has hints of raspberries and strawberries with a touch of hazelnuts and brioche and a long finish.

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2003 DOC made from 100% Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo Edoardo Valentini  very complex and full with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, melon, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste with that extra something that is difficult to describe. The wine was not showing any sings of age.

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo 2014 DOC made from 100% Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Edoardo Valentini aged in large botti of Slavonia oak for 12 months. With very nice fruit aromas and flavors, a note of strawberry and for a rose’, a great finish and aftertaste. There was some wine left in the bottle and I had it 3 days later.  The wine was still in perfect condition.

Prephylloxera Etna Rosso 2006 DOC Township of Randazzo from the Don Peppino Vineyard. Made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. Right in front and to the right of the cellar in the Calderara Sottana vineyard are two parcels in the midst of the larger vineyards that have survived phylloxera. They are over 130 years old and stand on their own rootstock. Exposure is northern and the soil is black volcanic pumice with some ash. There is spontaneous malolactic fermentation and aging in French oak barriques and tonneaux for 18 months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Cerasuolo, Champagne, Henriot, Norma, Tenuta delle Terre Nere Rosso, Trebbiano d' Abruzzo, Uncategorized, Valentini

The Wine Media Guild at I-Trulli Restaurant

The Wine Media Guild, an association of wine communicators, held its annual end of the year dinner at i-Trulli restaurant in NYC. I was formerly the wine director/sommelier at i Trulli and returning there always brings back a lot of memories.  In addition, Pat Savoie and I were stepping down as co-chairs and David Ransom and Nick Antonaccio. were taking over as the new co-chairs.

There were many great bottles of wine drunk that evening, too many to list here thou I did get a chance to taste some of them

The list below were just the wines that we drank at my table. As always we started with Champagne.

Champagne Henriot “Millésime 2008 made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 6 Grand Crus: Maily Champagne, Verzy, Verzenay on Montagne de Reims, Mesnil-su-Oger, Avize, Chouilly on Côte des Blancs. The wine has hints of raspberries and strawberries with a touch of hazelnuts and brioche and a long finish. Ed (Champagne for Dummies) McCarthy, was sitting at my table, and said this house is finally getting the praise it deserves. Great way to start the evening.

Champagne Deutz Blancs De Blancs 1989 in magnum made from 100% Chardonnay. It has lemon and lime aromas, a note of cream and a touch of hazelnut. It was in perfect condition.

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2005 Eduardo Valentini made from 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. This is one of my favorite white wines. We should have decanted the wine because it took some time to open up in the glass but when it did it was wonderful.

Among the appetizers there were panzarotti, crisp  fried  turnovers  filled  with  tomatoes  and  mozzarella.

Meatballs

For the pasta cause there was  orecchiette with broccoli rabe.  The pasta is handmade by Dora Mazovilla,  the  mother  of  the  owner.

The main course was sliced steak with an arugula salad.

 

Chateau Haut Brion 1983 made from 45% merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc and a note of Petit Verdot. It was a pleasure to drink.

Château Corton Grancey Grand Cru 1999 Louis Latour in magnum. It is a blend of four areas of Domaine Latour Corton Grand Cru: Bressandes, Perrieres, Gréves and Clos du Roi, proportions depending on the vintage. Traditional fermentation takes place in open vats. 10 to 12 months aging in oak barrels, 35% new. Louis Latour cooperage, French oak, medium toasted. This is a wine with supple tannins, wonderful aromas with great length and finish. It also took some time to open up in the glass.

Pormmard Grands Epenots 1979 Hurbet de Montille made from 100% Pinot Noir using a significant proportion of whole clusters, varying by vintage. They are known for wines that can age. It was drinking very well.

Carema 1989 Produttori di Carema (a co-op in the Northern part of Piedmont) made from 100% Nebbiolo. Small plots are hand harvested from various members of the co-op. All the vineyards are southeast facing and range in altitude from 300 to 600 meters. Traditional vinification, the wine is fermented and aged for at least 48 months in large Slavonian oak casks. It has hints of red cherries, red roses; leather and tar. The wine was in perfect condition.

Chateau Coutet a Barsac “Cuvee Madame 1989 made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle. Barsac is technically part of the Sauternes region but its sandy and limestone soil produce a lighter sweet wine with balanced acidity. The wine has hints of tropical fruit, ginger, candied apricot and a touch of honey. It was a perfect way to end a wonderful evening.

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Filed under Bordeaux, Burgundy, Carema, Champagne, Chateau Coutet Cuvee Madame, Deutz Blanc de Blances, Henriot, Uncategorized

Vintage Champagne for the New Year

The NY Wine Press Champagne Holiday Luncheon reminds me every year that the New Year is coming. Harriet Lembeck organizes the event and once again Ed Mc Carthy spoke about Champagne, Vintage Champagne. For the first time, the event was held at the Vanderbilt Suites. There were 13 Champagnes in all: img_2174

Domaine Dehours Brut Rose Oeil De Perdrix 2009 Made from 55% Pinot Meunier, 45% Old-Vine Chardonnay, fermented in Duchêne barriques.  A small touch of red wine is added for color and aroma depending on the vintage. There is very light skin contact on the press.  The nuances are totally different than a full maceration and are elegant and floral. The wines are full aged on the lees and clarified by natural decanting without filtration or fining. The dosage is 2%

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Cathleen Burke Visscher with Domaine Dehours

The estate was founded by Ludovic Dehour in 1930, one of the first independent growers. Today Jéröme, Ludovic’s grandson, is the proprietor and winemaker. The estate is comprised of 42 parcels in the villages of Cerseuil, Mareuil-le-Port, Troissy and Oeuilly and Port-à-Binson at the intersection of two valleys, the Marne and the Flagot. The sites are predominantly north facing. The extensive vineyard holdings allow a large array from which to choose and they vinifiy only a strict selection of the highest quality under his own name and sell 30-50% each year.  The three traditional Coquard vertical presses allow them to press each of the individual parcels separately.

The wines are full aged on the lees and clarified by natural decanting without filtration or fining.

While the estate is registered as a négociant-manipulant, no grapes are purchased, and all of the wines are entirely estate-grown. This was served as an aperitif. At $72 Ed said this was a real bargain.

Ed divided the Champagne into three flights to accompany the food.

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Christina Jacobs with Moet- Hennessy

Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2008 made from 40% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir and 23% Meunier. The dosage is 5g/liter. Ed said that every Grand Vintage is unique because it is the Cellar Master’s personal interpretation of revealing the exceptional personality of single vintage years. 2008 was an excellent vintage. They are the biggest producer in Champagne but the wines are of the highest quality. The wine has hints of citrus fruit and mandarin orange with a touch of honeysuckle and brioche. $75img_2180

Piper-Heidsieck Vintage Brut 2006 made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The 17 crus: 9 Grand Crus, 7 Premiers Crus, 8 Pinot Noir, 9 Chardonnays. In 2006 because of the weather the winemaker reduced the proportion of Pinot Noir compared to past years thus reaching parity between Pinot and Chardonnay to moderate the Pinot’s intensity. The wine was aged for 6 years in the cellars. The wine has hints of apricots and black berries with a touch of spice. $75img_2181

Henriot Millesime 2006 made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 6 Grand Crus: Maily Champagne, Verzy, Verzenay on Montagne de Reims, Mesnil-su-Oger, Avize, Chouilly on Côte des Blancs. The wine has hints of raspberries and strawberries with a touch of hazelnuts and brioche and a long finish. Ed said this house is finally getting the praise it deserves. $85.img_2182

Louis Roederer Et Philippe Starck Brut Natural en 2009 Made from Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay. The grapes are grown in the Côteaux de Cumères. All the grapes from the various parcels were harvested on the same day. They were pressed together all at once, a technique used in the past. The wine was aged for 5 years in the cellars and left for a minimum of 6 months after disgorging to mature. The wine has hints of peach and hazelnuts with citrus notes.

Emma Criswell with Louis Roederer

Emma Criswell with Louis Roederer

Ed said this represents modern, ripe and ready-to-drink Champagne. The first vintage was in 2006  $85img_2175

Served with Seared Scallop, Roasted Caulflower Crema, and Caviar Vinaigrette.

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Second Flightimg_2183

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Brut 2008 Made from 50% Chardonnay from the grands crus of Cramant and Avize, 45% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and 5% Pinot Meuniers from Dizy. The dosage is 9 g/l and the wine is aged for over 6 years in the cellars.The wine has citrus aromas with hints of orange and lemon peel. On the palate there were white fruit flavors and a touch of almonds. $150img_2184

 Veuve-Clicquot 2008 La Grand Dame Brut 2006 made from 62% Pinot Noir and 38% Chardonnay. Verzenay/Avize are the two dominant crus in the blend of eight grand crus from Ciicquot’s own 100% rated Grand Cru Vineyards on the Còte des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims. It has hints of white peaches, apricots and brioche. It needs two or three years from release in order be at its best. $155img_2185

 Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006 100% Chardonnay.  Ed said this is one of the few remaining family owned and operated Champagne houses. The grapes are pressed immediately in presses located in the vineyards. The first pressing, known as the cuvee, is followed by two more pressings known as the first and second “tailles”. Only the juice from the cuvee goes into this wine. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place and about 5% of the wine is matured for a few months in 225 liter new oak casks. Prior to disgorgement the wine is aged for 9 or 10 years. This is their flagship Champagne. Ed described it as being full and rich.  It was toasty with hints of white fruit, good acidity and a long lingering finish.Ed is a big fan of this Champagne house and of this wine. It was one on my favorites. $150

Bethany Burk with

Bethany Burke with Andre Jacquart

Andre Jacquart “Les Mesnil” Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2006 Millesime 100% Chardonnay. 60% from Vertus 1er cru, vinified in stainless steel, 40% Grand Cru Le Mesnil-sur-Olger vinified in older Burgundy oak barrels. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is on the lees for 5 years before disgorgement. The dosage is 4g/l.. Tom Maresca liked the wine so much at the tasting that he served it to Michele and I for our Christmas dinner and his apartment. https://ubriaco.wordpress.com/  It was an excellent choice.

img_2186 It has flavors and aromas of  citrus fruit with a touch of brioche and almonds.   $75img_2176

Served with House Cured Skuna Bay Salmon, Green Chickpeas, Avocado Puree, Mache.

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Third Flightimg_2187

Pol Roger Brut 2006 Made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, the traditional house vintage blend. The grapes come from 20 Grands and Premiers cru vineyards in the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Blancs. The must undergoes two débourbages (settlings, one at the press house immediately after the pressing and the second, a débourbage a froid, in stainless steel tanks at 6°C for 24 hours. A slow cool fermentation takes place under 18°C in stainless steel with each variety and each village kept separate. The wine undergoes full malolactic fermentation prior to the final blending. The wine remains in the cellar until remuage (riddling) by hand, a rarity in Champagne today.

It is aged for 8 years in the cellars before being disgorged and released into the market. This is a full-bodied complex wine with hints of quince and apple with touches of dried fruits, brioche and almonds.$100img_2188

Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Brut 2006 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. Ed wrote in his book Champagne for Dummies, the wine’s “…trademarks are its exquisite balance, its creaminess, its elegance, its very fine tiny bubbles and its complex flavors.” He was also right on the mark when he said, “With age, Cuvee Dom Perignon develops aromas and flavors of toast, coffee and honey.” $150img_2189

Alfred Gratien Brut Millesime 2000 made from 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier and 10% Pinot Noir. They have 1.56 hectares of Grands Crus and Premiers Crus classified vines in the heart of the Côte des Blancs region. They also purchase grapes. Ed said that all operations such as riddling and disgorgment are done by hand. Champagne Krug and Alfred Gratien are the only two Champagne houses that ferment all of their wines in small oak casks, 228-liter barrels. He emphasized the words “old casks” that impart no oak flavors to the wine.

This is an elegant, complex and well-structured wine with hints of gingerbread and hazelnuts and a touch of raisins.  $80  Ed said 2000 is the current vintageimg_2190

Bollinger La Grand Annėe Brut 2005  made from 63% Pinot Noir and 37% Chardonnay. This was one of my top wines. Both Ed and I felt that it would age very well. It is intense, concentrated, rich Champagne with aromas and flavors of toasted brioche.img_2177

Served with Roasted Lamb Chop, Butternut Squash, Maitake Mushrooms, Peruvian Black Mint

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and dessert

Special thanks to Vanderbilt Suites represented by Sharon Colabello, Director of Catering, Eric Basulto, Chef, and Matthew Padvarietis, Restaurant Manager for helping to make it a wonderful event.

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Filed under Alfred Gratien, Andre Jacuqart Champagne, Bollinger Champagne, Dehours Champagne, Dom Perignon, Henriot, Louis Roederer Brut, Moet and Chandon, Perrier-Jouet, Piper-Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Tattinger Champagne, Uncategorized, Veuve Clicquot

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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Filed under Andre Jacquart Mesnil, Barons de Rothchilds Champagne, Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Champagne, Collet Champagne, GH Mumm, Gonet Champagne, Gosset, Henriot, Ruinart Blanc de Blances, Uncategorized

PRESTIGE CUVÉE CHAMPAGNES: CHAMPAGNE AT ITS BEST

 

Ed McCarthy hosted two memorable Champagne tastings and lunches in December for wine journalists in New York City. For the Wine Media Guild event at Felidia Restaurant, Ed spoke about 26 Non Vintage Brut Champagnes. Three weeks later, Ed hosted the second event, held at the Brasserie, where he presented 16 Prestige Cuvee Champagnes for the NY Wine Press. Ed, author of “Champagne for Dummies,” is known as Champagne Ed.

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Champagne Ed Mc Carthy

Harriet Lembeck chair of the NY Wine Press, announced that this was the last year this event would be held at the Brasserie as it will be closing shortly. She thanked Sharon Colabello, the Brasserie’s Director of Catering, for all her help over the years.

Introducing the wines, Ed told us that Prestige Cuvees are made from the finest and the most costly grapes from the best vineyards, usually from all Grand Cru or a blend of Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages. They are aged longer in the producers’ cellars than other Champagnes. The typical Prestige Cuvee ages for five to eight years before release.

Ed said that 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 were excellent vintages in Champagne. He also believes that 1996 was the best vintage of the last 20 years.

First Flight with Hors d’OeuvresIMG_9426

Lanson “Extra Age” Brut NV magnum It is a blend of special vintage years 2000, 2002 and 2004 bringing together the best Champagne Crus using traditional vinification methods. The Pinot Noir comes from the best plots of Verzenay and Bouzy. The Chardonnay from the Cote des Blancs, Chouilly, Avize, Oger and Vetrus. Nice citrus flavors and aromas with a touch of white peach and pear. $190

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Bethany Burke and Champagne Andre Jucquart

Andrê Jacquart Blanc De Blancs Brut Nature Grand Cru NV. No malolactic fermentation takes 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 a 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 $60.IMG_9427

Lamiable “Les Meslaines” Grand Cru 2008 made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from 30/35 year old vines from the Grand Cru terroirs of Bouzy and Tours-sur- Marne. The soil is clay and limestone, the parcel is 6 hectares and the exposure is south. It is at 162 meters with a gentle slope of about 10%. Fermentation in enamel and stainless steel tanks and then malolactic fermentation takes place. Aged for 18 months on the lees. Two to four barrels are used. No new oak. Dosage 8g/l. It had hints of apple, brioche, spice and a hint of ginger. Ed said it needed more time $60

Second Flight with Vegetable CarpaccioIMG_9428

Piper-Heidsieck “Rare” Brut 2002 made from 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay from twelve 100% rated Grand Cru Villages. This needs at least 15 years from the vintage date to develop fully. It was interesting because I found aromas and flavors of spice and ginger with citrus fruit and good acidity. $155IMG_9429

Laurent-Perrier “Grand Siecle” NV made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from 3 different vintages. 12 of the most prestigious villages supply the grapes and only the best plots are selected, as are the finest musts from the pressings. The blended wine is aged during the second fermentation on the yeast for about five years. It has tiny bubbles and complex aromas and flavors that make it go very well with food. $135IMG_9430

Veuve Clicquot “La Grande Dame” 2006 made from 62% Pinot Noir and 38% Chardonnay. Verzenay/Avize are the two dominate crus in the blend of eight grand crus from Ciicquot’s own 100% rated Grand Cru Vineyards on the Còte des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims. It has hints of white peaches, apricots and brioche. It needs two or three years from release in order be at its best. $155

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Christina L. Jacobs Champagne Specialist  Moet Hennessy

Dom Ruinart Blanc De Blancs Brut 2004 Made primarily with premier crus from the Cöte des Blanc and Montagne de Reims. Has both elegance and finesse with hints of fresh fruits, citrus and white peaches. $135

Third Flight with Halibut with Braised Leeks and Champagne SabayonIMG_9432

Taittinger “Comtes de Champagne” Blanc de Blancs 2006. The grapes are pressed immediately in presses located in the vineyards. The first pressing, known as the “cuvee” is followed by two more pressings known as the first and second “tailles”. Only the juice from the “cuvee” goes into this wine. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place and about 5% of the wine is matured for a few months in 225 liter new oak casks. Prior to disgorgement the wine is aged for 9 or 10 years. This is their flagship Champagne. Ed described it as being full and rich.  It was toasty with hints of white fruit, good acidity and a long lingering finish. $130IMG_9433

Louis Roederer “Cristal” Brut 2007 made from  55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay with grapes from Roederer’s own vineyards, almost all of which are Grand Cru. Ed said it needs 15 years from the vintage date before it is really ready to drink, $200IMG_9434

Perrier Jouet “Belle Epoque” Blanc de Blancs Brut 2002 This was by far the most expensive Champagne at the tasting. The grapes come from the best vineyards and Ed believes that it is worth the money and one of the best Blanc de Blancs made. He also said that 2002 was an excellent vintage for Champagne. $350

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Cathleen Burke Visscher with Pascal Doquet and Lamiable

Pascal Doquet “Le Mesnil Sur Oger” Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2002 The vines range from 3 to 77 years-old averaging around 37 years as of 2014. The soil is chalky in the Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in the heart of the territory. It is a 1,67 ha parcel with an eastern exposure. The training system is Taille Chablis. The yield is 30% lower than the maximum permitted by Champagne. Malolatic fermentation takes place. Aged for 6 months and then 5 months on the lees. 36% aged in barrels. It has hints of toasted brioche, raisins, spice and apple with good acidity. Ed said that this wine needs more time and I agree. Dosage 5g/l. The winery is certified organic, indigenous yeast is used and the grapes are hand harvested. $85

Fourth Flight — Duck á l’OrangeIMG_9436

Moet & Chandon “Dom Perignon” Brut 2006 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. Ed wrote in his book Champagne for Dummies – the wine’s “…trademarks are its exquisite balance, its creaminess, its elegance, its very fine tiny bubbles and its complex flavors.” He was also right on the mark when he said, “With age, Cuvee Dom Perignon develops aromas and flavors of toast, coffee and honey.” $150IMG_9437

Bollinger “ La Grande Anneë” Brut 2004 made from 63% Pinot Noir and 37% Chardonnay. This was one of my top wines. Both Ed and I felt that it would age very well. It is intense, concentrated, rich Champagne with aromas and flavors of toasted brioche. This is the Champagne that I drank the most. $125 IMG_9438

Henriot Cuvee “Des Enchanteleurs” Brut 2000 made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from six of the most prestigious Grand Cru vineyards.  Ed said it was excellent and one of his favorites. It was also one of mine. It is rich with citrus aromas and flavors and hints of wild peach, hazelnut, and a touch of honey. It is aromatic with a great finish and aftertaste. It was Tom Maresca’s favorite. $165.

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Odila Galer-Noel with Pol Roger, Assistant Vice President Fredrick Wildman

Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill” Brut 2004 made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30 % Chardonnay from their Grand Cru vineyards. The remuage (riddling) is done by hand, a rarity in Champagne today. Ed felt it still needs at least 4 or 5 more years to be ready. He described it as being rich, firm and austere but also with finesse and complexity. Ed said that it was created in homage to Sir Winston Churchill mindful of the qualities he sought in his Champagne: robustness, a full-bodied character and relative maturity. This was another of his favorite wines and I have to agree. $250

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Nicole Burke   US Brand Ambassador Krug

Krug Brut Grande Cuvée NV made from 45/55% Pinot Noir, 15/20 Pinot Meunier and 25/35 Chardonnay–the percent depends upon the vintage. They blend about 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages and it is aged for at least 6 years in the cellars. All of their Champagnes are aged in used small oak barrels. They are all prestige cuvees made from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages and are aged longer before release. The overall rating for the vineyards is 98% with Krug’s own vineyards rating 100%. As Ed said obviously this is not just another NV Champagne. It is Michele’s favorite. $135

Though we all have preferences in style, I would be more than happy to enjoy any of these excellent Champagne

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Filed under Andre Jacuqart Champagne, Champagne, Christal, Dom Perignon, Dom Ruinart 1966, Henriot, Krug Champagne, Lanson, Laurent- Perrier- Grand Siècle, Perrier-Jouet, Piper-Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Prestige Cuvee Champagnes, Tattinger Comtes de Champane, Veuve Clicquot

The Best of Non-Vintage Brut Champagnes

The Wine Media Guild’s annual tasting and lunch at Felidia Restaurant of non-vintage Brut Champagne was a greatly anticipated event, thanks to the efforts of Ed Mc Carthy. Ed, the author of Champagne for Dummies, organizes and hosts this event, and this year managed to line up 26 Champagnes so that the guests were able to tastethem side-by-side.

Ed Mc Carthy and Michelle D. DeFeo, President Laurent-Perrier

Ed Mc Carthy and Michelle D. DeFeo, President, Laurent-Perrier

Ed did not begin to speak until he had tasted all 26 of the wines at least once. Ed said they are the standard of the house style and must be consistent from year to year. He also said that the Blanc de Blancs are lighter in style and more Champagne Houses are now producing them. Non Vintage Brut Champagnes are a good value for the money and priced between $35 and $60 a bottle.

The Wines:

Ayala Brut Majeur $40 made from 43% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Meunier. Bollinger owns this company. They only use up to 20% of their reserve wine in the NV. Complex and elegant with hints of apple, pear, bread crust and a touch of spice.IMG_9306

Marion-Bosser Premier Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs $56 This is one of the few biodynamic houses in Champagne. The winery is on the right bank of the Great Valley of the Marne, against the peaks of the Montagne de Reims. The vineyards are all Premier Cru. The soil is chalk. The wine spends three years on the lees. The dosage is 5g/l. It is an elegant Champagne with hints of apple and good minerality. Ed liked it.

Piper – Heidsieck Brut $38 this is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. It is a well-structured wine, fruit forward with hints of pear, citrus and grapefruit.

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvèe $45 Made from 22% Pinot Meunier, 33% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir. The grapes are a selection from 32 villages vinified separately in stainless steel or in barrel. There is a systematic use of reserve wines from previous vintages from 25% to 48% when needed. The wine comes from the first pressing of the grapes. The wine is aged in bottle on the lees for 3 months. This is almost double the legally required minimum. In all of Bruno Paillard’s Champagne, the dosage is kept very low, 5 to 6 grams of sugar per liter, so as to produce an authentic and pure wine, a true Brut. This is the flagship of the house and must remain true to itself in the good and bad years. One very large tank is used for the assemblage so there will be consistency.  The wine has aromas of citrus fruit, especially lime and grapefruit, that is so typical of Chardonnay. There are also aromas of red fruits like cherry and raspberry, so typical of Pinot Noir. This in one of Ed’s favorites and also mine.IMG_9413

G.H. Munn Cordon Rouge Brut $38 made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The wine has hints of orange peel, almonds and a touch of smoke with a nice long finish.

Lanson Black Label Brut $44 made from 35% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier. It is aged for at least 3 years and the dosage is 8/10g/l. The wine has hints of citrus fruits and a gentle touch of toast.

Perrier-Jouēt Grand Brut $37 Made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay. It is crisp with hints of citrus fruit and a touch of toast.

 

 

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Christina L. Jacobs, Champagne Specialist, Moet Hennessy USA

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV $68. Chardonnay is the very soul of the winery with grapes coming mainly from the Cote des Blancs, and Montagne de Reims terroirs. This is a Champagne with nice citrus aromas and flavors with hints of apple and apricot.IMG_9296

Henriot Blanc de Blancs NV $55. 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.

A.R. Lenoble Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru NV $55. Ed said this was one of the few independent and family run houses in Champagne and arguably the best value in the tasting. The 18 hectares of vines are all situated on Grand Cru and Premier Cru lands. The cuvee contains 13% of reserve wine aged in oak barrels for 5 to 8 months. The wine spends 4 years on the lees. This is Champagne with hints of apple, pear, lemon and a touch of toast.

Champagne Brut Reserve Billecart-Salmon NV. Made from 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It has tiny bubbles and a fruity delicate freshness.IMG_9294

Champagne Premier Brut NV Louis Roederer is made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Meunier from 50 different crus. It is aged for 3 years in the cellar and 6 more months after dègorgement.

Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut Zero Dosage $60 Made from 55% Chardonnay and 45 % Pinot Noir. It is aged for at least 4 years on the lees.

There is less than 3g of residual sugar per liter and no addition of sugar syrup after bottle fermentation. It is crisp with hints of citrus and honeysuckle with nice minerality and acidity. Because it is bone dry, it is an excellent Champagne with food.

Tattinger Brut “La Francaise” $40. This is a blend of 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir from 30 different vineyards. It has hints of apple and lemon with a touch of peach and almonds.

Deutz Brut Classic Champagne $45 made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in equal proportions. It has hints of apples and brioche with a touch of pear and lemon.

Duval-Leroy Premier Cru Brut $50 Mostly Chardonnay from premier cru vineyards in the Cote des Blanc in Vertus where the winery is located. It is aged of at least 3 years and has hints of pear, pastry dough and almonds.

Bethany Burke with Andre Jacquart

Bethany Burke with Andre Jacquart

Andrè Jacquart Brut Experience Premier Cru $50 Ed said they only make Blanc de Blancs. The Chardonnay grapes are from Premier Cru Vertus (vinified in stainless steel) and from the Grand Cru village of Mesnil-sur- Oger (Vinified in older Burgundy oak barrels). No malolactic fermentation and the Champagne is aged for 5 years on the lees before disgorgement. It has hints of pear and toasted brioche with nice minerality

Leclerc Briant Les Chevres Pierreuses Premier Cru Brut $60. Made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier from the Les Chèves Pierruses vineyards in Cumieres. It has 4.5 g/l sugar. Ed said only 3,000 bottles were made and he really liked it. The Champagne has hints of lemon and lime with a touch of cherry, peach and almonds.

Cathleen Burke Visscher with Pascal Doquet and Lamiable

Cathleen Burke Visscher with Pascal Doquet and Lamiable

Pascal Doquet Les Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut Le Mesnil -Sur- Oger $54. The winery is in Vertus near Avize. The vines average around 36 years old, the soil is chalky in the Le Mesnil sur Oger. Harvest is by hand. They farm organically and the yields are 20% to 30% less than appellation standards. Indigenous yeast is used. A minimum of 3 vintages makes up the cuvee. The wine usually goes through malolactic fermentation. An average of 50% of the blend is vinified in small, old oak barrels to oxgenate the wine. It is aged on the lees in bottle for over 8 years. Production is only about 6,000 cases. The wine has hints of yeast, marzipan and apple with a touch of lemon.

J P Lamiable Brut Grand Cru Blanc De Noix $50 made from 100% .They farm 6 hectares where the Montage de Reims, Cōte de Blances and Vallèe all converge. Primary fermentation takes place in stainless and enamel tanks to preserve freshness. Maturation is in enamel tanks for 6 months. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and is aged on the lees for 5 years. It has hints of pear, peach and almond with good acidity and minerality. It is Champagne that can age and goes very well with food.IMG_9292

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve $60 Made from 75% Pinot Noir / Pinot Meunier and 25% Chardonnay. This is full-bodied Champagne with hints of brioche and almonds.

Moēt and Chandon Brut Imperial $40 made from 50% Pinot Noir 40% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay. It is medium dry with black fruit flavors and aromas with a touch of toast.IMG_9295

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut $45 made from 56% Pinot Noir, 16% Pinot Meunier and 28% Chardonnay. Ed said it is very easy drinking Champagne with dark fruit aromas but improves with a year or two of aging.

Paul Roger Brut White Label $42 Made from equal parts of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay from the first pressing. Each final blend contains a minimum of two vintages with the youngest components being a minimum of three years old. Average dosage is 12 g per liter. This is a complex creamy Champagne with aromas of fruit and toast.IMG_9291

 Gosset Grand Reserve Brut $60 made from 46% Meunier, 38% Pinot Noir and 16% Chardonnay from Grand Cru and Premier grapes. It is a well full-bodied Champagne, complex in aromas and flavors that will age very well. Ed said that this house founded in 1584 is the oldest continuing wine firm in Champagne. The Gosset family no longer owns it but Ed said it is a Champagne house that should be better known.

Bollinger Special Cuvèe Brut $60 made from 60% Pinot Noir 15% Pinot Meunier and 25% Chardonnay. Reserve wines of up to 15 years in age are added to the base wine and it is aged 3 to 4 years before release. This is a dry, full bodied champagne with rich, complex flavors that become more toasty with age.

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Filed under Ayala, Billecart- Salmon, Blanc de Blancs Champagne, Bollinger Champagne, Bruno Paillard, Champagne, Henriot, Lanson, Non- Vintage Brut Champagnes

Rose Champagne with Champagne Ed

Champagne Ed Mc Carthy was at it again talking about his favorite topic, Champagne. This time it was Rosè Champagne for the New York Wine Press at The Brasserie, NYC.IMG_6771

Ed said that Rosè Champagne has a long history. Clicquot was already making a Rosè Champagne in 1777.

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Ed Mc Carthy

Less than 6% of the Champagne made today is Rosè but 15% of the Champagne sold in the U.S. is Rosè. Most Champagne firms today produce at least one Rosè. Many produce two, a non-vintage or vintage and a prestige cuvee, usually vintage

 

Ed explained there are two ways to make Rosè Champagne.  For the traditional method, a small amount, about 10 to 15%, of still or regular Pinot Noir is added to the cuvée before the second fermentation.  The other method involves skin contact (maceration). The skins of black grapes are pressed slightly and left in contact with the juice to soak or steep until the desired color is achieved.  This method is more difficult because the same color must be achieved year after year. Even though the second method seems to be the “purer” one, Ed said in blind tastings no one is ever able to tell the difference in quality between the two methods. Ed added that Rose Champagne is more expensive than traditional Champagne because of the process.

Tasting Rose Champagne

Tasting Rose Champagne

Rosé is a little more full bodied than other Champagnes because of the addition of Pinot Noir and therefore it goes well with food.  Ed added that rose champagnes are usually the best Champagnes to have with dinner, even with meat. These are dry wines and should not be drunk with dessert.

The Executive Chef of The Brasserie, Bradley Stelling prepared different dishes to go with each of the four flights of wine. He was on the mark every time!

Hors d’ Oeuvres: Hamachi Crudo, Grapefruit Vinaigrette and Pomegrante, Black Truffle Arancini.IMG_6757

Marion-Bosser Rosé Brut 1st Cru NV made from 55% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Noir still wine. This is one of the few biodynamic houses in Champagne. The winery is on the right bank of the Great Valley of the Marne, against the peaks of the Montagne de Remis. The vineyards are all Premier Cru. The soil is chalk beleminter from the Mesozic era. The wine spends three years on the lees. Ed said this was a delicate and elegant Champagne $55IMG_6754

Ruinart Brut Rosé NV in Magnum made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards. About 18% of the Pinot Noir added is still wine. Ed said that the House was founded in 1729 and began shipping Rose Champagne in 1764. It is a light, delicate and elegant Champagne. $100 IMG_6756

Lanson Rosé Label Brut Rosé NV in Magnum Composed of 53 percent Pinor Noir, 32 percent Chardonnay and 15 percent Pinot Meunier from more than 50 different vineyards. The Brut Rosé’s rose-colored label highlights the contents of this non-vintage bottling. It has rose petal aromas and flavors of tart strawberry and red currant. The wine is full-bodied and well structured. Ed said they use the best Pinot Noir for their Rosé $110

 

Lunch

Seared Foie, Braised Pear and Blood Orange GastriqueIMG_6759

G.H. Mumm “Le Rosé” Brut NV  A selection 12% to 14% of red wines from the villages famed for their Pinot Noir such as Bouzy, Verzenay or Riceys on the Cote des Bar.  Once the balance is achieved by the addition of reserve wines, the final blend is determined by the addition of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with the addition of Pinot Meunier. Ed said he was very impressed by this wine. $50 IMG_6760

Henriot Brut Rosé NV The majority of the wine is Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and Chardonnay from the Cotes de Blancs and some Pinot Meunier. 15 crus are blended together and 25% is reserve wine. Vinified Pinot Noir as a red wine is added to the assemblage. Every time Ed speaks about Henriot he says the same thing — that it is a Champagne house that is underrated. Ed said it is light and elegant with good red fruit aromas and flavors but needed more time. $55IMG_6761

Laurent-Perrier “Cuvèe Rosé” Brut NV 100% Pinot Noir. It is a blend of ten different Grand Cru villages situated mainly in the south and north areas of the Montagne de Reims, including Cote Bouze, from the finest crus of Ambonnay, Bouzy, Louvis and Tours Sur-Maine. The grapes are sorted and destemmed before going in the vats. It is made by the skin contact method, which is rare in Champagne. Controlled maceration lasts from 48 to 72 hours depending on the vintage. It is aged in the cellars for at least 4 years before release. The first vintage was 1968. Ed liked this wine and said it went very well with the food. $ 65

Almond Butter Poached Lobster and Chanterelles

Pascal Doquet Rosé Brut 1st Cru NV made from 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir. The domain is located in Vertus near Avis and the 8.66 hectares include parcels in some of the best Grand and Premire Crus in the Côte de Blancs. The yields are 30% lower than the maximum allowed by Champagne. Harvest is by hand. Only indigenous yeast is used. Organic farming is practiced. This is one of my favorites and Ed said he liked the style because it is based on Chardonnay. $55IMG_6758

Charles Heidsieck “Rosé Reserve” Brut NV made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  They purchase grapes from about 120 of the 323 crus, which make up the Champagne appellation each year to blend their Champagne. The wine is aged for a minimum of three years. They have only been making Rosé for a few years. Ed called this a great champagne and thinks they should get more recognition.  $65IMG_6762

Gosset “Grand Rosé” Brut NV Made from 58% Chardonnay 35% Pinot Noir and 7% red wine from Ambonnay and Bouzy. The grapes come from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards.  It is a blend of 3 different harvests, including 10% reserve wine. The wine spends an average of four years resting on the lees before release. It has delicate and elegant with hints of raspberry and strawberry. $75

Ed said that they are making excellent Rosè Champagne for the last 30 years and deserve to be better known.

Beef Wellington, Roasted Root Vegetables, Cream of MorelsIMG_6763

Pol Roger “ Extra Cuvèe De Reserve” Brut 2006 is based on their Brut Vintage, 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Before bottling and second fermentation about 15% still red wine (Pinot Noir) from the best crus of the Montagne de Remis is added. Dosage 9g/L. The wine is aged 7 years in the cellar before release. The wine has citrus aromas and flavors with hints of blood oranges and red fruit berries. $110IMG_6764

Louis Roederer Rosé Brut 2008 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. 20% of the wine is matured in oak barrels with weekly batonnage. There is no malolactic fermentation. The sangée method is used following skin contact, which lasts 5 to 8 days in the liquid phase. The wine ages for an average of 4 years in the cellar and another 6 months resting after disgorging to complete its maturity. Dosage varies between 8 to 10 g/l depending on the vintage. There are citrus aromas and hints of strawberry and peach in the wine. There was also a toasty spice aroma, which reminded me of gingerbread, and Ed said it was that it was typical of the Roederer Rose. Ed said this might be the best buy of the tasting.  $75

Perrier-Jouet “ Belle Epoque” Rosé Brut 2008. After vinification the wine is preserved separately, cru by cru, until blending. Chardonnay from the Grand Crus Cramant and Avize dominate the blend. The Pinot Noir comes from the Grand Crus Marlly and Verze. Still red wine makes up 9% of the blend. The wine is aged for 6 years before release.  This is the most expensive wine and in Ed’s opinion may be worth the money. It is an elegant full-bodied wine with great fruit and hints of strawberries and raspberries and a lot more going on. $275IMG_6768

Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Rosé Brut 2005  The Comtes Rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir from Grand Cru grapes and produced only in exceptional years. The Chardonnay grapes come from the most renowned vineyards of the prestigious Côte des Blancs, and the Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims. Only juice from the first pressing is used in order to ensure the structure and long aging potential that is so essential to this exceptional Champagne. 12% of the Pinot Noir is blended in as still red wine. This is elegant and complex Champagne with hints of strawberry, cherry, currants and a touch of roasted almonds. $200

Note – Picture of Ed Mc Carthy and the Taster courtsey of Cynthia sin- yi cheng

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Filed under Champagne, Charles Heidsieck Rose Reserve Brut, G.H. Mumm Le Rose Brut, Gosset, Grosset Grand Rose Brut, Henriot, Henriot Brut Rose, Lanson Brut Rose, Laurent- Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut, Louis Roederer Rose Brut 2008, Marion-Bosser Rose Brut, Pascal Doquet Rose Brut, Perrier- Jouet Belle Epoque Rose Brut, Pol Roger Rose Brut, Rose Champagne, Ruinart Brut Rose, Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Rose Brut