Valentine’s Surf and Turf with a Twist and Champagne Pairing #winePW

Wine Pairing Weekend Celebrates the Valentine’s Day

The theme for this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend (#WinePW) is Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it’s because I’m a romantic. Or perhaps because I’m a Leo, I like to “go big” for Valentine’s Day. And for my wife and I that special occasion meal often calls for  “Surf and Turf”

On my plate

Normally, when I’m doing a food and wine pairing post, I do my cooking the weekend before.  No such luck last weekend.  We were rippin’ and runnin’ all weekend.

I still wanted to do Surf and Turf worth of a special occasion meal, but I needed something that I could pull together on a weeknight. After doing some research on the world-wide web, I found a recipe for Whole Wheat Penne with Lobster and Bacon by Giada De Laurentiis.

The list of ingredients included lobster, bacon and heavy cream.  I’d say that qualifies for a special occasion meal! Plus, it had a 5-star review from 50+ reviews and total time to prepare was under an hour! 

Done and done!

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The recipe is relatively easy to prepare.  The only changes I made to the recipe were to use 3/4 lb of bacon and pasta (I did substitute gluten-free pasta because that’s what was in the pantry) rather than a pound.

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My wife and I both absolutely loved this dish!  It’s a 5-star recipe in my book.  It’s a nice twist on traditional surf and turf that delivers plenty of succulent seafood, immersed in a light, but creamy, smoky, bacon-y sauce.

Dim the lights.  Light the candles, play your favorite romantic music, and serve with a salad and your favorite Valentine’s dessert and you’ll be in for a gastro-romantic treat! 

We had seconds, and had to talk ourselves out of thirds.  And the dish was history the next day!

Oh yeah..it’s a meal worthy of a special occasion!

In my glass

No wine engenders romance like champagne.  There are many famous quotes about love and romance. And quotes about champagne.  Surprisingly there are not a lot of quotes about them together.   My favorite is this…The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love is like being enlivened with Champagne.” – Samuel Johnson.

Then there are the lyrics from this song sung by Billie Holiday – which are new to me…

You go to my head;And you linger like a haunting refrain
And I find you spinning ’round in my brain
Like the bubbles in a glass of champagne 

Yes, champagne, just like that special someone,  offers a je ne sais quoi.” that may defy mere words. It must be experienced. Is it any wonder champagne is in my glass on this most romantic of holidays? I chose the 2009 Pierre Brigandat Champagne Brut.

From the winery: …this is 100% Pinot Noir. It is a very powerful and complex wine. Tasting notes include pear, strawberry, more oyster shell-type minerality, brioche, intense aromatics, medium-weight, fine bead. On CellarTracker this wine is rated 92 points.

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My tasting notes follow:

Very pale almost clear gold with a green tinge color and a tiny persistent bead, and pie crust, green apple, guava, and citrus zest aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied, nuanced and well-balanced with zesty acidity and green apple, lemon-lime zest, guava, and a bit of pear flavors with an appealing vein of minerality! Highly recommended!

The Food and Wine Pairing

This was a good pairing. The champagne and the Surf & Turf found (mostly) peaceful coexistence. The lively acidity of the Champagne cut the richness of the dish a bit and cleansed the palate for the next bite.  It also played very well with the seafood. The bacon overwhelmed the champagne a bit though.  In retrospect, I think a rosé champagne would have been a better choice. Note: I had a bottle of Pinot Noir open, so I tried it the the dish, but to my palate it overwhelmed the seafood.

This was a good example of the challenge with pairing wine with Surf & Turf.  The Surf and the Turf seem to demand two completely different wines. One may not be able to find an acceptable compromise with one wine (thought I’d place my bet on either rosé champagne, or still rosé).

Have you found a successful Surf & Turf (traditional or otherwise?) and wine pairing?

For more Valentine’s Day inspiration, make sure to check out the rest of the wonderful food and wine pairings for served up during this week-long #WinePW celebration!

Jade from Tasting Pour:

Jeff from Food Wine Click Perfect Wine for a Sparkling Valentine’s Day Celebration

Nancy from Pull That Cork Shepherd’s Pie and Burgundy: A Cozy Valentine’s Day Pairing

Kirsten of The Armchair SommelierMy Squashy Valentine

Jennifer from Vino Travels Sparkle Your Valentine’s Day with Brachetto from the Roero with Demarie

David of Cooking Chat

Michelle from Rockin Red BlogValentine’s Day in the South of France with #WinePW

Sarah from Curious CuisiniereGougeres (French Cheese Puffs) and Blanquette de Limoux

Cindy from Grape Experiences:

Lori from Draceana WinesNeed a Valentine’s Wine? As You Wish.

Diana from Wine Pass shares – Valentine Risotto and Rich Chocolate Beet Cake with Brachetto d’Acqui

Valerie of Girls Gotta Drink A Moscato Food Pairing: Moscato for Breakfast Anyone?

Wendy from A Day in the Life on A FarmAsian Tuna and Noodles with Rodney Strong Pinot Noir

Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla :

Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva:

And if you’re up early join us Saturday, February 13th at 11 am EST/8 PST for a live Twitter chatter using #WinePW to share your favorite Valentine’s Day Pairings.  And get ready for the March #winePW, where we will share our Open That Bottle Night experiences. Check out the upcoming and past Wine Pairing Weekend events on this page.

Billie Holiday – You Go To My Head – “You Go to My Head” is a 1938 popular song composed by J. Fred Coots with lyrics by Haven Gillespie.

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

How To Host A Champagne Pairing Dinner Illustrated

It’s a day I’ll always remember.  A day that forever changed my evolution as a wine lover. On June 30, 2014, I received an email whose subject line read: Invitation to Attend 2014 Champagne Harvest Media Trip.  I simply couldn’t believe it.  But it turned out to be true.  And I was blessed with the opportunity to spend a week in Champagne.  The invitation read:

The trip to Champagne will be an opportunity for you to learn more about the production of Champagne and its unique qualities… The week-long trip is exclusively reserved for a small group of leading food and wine journalists from across the U.S., and will be scheduled for the first week of September…This trip will give you the opportunity to visit select Champagne producers – from large houses to cooperatives and small growers – and learn about the appellation as a whole. As a guest you will also experience firsthand the winemaking process, from picking and crushing grapes to exquisite Champagne pairing dinners.

There are simply too many awesome experiences I had during my week in Champagne to recount here.  Suffice it to say it’s a trip I’ll always remember (see below for my 5-part Champagne Chronicles recap).  But near the top of the list experiences for me would be the Champagne pairing dinners.

Before I went to Champagne, I’d never given a champagne paring dinner much thought. It’s certainly not because I didn’t know that champagne is arguably the most food friendly wine there is.  I know it is.  It’s singular combination of effervescence, ample acidity and lower alcohol make for beautiful pairing from aperitif through to dessert.

Sipping champagne for lunch and dinner for a week changed me forever. Enjoying an awesome multi-course champagne pairing dinner is no longer a hypothetical for me. I experienced the magic first hand!

Upon my return, I promised  myself I would share the experience of champagne pairing dinners with my wife and our close wine loving friends.

I’ve been thinking about. And talking about it.  But I hadn’t done it.

So when saw this month’s French Winophiles theme is Champagne.  Well, I figured now is the time to recreate the magical experience of a Champagne Pairing dinner and offer some tips how you can host one too!  

In My Glass

My first decision was to select the Champagne. I decided I wanted to try one each of the primary types of Champagne – Blanc de Blanc (appetizer/salad), Blanc de Noirs (main) and Rosé (cheese course and dessert) Since it was a Champagne Pairing Dinner for two, I also decided to get two half bottles of Champagne to a) keep the cost down, and b) drink (somewhat) responsibly.

I reached out to K&L Wine Merchants Champagne Buyer – Gary Westby (talk about a dream job!).  I knew Gary, who has been to more than his fair share of Champagne Pairing dinners, would be a great resource for both the wines and as a sounding board for my pairing ideas.  I shared my general Champagne and food pairing ideas, and asked for his Champagne recommendations.  He spoke. I listened and purchased.

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The Champagne Pairing Menu:

After deciding on the wines, I settled on this five course menu (Champagne pairing in red):

Appetizer

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We love seafood! And Blanc de Blanc and seafood are a match made in heaven. I originally had seafood påté in mind, but we couldn’t pass up the King Crab Legs at Costco!

King Crab Legs with Clarified Butter

Salad

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A salad of thinly shaved asparagus spears with avocado, and minced mint with a simple lime vinaigrette. Not in the photo, but it Feta cheese make a great topping!

Asparagus and Avocado Salad

Launois Pere et Fils Champagne Grand Cru Cuvée Reserve Blanc de Blancs Brut

Main

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Stuffed Salmon with Beet Risotto

Fleury Pere & Fils Champagne Blanc de Noirs Brut

Cheese Course

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Sneaking in a photo of cheese course from my trip to Champagne. We had leftover Appenzeller, Comte and Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam Triple Cream from a previous Champagne campaign

Dessert

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Red Velvet Cake (red velvet sponge cake, cream cheese frosting, dark chocolate crunch) and Lemon Raspberry Tart (shortbread tart shell, lemon curd and raspberry glaze) and

Lemon Raspberry Tart and Red Velvet Cake

Franck Bonville Champagne Brut Rosé Grand Cru

How It Turned Out

Note:click on the links for my detailed tasting notes

The Launois Pere et Fils Champagne Grand Cru Cuvée Reserve Blanc de Blancs Brut was an awesome pairing with both the King Crab Leg appetizer, and the salad.  The wine is all Chardonnay and all Grand Cru from the villages of Mesnil, Oger, Cramant and Avize–a roll call of the finest crus for Chardonnay. While fantastic with light first courses such as seafood, salads and soups, it shows enough depth and complexity to pair well with richer foods too.

Likewise, the Fleury Pere & Fils Champagne Blanc de Noirs Brut, a rich full-bodied expression of Champagne was wonderful pairing with the main dish.  The pairing worked well on a few levels.  First, just as a still Pinot Noir would have been a fabulous pairing for my Stuffed Salmon and Beet Risotto main dish, a Blanc de Noirs of 100% Pinot worked even better in my book because of its palate cleansing higher acidity. Furthermore, its “weight” and texture we a great match for  filling character of the main dish.   And last, but not least the wine seemed to bring out accentuate the spiciness of the seafood stuffing in a very pleasing way. The champagne and food each made other taste better. I agree with Jancis Robinson assessment the Fleury is “a champagne for food.

I must admit I stepped out on faith when I decided to pair the Franck Bonville Champagne Brut Rosé Grand Cru with the my selected desserts (I knew it would be great with the cheese course – and it was). That’s because I was concerned the desserts would be too sweet for this dry rosé . But when I was in Champagne, enjoyed rosé champagne with a wide variety of desserts several times.  But it turned out to be a delightful pairing with the desserts, especially the Lemon Raspberry Tart.  When I took a bite of desserts and then took a sip of wine, after a split second of sweetness of the dessert being a tad bitter, the wine stepped up to the challenge with its ample black cherry  fruit, and creamy texture. Again the wine made the desserts taste better and vice-versa.

In terms of the wines ; the Launois and the Bonville were especially compelling because they were awesome with or without food. On the other hand, the Fleury really distinguished itself with food.  I highly recommend all three!

How to make your own champagne pairing magic

A key to creating champagne pairing magic is to match wine and foods of equal “weight” Serve light first or second courses with a light-bodied Blanc de Blanc or brut. Such wines will not only be wonderful as an aperitif, they will also be well suited to light first courses including raw fish – sushi, sashimi, oysters, ceviche and some caviar, seafood, and salads.

From there move on to a medium-or full-bodied champagne for the main course.  Good choices here are Brut, Blanc de Noir or many Rosé champagne.  Consider pairing a champagne with anything you might pair with a Pinot Noir or Burgundy such as roast chicken, salmon, tuna, or pork dishes.

Consider a cheese course. When I visited Champagne last year, it was my first time having a cheese course after the main meal and before dessert.  I enjoyed that very much. The French way of serving cheese to nibble on whilst having a conversation your guests between the main dish and dessert makes a nice “break” and may aid your digestion. There are a few ways to go about it, none of them wrong. Consider “bringing home the barnyard”—that is, serving a cow’s milk cheese, a sheep’s milk cheese, and a goat’s milk cheese. You can’t go wrong with a tripe cream cheese such as St. Andre or Mt Tam. And cheese with a nutty character such as Comte, Parmesan or Gruyere are also great with champagne.

Champagne also loves dishes with a crunch texture such as fried chicken, tempura, of stuffed phyllo pastry.  

Finally consider the sweetness level of the champagne.  The dry “brut” style is the most flexible at the table. But you might consider an extra-dry (paradoxically sweeter than brut), or a demi-sec for dessert. Rosé is also a great option for dessert that aren’t overly sweet.

And last but not least keep in mind that champagne is fantastic at the table.  They’re so versatile at the table that I find them easier to pair with food than still wines.  

The little things:

  • I prefer a tulip shaped Champagne glass for sparkling wines to flutes.  If you have neither a regular wine glass is fine.
  • Ask friends to bring a bottle. This a great way to keep the cost down and bring some diverse selections to your champagne pairing dinner.  Give each give a type of wine like Blanc de Blanc, Rosé, Vintage and/or style like Brut, Brut Nature, Extra Brut, etc.
  • Keep a few ice buckets on hand to keep the champagne cool (not cold). Fill a bucket about halfway with ice, add a little water, and make sure you keep a towel handy for drips.
  • Remember have a few champagne stoppers on hand.  They’ll help maintain the champagne’s effervescence.

A champagne pairing dinner is one of life’s great pleasures.  They’re fun, festive, and fanciful. Give it a try!

Check out what my fellow #Winophiles are sharing about their exploration of the Champagne region of France:

Join our live Twitter chat on Saturday, December 19, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. , Pacific Time and use the hashtag #winophiles. This will be a great chance to ask your Champagne and food pairings questions and share what you already know!

Related Posts You Might Enjoy

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A Taste of Krug Champagne Redux

Last year, I was had the honor of being invited to a private Krug Champagne tasting at my favorite wine store – K&L Wine Merchants.  I recapped that phenomenal tasting in a post entitled “A Taste of Champagne Krug“.

Much to my surprise and delight, Gary Westby, K&L’s Champagne Buyer invited me to another Krug Champagne tasting several months back.  Except this time, the tasting was with Olivier Krug, the sixth generation of the venerable Krug Champagne family.

With #ChampagneDay upon us, I can’t think of a better time to recap this extraordinary tasting of the most memorable wines I’ve enjoyed this year!

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The House of Krug

Krug was established in 1843 by Johann Joseph Krug, and silent partner Hippolyte de Vivès, a member of the family of the founder of Veuve Clicquot  They produced the first Krug et Cie blend in 1845.  After Joseph’s death in 1861, his son Paul was the first of five successive generations of Krug’s in the business.

In 1999 Krug was acquired by the multinational luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy • Louis Vuitton S.A. LVMH also owns grande marque Champagne houses Mercier, Moët & Chandon, Montaudon, Ruinart and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin.

Despite LVMH’s majority ownership, the Krug family is still actively involved in all the key decisions of the house but does not manage the day-to-day operations.  Olivier Krug, who has  been in the business since 1989, became house director in 2009, the same year that LVMH named Margareth “Maggie” Henriquez President & CEO of Krug

Krug produces about 40,000 cases annually (It’s relatively small house), and 80% of that production is the Krug Grand Cuvée.  In addition to the Grand Cuvée, Krug also produces a multi-vintage Rosé,Vintage Brut, a vintage single vineyard blanc de blanc known as Clos du Mesnil, and a vintage single vineyard blanc de noir known as Clos d’Ambonnay, and older vintages release as Krug Collection series.  Krug is the only Champagne house that produces five prestige cuvées.

For an excellent, more detailed deep dive on Krug, check out Alder Yarrow’s (Vinography)  “Krug: A Quintessence of Champagne

The Tasting

We tasted the same wines as we did last year…with one huge exception…

We also tasted the newly released 2003 Krug Clos du Mesnil!

Yes, boys and girls…dreams do come true!

Olivier Krug  and team presented the wines. Krug has no direct operational role in the business.  But he touches everything that connects Krug to its audience – from grape growers to vendor, and of course consumers.  He is a charming, entertaining, and masterful story-teller.

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As I listened to the Krug story, there are many things that set Krug apart from other Champagne producers. Here are a few:

The first is that Krug doesn’t make any secondary, or entry-level wines.  In fact, all other Krug Champagne is measured against the multi-vintage Grand Cuvée, their least expensive wine.  Unlike most large producers of multi-vintage Champagne who strive for consistency of flavor year end, and year out, the Krug Grand Cuvée is not meant to taste the same each year.

It was Krug’s multi-vintage Grand Cuvée, that debunked the myth that vintage Champagne is inherently superior to multi-vintage Champagne.

…unlike other great Champagne producers, Krug makes only prestige cuvées. Instead of its multi-vintage Grande Cuvée being a secondary wine, created after the vintage wine is assembled, Krug has, from the beginning, turned the region’s usual practice on its head by devoting its attentions to the multi-vintage Cuvée first, as the house’s flagship. – Richard Jennings

Next, according to Olivier KrugI believe we are the only major house to vinify every single plot separately,”  In 2014  they harvested, and pressed 240 individual plots(in the nearest convenient location to the vineyard). The pressed juice was then brought back to the main facility, where they were barrel fermented in 240 separate lots!

Finally, Krug is also leading the way among the great Champagne houses in becoming more transparent. Since September 2011, each bottle of Krug has a six digit number on the back label referred to as the Krug ID.  You can type this number into a box on Krug’s website to learn the story of that particular bottling, including the vintage(s) in the wine, the percentage of grape varieties used, and when the bottle was disgorged.

The essence of Champagne is pleasure – Olivier Krug

As for the wines? Simply the best line-up of Champagne I’ve ever tasted!

My tasting notes follow:

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Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée – Light yellow color with an abundance of rapidly rising pin prick sized bubbles and an explosion of complex, hazelnut, yeast, orange zest, dried cherry, and subtle honey aromas. On the palate, it’s broad, and rich with a delicate mousse and lively acidity. It shows delicious pear, hazelnut, lemon, apricot and subtle honey flavors. Long rich satisfying finish. ID = 213032 Disgorged Spring 2013. 44% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, and 21% Pinot Meunier. Blend of 142 wines from 11 different years. Oldest wine from 1990, youngest wine from 2006. This is Champagne that made me a believer that Vintage Champagne isn’t always better than multi-vintage Champagne. (94-95 pts.); Retail – $150 Click to buy.

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Image courtesy of www.harpers.co.uk

2003 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut – Golden yellow color with an abundance of rapidly rising pin prick sized bubbles, and rich hazelnut, brioche, citrus peel, and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s complex, refined and well structured with a rich delicate mousse and ample apples, tart lemon, hazelnut, subtle spice and mineral flavors. Long finish. ID = 113015. Disgorged Winter 2012/13 Blend of 46% PN, 29% Chardonnay, and 25% Pinot Meunier.  Known as “Vivacious Radiance” at Krug (94-95 pts.); Retail – $229 Click to buy.

2000 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut – Pale yellow color with an abundance of rapidly rising pin prick sized bubbles, and penetrating almond, date, yeast, apple, citrus, ginger, vanilla and subtle spice aromas. On the palate, it intense and refined with a delicate creamy mousse, and apple, pear, mineral, lemon/lime, and subtle spice flavors. Long finish. ID = 412048; Disgorged Autumn 2012. Blend of 42% Pinot Noir, 43% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Meunier. Known as “Stormy Indulgence” at Krug (95-96 pts.); Retail – $229 Click to buy.

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2003 Krug Champagne Clos du Mesnil – Bright yellow gold color with a very fine persistent bead. It’s aromatically complex with very appealing hazelnut, citrus-laced creme fraiche, ginger, and and an earthiness that suggests spiced roast coffee grounds. On the palate, it’s powerful, elegant, pure and impeccably balanced with a delicate, super creamy mousse. It shows quince, ginger, honey, candied citrus, and subtle spice flavors complemented by a sublime minerality with long lemony finish. Easily the best Blanc de Blanc I have ever tasted. 100 % barrel fermented Chardonnay from the 1.84 hectare walled Clos du Mesnil vineyard (96-97 pts.); Retail – $899 Click to buy.

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Krug Champagne Brut Rosé – Salmon color with an abundance of rapidly rising pin prick sized bubbles, and very appealing complex, sweet yeast raspberry,strawberry, citrus and subtle nutty aromas. On the palate it’s elegant and rich with a delicate, creamy mousse and ample red fruit flavors of raspberries, strawberry, and watermelon along with lemon/lime, mineral, hazelnut and a sublime savoriness. Long finish. A deathbed wine for me!  ID = 113016. Oldest wine – 2000, youngest wine – 2006. Blend of 59% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, and % Pinot Meunier. Disgorged Winter 2012/2013 (95-96 pts.); Retail – $279 Click to buy.


After the tasting, we were invited to partake of the bevy of bottles of Krug Champagne beckoning us…

I went back for more Clos du Mesnil and the Brut Rose!

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I can’t believe it! I’m almost ALWAYS the one with his eyes closed in photos. Sorry Olivier!

Then I went and purchased my first bottle of Krug (I have a feeling that wherever Olivier goes…Krug sells;-)

It was a bottle of the Grand Cuvée, which Olivier was kind enough to sign for me.

It’s official…I am now a Krug Lover!

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wines At Our Table; Week of July 26th, 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out; plus my Food and Wine pairing of the Week for the week ended July 26th,2015.

2013 Relic Wines Ritual – Retail $50

Violet color with appealing mixed black and blue fruit, dried herb, vanilla, chocolate, and spice aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied, and concentrated with an oh-so supple texture and good acidity. It shows baked blueberry, blackberry, vanilla, chocolate, and cardamom flavor and a lingering finish. Approachable now, but would benefit from further aging. Delicious blend of 41% Mourvedre, 19% Grenache, 19% Syrah, 19% Carignane, 2% Petite Sirah old-vine Carignane and Petite Sirah from Alfred Frediani Vineyard. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2013 Cantina di Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Canayli – Retail $18

Very pale yellow green color stone fruit, lemon thyme, wet stone and a hint of green pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s dry medium-bodied and fresh with mixed stone fruit, clove, and a hint of almond flavors with a lingering saline minerality. Very Good; 86-88 pts

Drappier Champagne Brut Carte d’Or – Retail $40

Pale gold color with abundant bubbles and a persistent tiny bead with pear red berry, citrus, pie crust and a subtle smoky mineral note. On the palate its light bodied and fresh with a soft creamy mousse. When cold, it shows pear, and yellow apple, but as it warms up red berries come to the fore accompanied by mixed citrus flavors and a subtle minerality. Better as it warmed up…Delicious!  Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

Wine of the Week

For a change, my selection for Wine of the Week was a no-brainer!

While I very much enjoyed the Rhone-inspired 2013 Relic Wines Ritual, and a delightful Vermentino from Sardinia, I’m a Champagne whore, and the Champagne Drappier Carte d’Or is my Wine of the Week.

Champagne Drappier is located in the tiny village of Urville (pop. 151). The history of the house dates back to 1808. But the history of the cellars and vineyards dates back to the 12th century when Saint Bernard had an annex built to Clairvaux Abbey in Urville in 1152! . Part of those cellars still exist and are in use today.

The Drappier vineyard covers 100 hectares and constitutes the House’s essential trump card. Since 1808 our family has used its skill to select parcels of land which are particularly well exposed and extremely rich in limestone. For the most part they are located around Urville, where Pinot Noir, the predominant grape variety, finds its loveliest expression and allows the production of very elegant, aromatic wines.

The Carte d’Or cuvée is the very expression of the Drappier style. With its very high proportion of Pinot Noir, one is almost tasting a Blanc de Noirs

This entry level cuvee is a blend of 75% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay and 10% Meunier with about 5% barrel aged reserve wines in the blend.  It went through malolactic fermentation, and with minimal use of sulphur.  7g/L dosage.  

Wines At Our Table; Week of July 26th, 2015Last year I had the privilege of traveling to the Champagne region in France as a guest ofthe U.S. Champagne Bureau for the 2014 Champagne Harvest Media Trip.  On our last day, we visited the Côte des Bar  in the Aube department of the Champagne region

It’s about a two-hour drive south of main Champagne towns of Reims, Epernay, and Aÿ. Our visit included a tour and tasting at Champagne Drappier, which was the highlight of the day for me. 

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My Food and Wine Pairing of the Week is the 2013 Cantina di Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Canayli with Sardinian Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella

The recipe called for Fregola a chewy, dot-shaped semolina pasta comes from the western part of Sardinia, near Oristano.  I substituted pearl couscous.  This version is     made with only seafood (no chorizo).

What was your Wine of the Week?  Any killer Food and Wine pairings?

Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine. Since I’m a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wines At Our Table; Week of July 19th, 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out; plus my Food and Wine pairing of the Week for the week ended July 19th, 2015.

2008 Louise Brison Champagne Brut – Retail $30 – Pale golden-yellow color persistent tiny stream of bubbles and appealing spicy quince, earthy, pear, baguette and a hint of honey aromas. On the palate it shows a vibrant acidity, and a soft creamy mousse with golden raspberry, pear, and a hint of tangerine flavors with a nice minerality. The lingering finish brings to mind tangerine Alka Seltzer. Produced from 50% barrel fermented Chardonnay and 50% stainless steel, skin-contact fermented Pinot Noir from organic estate vineyard in the Aube Very Good; 86-88 pts

2010 JC Cellars Pinot Noir Lancel Creek – Retail $38 – Ruby color with kirsch, pomegranate and spice and a bit of earth aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied, and a bit flabby with black cherry, and spice flavors with a hint of minerality. 14.5 alcohol Very Good; 86-88 pts

2012 La Bastide Blanche Bandol – Retail $25 – Dark red violet color with baked black fruit, graphite, licorice, spice and hints of roast meat aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh, and expressive with a supple texture blackberry, black cherry, spice flavors and an appealing minerality. Long finish. 14.5 alcohol. Organic fruit. Mostly mourvedre with a bit of grenache and cinsault  Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2012 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis – Retail $24 – Pretty golden-yellow color with sea breeze, stone-fruit, melon bergamot zest, honey and white flower aromas. On the palate, this is a wine about great texture and acidity working in harmony with peach, melon, spiced and orange zest flavors and a satisfying oily finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2014 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé – Retail $22 – Pretty salmon color with strawberry, white peach, white flower and a hint of honey aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh, persistent and well structured with strawberry, peach, sweet citrus and spice flavors with a very giving finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

Wine of the Week

This was the most challenging week to pick a wine of the week in a while.  Let’s start with the 2008 Louise Brison Champagne Brut. Vintage Champagne for $30!  I couldn’t believe it either! It was very good.  After waiting a week or so to taste it, I went back to order more from K&L Wine Merchant, but they were sold out and have been ever since.  Bummer. My three most highly rated wine this week were all from Provence.  I’m participating in a “virtual tour” of France with the French Winophiles (#Winophiles), and our theme this month was Provence.  I love the region’s food and wines.

After a less than stellar experience with a Rose from Provence last week, it was Brangelina to the rescue this week.  Forget the celebrity stuff.  Their Chateau Miraval Rose is seriously well crafted rosé that nearly disappeared the night we opened it. I’ve enjoyed it the last few years, and it seems to get better every year. The price decreased to $22 this year (thanks to the strength of the dollar I believe), so that makes it even better. Will buy more!

While the archetypal Provence wine is a Cotes de Provence rosé, it is the smaller, more peripheral appellations that really make the region interesting to wine enthusiasts.The two most famous individual names from the region are located right on the Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Toulon. Here, the deeply colored, richly flavored reds of Bandol are produced just 12 miles (19km) from the herby, full-bodied whites of Cassis (source).

Both the Bandol and the Cassis were outstanding, but the 2012 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis get the nod for my Wine of the Week

Wines At Our Table; July 19th 2015

The wine is an intriguing blend of Marsanne (51%), Clairette Blanc (31%) and Ugni Blanc (18%)  I highly recommend the wine. It’s very food friendly especially with seafood!

From the importer…Owner Jean-Louis Genovesi , a native of Cassis who had departed for Paris and made his fame (and a few centimes as well) in the capital.  Jean-Louis and his son, Sébastien, have revived the domaine and the wines, both blanc and rosé, are more compelling than ever.  The domaine sits just beneath the imposing limestone outcropping of Cap Canaille and is a mere 200 meters distance from the shores of the Mediterranean.  Thus situated, the Domaine du Bagnol is the beneficiary of the cooling winds from the north, northwest and northeast (Tramontane, Mistral and grégal) as well as the gentle sea breezes that come ashore.

My Food and Wine Pairing of the Week is the 2012 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis paired with Chicken Pan Bagnat

Pan Bagnat which literally means “bathed bread,” in the ancient dialect of Provence is a specialty of the region of Nice. It’s a popular lunchtime dish made of favorite Provençal ingredients: tomatoes, local bell peppers, black niçoise olives, anchovies and tuna, salt, and pepper—a salade niçoise, effectively, between slices of crusty bread. It’s the perfect picnic sandwich!

What was your Wine of the Week?  Any killer Food and Wine pairings?

Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine. Since I’m a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

Champagne and Oysters for Valentines’ Day #winePW

Wine Pairing Weekend is a monthly collaborative event for wine/food bloggers started by David Crowley of Cooking Chat.  It’s a great way to find food and wine pairings that work; along with tips on how to create your own food and wine pairing magic. The theme for this month’s Valentine’s Day Wine Pairing Weekend is “It’s All About Romance“…though, I prefer to think of Valentine’s Day as a celebration of Love and Romance.

And I can’t think  of a better analogue for Love and Romance than Champagne and Oysters!

The thing about champagne,you say, unfoiling the cork, unwinding the wire restraint, is that is the ultimate associative object. Every time you open a bottle of champagne, it’s a celebration, so there’s no better way of starting a celebration than opening a bottle of champagne. Every time you sip it, you’re sipping from all those other celebrations. The joy accumulates over time.
― David LevithanThe Lover’s Dictionary

Champagne, of course, is a great way to celebrate anything, anytime. And while I also enjoy other sparkling wines they’re not Champagne, which is the ultimate beverage for celebrating your love!

Champagne represents the bubbly and overflowing love that I have for you!” – Unknown

I enjoy Valentine’s Day.  I look forward to it. Though admittedly, I enjoy it more now that I’m married than when I was single.

I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not” – Coco Chanel

So whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or Singles Awareness Day, make it a celebration with Champagne!

On My Plate

As for the “romance”? It’s oysters for my wife and I !  We both love oysters!

Oysters and Champagne are staples on aphrodisiac inspired menus. That’s because oysters have enjoyed a reputation for being an aphrodisiac that dates back to at least ancient Greeks.

Giacomo Casanova, the 18th-century Venetian, reportedly ate dozens of oysters at a time to stir arousal before his legendary trysts. And some ancient cultures thought oysters resembled female genitalia, leading them to believe they imparted sexual prowess.

Consider the image of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, rising out of the sea from the half-shell.

Certainly, scientific proof directly linking consumption of oysters to sexual arousal remains suspect.

Perhaps the answer is psychological and is explained by the placebo effect (i.e. if one believes something is an aphrodisiac, they can get aroused thinking about it)

Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day…does it really matter? I say the ends justifies the means;-)

Oysters with Gigi's Mignonette
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
My wife's Champagne Mignonette
Ingredients
  • One dozen shucked oysters on the half shell
  • ¼ c Rice wine vinegar
  • 2 TBSP Champagne (or sparkling wine)
  • 1½ teaspoons finely chopped shallot
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped cilantro
  • Few splashes of Tabasco sauce
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, Champagne, shallot, pepper, Tabasco sauce and sugar and let stand 30 minutes. Arrange the oysters on a bed of ice and serve with the mignonette.
Notes
The longer you keep the Mignonette Sauce – up to about a month – the more the flavors develop and the better it tastes

We picked up a dozen Fanny Bay Oysters at our local fish market for our Valentine’s Day starter. They have a sweet and salty character with a slight metallic taste,  and a pronounced cucumber finish.

While I generally prefer a squeeze of lemon and sometime a drop or two of Tabasco on my raw oyster, this easy to make Champagne mignonette that my wife created helps to balance out the salty brininess of the oysters while giving them a kiss of classy!

DSCN0821

 In My Glass

The Franck Bonville Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Grand Cru is a grower Champagne that’s located in Avize. They farm about 50 acres of vines in the Grand Cru districts of Cramant, Avize, and Oger. It’s a Blanc de Blanc style made with 100% Chardonnay.  It has  very low dosage of only 2.5 g/L, and  is aged about 5 years on its lees.  My tasting notes follow:

Pale yellow-green color with abundant tiny bubbles and pretty white flower, green apple, brioche, citrus, chalk, and a hint of sweet spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and very dry with a delicate mousse, and a soft, fresh lemony with a bit of lime acidity that’s intermingled with a bit a salinity and with golden apple, pear, and lemon rind flavors. Long finish. At retail of $40, it offers very good QPR for a Champagne with 5 years of aging on the lees! 

The Pairing

Champagne is the can’t-go-wrong choice with oysters. The bubbly effervescence scours the palate and prevents any fishy molecules from taking up permanent residence there, and their  prickly acidity makes you look forward to more food in general.  But not all Champagne (or other sparkling wines) are created equal .  I prefer a drier wine with oysters (think Muscadet, Chablis, or Pouilly Fuisse). The Champagne equivalent is a Brut Nature or Extra Brut which has very little added sugar and is very dry.  A drier wine shows purer flavors for me. Furthermore I prefer a Blanc de Blanc Champagne (100% Chardonnay)  because it tends to be light, and a tart with appley, citrusy character.  This was a fantastic pairing!

Be sure to check out what my fellow Wine Pairing Weekend # 9 bloggers have come up with for our “It’s All About Romance” theme! 

Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme “It’s All About Romance” on Saturday, February 14, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m Pacific Time.

You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the March Wine Pairing Weekend, which will be on Saturday, March 14, 2015

_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wines At Our Table – Week of February 8, 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  Here are my Wine of the Week; and Food and Wine Pairing of the Week for February 8, 2015.

2012 Jacuzzi Family Vineyards Barbera – Retail $28
Opened with restrained baked raspberry, spice, cherry and earthy aromas and flavors. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied with mouth-watering acidity. It got better with some time in the glass. This is one my wife’s faves, but I don’t think it delivers on the value front. Very food friendly. It was a surprisingly good pairing with Beef Bulgogi.  Very good; 86-88 pts

2011 Onesta Cinsault Bechthold Vineyard – Retail $29
Consistent with prior tasting note. Dark red color with an appealing mixture of musk, black cherry, strawberry aromas with a hint of caramel. On the palate it light-bodied moderate to very good acidity and fresh raspberry, strawberry, spice and a bit of mineral flavors. Medium finish. Paired well with Asian Style BBQ Chicken! Sample received for review. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Martinelli Road Vineyard – Retail $38
This is a beautiful wine!  It’s aromatically complex with raspberry, cherry, tons of spice, and whiffs of candied citrus rind, and dust. Raspberry, cherry, and intense baking spice flavors aromas that explode on the palate are nicely balanced by very good acidity, and dusty soft tannins. Elegant character with a supple texture. Long finish. Last tasted 2 years ago. Just got better with time.  Outstanding; 92-95 pts

N.V. Franck Bonville Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Grand Cru – Retail $40
Pale yellow-green color with abundant tiny bubbles and pretty white flower, green apple, brioche, citrus, chalk, and a hint of sweet spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and very dry with a delicate mousse, and a soft, fresh lemony with a bit of lime acidity that’s intermingled with a bit a salinity and with golden apple, pear and lemon rind flavors.  Long finish.  Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

Wine of the Week IMG_1600

It’s rare that my wife and I have wildly different opinions about wine, but that was the case with the Jacuzzi Barbera.  She loved the wine and I think it’s “Good” but overpriced. Having said that Barbera is a great food wine and it paired very well with left over Beef Bulgogi.  The Onesta Cinsault is produced from the 129 year-old Bechtold Vineyard. I first “accessed” the wine in September last year using my Coravin.  It  tasted just as fresh as that first sample I accessed. I’m a fan of Carlisle Winery & Vineyards.  They make some “big” wines, but they always seem enough acidity to keep the fruit on the rails. Such was the case with the Martinelli Road Zinfandel, the only wine I rated outstanding this week. My Wine of the Week though was the Franck Bonville Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Grand Cru. It’s a grower Champagne located in Avize. They farm about 50 acres of vines in the Grand Cru districts of Cramant, Avize, and Oger. It’s a Blanc de Blanc style made with 100% Chardonnay.  It was dosed at only 2.5 g/L, and aged about 5 years on its lees. Such a harmonious, and pure wine. It was a fantastic paired with our Sunday afternoon lunch – Oysters on the Half Shell. The two are my Food and Wine Pairing of the Week.  

In fact, the Champagne was too good! We polished off the bottle for lunch!  If that’s not a Wine of the Week, I don’t know what is!

What was your Wine of the Week?  Any killer Food and Wine pairings?

Follow my reviews on Vivino 

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated
_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Smoked Salmon and Potato Chip Appetizer with Louis Roederer Champagne for #winePW

Wine Pairing Weekend is a monthly collaborative event for wine/food bloggers started by David Crowley of Cooking Chat.  It’s a great way to find food and wine pairings that work; along with tips on how to create your own food and wine pairing magic. The theme for this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend is “Sparkling Wines and Appetizers

The Appetizer

I love the holiday’s, but I don’t enjoy the stress and frenzied pace that so often accompany the holidays.  The last couple of weeks, especially, have been that way for me. Things have been hectic at work since Thanksgiving. So much so that as much as I enjoy participating in #winePW, I was ready to bow out this week because I simply didn’t have time to put together the appetizer I chose last weekend (I had to work!).

Then our host, Jeff of FoodWineClick suggested something simple – Potato Chips and Champagne!

Simple!  And perhaps more importantly, fast (I’m talking less than 10 minutes)!

Who couldn’t use a quick but oh so tasty appetizer recipe this time of year?

Inspired by this recipe, I whipped up:

Smoked Salmon and Potato Chip Appetizer

Smoked Salmon and Potato Chip Appetizer with Louis Roederer Champagne for #winePW

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bag of quality potato chips of your choice
  • 1 package of smoked salmon cut into small pieces(to place on chips)
  • crème fraîche
  • Dill weed (for garnish)

DIRECTIONS:

Sort chips in a single file on a platter or plate.  Top with a small piece of salmon.  Place a tiny dollop (about a 1/2 teaspoon) of crème fraîche on top of salmon.  Finish with a pinch of dried dill on top.  Serve immediately.

Notes: Any kind of smoked fish will work on this really.  Also you may substitute fresh herb such as chives, or dill.  I tried both Trader Joe’s Sea Salt Kettle Potato Chips and Classic Lays Potato Chips.  I slightly preferred the Classic Lays. They had a lighter texture and a tad more salt.

The Wine

I drink more bubbly than most folks.  I enjoy sparkling wine at least 3 or 4 times a month. That’s because I’ve learned that sparkling wines have are one of the most food friendly wines and because I don’t limit my consumption of sparkling wines to holiday celebrations.

While it’s true that sparkling wines are the wine of choice for most celebrations, for me Champagne is the ultimate sparkling wine for a celebration.

With that in mind and a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Premier I’ve had in my refrigerator for a couple of month, my wife and I celebrated the monthly anniversary of our first date (we celebrate one way or another the 10th every month)!

This wine delivers a lot of value for an entry-level Champagne.

It’s a multi-vintage blend of  40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier sourced from only grand and premier cru sites.  And It includes a significant amount of reserve wines that are over 10 years old that add depth and nuance to this affordable bottle of bubbles ($40).  The wines are matured in oak casks.  It is aged three years on the lees and another six months after disgorgement.

While this wine is the perfect aperitif, it has enough body to continue drinking into the main course as well.

Smoked Salmon and Potato Chip Appetizer with Louis Roederer Champagne for #winePW

I prefer my Champagne in a Burgundy glass!

My tasting notes on the wine follow:

Pale yellow color with plentiful active tiny bubbles and yeasty, almond, apple, subtle grapefruit and a hint of smoke aromas. On the palate, it’s refined, lively and fresh with a delicate creamy mousse. Mixed tart apples, pear and lemon curd flavors dominate but hints of grapefruit, black currant and an appealing smoky minerality play in the background. Long finish.

The Pairing

The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food.  That’s because it’s high-acidity and effervescence give it a wonderful palate-cleansing ability(think scrubbing bubbles!) that get your palate ready for the next bite of whatever deliciousness is before you.

Sparkling wines work especially well as a counter-balance to salty foods, rich and creamy foods, fried  and crunchy foods and raw fish.

Well what do you know?  My appetizer is all of the above!

The pairing of Champagne with this appetizer is a great example of a food and wine pairing guideline that I follow most of the time –  let either the wine or the dish take center stage.  If you want to show off a special bottle of wine, then the dish should play a supporting role.  If you want to showcase a spectacular dish, then choose a lower-key wine.

Much like two people in a conversation, in the wine and food partnership one mus listen while the other speaks or the results is a muddle – Evan Goldstein;Perfect Pairings

When you bite into the appetizer, it’s a party in your mouth.  Y ou get a nice combination of crunchy from the potato chips, a bit of salt, and the smokiness of the salmon, and the cool creaminess of the creme fraiche.

Ah, but when you eat one of these one-bite wonders followed by a sip of the Champagne, the wine makes the salmon taste a bit sweeter, and the smoky minerality of the Champagne also complements the smokiness of the salmon.  While at the same time, the appetizer elevates the taste of the wine, and make the wine taste less tart!

And that’s a winning combination!

Ready to try something new this year? Check out these great ideas from my fellow #winePW bloggers for Sparkling Wine and Appetizers:

Remember our Twitter chat today, December 13th at 8 a.m. Pacific Time. We’ll be talking about our tips and tricks for the best holiday wine pairings. We’d love to have you join us!

And, be sure to mark your calendars for January’s Wine Pairing Weekend, hosted by Christy at Confessions of a Culinary Diva. We’ll be sharing “New Wine Resolutions – Wine or Region you want to explore in 2015. Join in the #WinePW 8 conversation on Saturday January 10!

You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later!

__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; Daniel Ginsburg #Champagne Grande Reserve Sous Bois Brut

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the Daniel Ginsburg Grande Reserve Sous Bois Brut.

The Winery

Daniel Ginsburg (1956-2009) was the majority owner of Champagne de Meric.  For a time, it was the only American-owned winery in Champagne (Sports and music mogul Jay Z recently purchased Champagne Armand de Brignac)

Ginsburg was a man of diverse interests. He was a graduate of Northwestern University and made his professional mark in advertising and marketing.  He was an avid wine collector, founding member of the Society for American Baseball Research (which he joined when he was 15!), author (The Fix Is In: A History of Baseball, Gambling and Game Fixing Scandals, and The Art and Business of Champagne), and part-owner of the Class AA Norwich Navigators.

Champagne De Méric was founded in 1843 by the Besserat family in the village of Aÿ. The Besserat family sold the House to Ginsburg in 1997.  The house has been managed since 2005 by Reynald Leclaire, wine broker and also owner of Champagne Leclaire-Thiefaine.

The Wine

I purchased this wine from K&L Wine Merchants.  According to K&L “This is the exact same wine as the De Meric “Grande Reserve Sous Bois” Brut Champagne, now being sold under the name of the late founder, Daniel Ginsburg.”  It’s a blend of 80% Pinot Noir from Ay, Mareuil-Sur-Ay and Mutigny, 15% Chardonnay from Cramant, Avize and Oger and 5% Meunier from Cumieres.

More from K&L..It is vinified half in old oak barrels and half in stainless steel tanks for the perfect balance of rounded richness and zesty refreshment. It is in a big style and has plenty of toasty complexity, but also an elegant, small-beaded texture.”

12% alcohol Retail – $34.99

IMG_0819

My tasting notes follow: 

Golden color with plentiful pin-prick sized bubbles and a  steady bead.  It aromatically exuberant with brioche, hazelnut, quince, and a bit of citrus aromas.  On the palate, it’s full bodied and dense with a delicate creamy mousse  and a toasty baked apple, lemon and a hint of spice flavors.  It’s moderately complex, well-balanced and delicious with a lingering finish.

Rating: A-; If you’re looking for value in a full-bodied Champagne, this one is a winner!

Pair with: Main dishes like Chicken in Garlic Almond Sauce or Rabbit Ragu

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

Champagne Chronicles – Day 5; The Aube

This is the last of my five-part series about my visit to Champagne last month. Check out the previous four posts about my phenomenal week!

  • Day 1 – Guided tour of Reims Cathedral and Champagne dinner
  • Day 2 – C.I.V.C., Roger Coulon, and Veuve Clicquot
  • Day 3 – Louis Roederer, Rene Geoffroy, and Jacquesson
  • Day 4 – Bereche & Fils, Billecart-Salmon, and Bruno Paillard

_______________________________________________________

Last month, I had the privilege of traveling to the Champagne region in France as a guest of the U.S. Champagne Bureau for the 2014 Champagne Harvest Media Trip. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about what makes the Champagne region special via visits to 10 producers including large houses, growers and cooperatives. Our visit included exquisite meals too – all paired with Champagne!

My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne” John Maynard Keynes

Our itinerary for Day 5 was as follows:

Champagne Chronicles - Day 5; The Aube

This photo of the Ource River was taken in the picturesque village of Essoyes – where Renoir spent his summers.

The Aube

Our last full day in Champagne featured a trip to the Côte des Bar  in the Aube department of the Champagne region. The Côte des Bar is one of five regions of Champagne (with the three most well know being, Montagne de ReimsCôte des Blancs, and Vallée de la Marne).

Champagne Chronicles - Day 5; The Aube

Image courtesy of the New York Times

It’s about a two-hour drive south of main Champagne towns of Reims, Epernay, and Aÿ.

I like the way the New York Times put it..Côte des Bar is closer to Chablis than to Épernay, and its limestone and clay soils are more like those of Chablis than the chalky soils to the north. Yet, despite the geological resemblance to Chablis, which makes the most distinctive chardonnay wines in the world, the vast majority of the grapes in the Côte des Bar are pinot noir.  

The Côte des Bar has an often uncomfortable attachment to Champagne that has existed since the Middle Ages. Though its main city, Troyes, was once Champagne’s provincial capital, counterparts in the Marne Valley have generally regarded the area with disdain – enough so, that they rioted in 1911 as part of an effort to block Aube grapes from Champagne. Ultimately the Aube was ushered in, but even today, its 17,000 acres of vineyards receive none of Champagne’s top classifications. Even so, many of the big houses in the north like Moët & Chandon, and Veuve Clicquot source grapes from the region. In fact 50% of the Pinot Noir in Champagne is grown in Côte des Bar

Yet today, the spotlight is unexpectedly shining on the Aube, and its primary growing area, the Côte des Bar. Now, the region is coming to be known for its independent vignerons, whose distinctive, highly sought wines have caught the attention of Champagne lovers the world over. – The New York Times

If you’ve got the time, a visit to the Aube is well worth the drive! The country side is breathtakingly beautiful, and the many of the villages have an almost medieval feel with cobblestone streets.  And put a visit to Troyes on you list –  I know I will!

Champagne Drappier

Drappier is located in the tiny village of Urville (pop. 151).  Upon our arrival at Drappier, we were greeted by Michel Drappier, who is in charge of this family owned and run business these days.  He led us on a tour of the Drappier cellars and the tasting.

Since we’d arrived a bit late we were running behind schedule.  We actually wanted to skip the cellar tour (by the 5th day we’d seen plenty of Champagne cellars). But Michel convinced us it would be worth our time.

It most certainly was!

The history of the house dates back to 1808. But the history of the cellars and vineyards dates back to the 12th century when Saint Bernard had an annex built to Clairvaux Abbey in Urville in 1152! . Part of those cellars still exist and are in use today.

During the tour we learned that Drappier has the distinction of inventing the world’s largest sized Champagne bottle, the Melchizedek, which holds the equivalent of 40 regular size bottles. They also bottle in 11 different sizes from quarter bottle to the aforementioned Melchizedek. Michel indicated that Drappier is the only Champagne house to carry out secondary fermentation in all bottle sizes.

Drappier is the closest thing to a grand marque in the Aube.  They are most certainly doing some very interesting and unique things in the cellar:

  • The amount of sulphur used in the wines is one of the lowest of any Champagne. And they also produce a cuvee – Drappier Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage Sans Ajout de Soufre with no sulfur.
  • They have been producing a Brut Nature, which are become more and more popular these days for over 20 years
  • Their liqueurs d’expédition used in their dosage are aged in oak casks, then in demijohns for more than 10 years. In fact, some of their liqueurs d’expédition are 30-40 years old!

After the tour, we were joined for the tasting by Michel’s charming father André, who at 80 is still active in the business.

We tasted the following wines:

  • Drappier Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage
  • Drappier Champagne Brut Carte d’Or
  • Drappier Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage Sans Ajout de Soufre
  • Drappier Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage
  • Drappier Champagne Quattuor – Blanc de Quatre Blancs (An interesting, and damned delicious cuvee featuring Chardonnay, and three forgotten Champagne grape varieties: Arbane (25%), Petit Meslier (25%) and Blanc Vrai (25%)
  • Drappier Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs
  • 2008 Drappier Champagne Millésimé Exception
  • 2006 Drappier Champagne Grande Sendrée

Wow, the wines were a revelation!  Drappier certainly had the most interesting lineup of wines for tasting during our trip, but more importantly, I found the wines were characterized by a distinctive combination of purity of fruit and balance.

It’s a challenge to pick a favorite, but I was very impressed with the Brut Nature Zero Dosage, and their prestige cuvee, the 2006 Grande Sendrée.  Both are wines I highly recommend! The Brut Nature is 100% Pinot Noir and is light-bodied, dry, polished and crisp with apple, peach, lemon, and citrus character.  The 2006 Grande Sendrée is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir, and 40% Chardonnay sourced from a parcel of land covered by cinders after the fire which ravaged Urville in 1838. It spend 6.5 years on lees. It’s shows perfumed aromas of hazelnut, apple, brioche,and chalk. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and impeccably balanced with baked apple, peach, and citrus flavors.  Dosed at 5g/L with a long finish.

See below for gallery of Champagne Drappier visit

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Champagne Devaux

The House of Veuve A.Devaux, a co-op was founded in 1846. Created by brothers Jules and Auguste Devaux the brand was immediately successful and contributed to the worldwide reputation of Champagne wines. After them Madame Veuve Augusta Devaux a feisty “Champenoise”, took over the company and ran it with energy and talent. At the end of the 19th century three-fourths of the production was exported. For a century the House of Devaux was located in Epernay and remained the property of the founding family for 5 generations. The last of these and without an heir. Jean-Pol Auguste Devaux decided in 1987 to entrust the prestigious brand to the Union Auboise and its president Laurent Gillet. (Source)

We tasted the following wines:

  • Veuve A. Devaux Champagne Blanc de Noirs
  • Veuve A. Devaux Champagne Brut Grande Réserve
  • Veuve A. Devaux Champagne Cuvée Rosée

My favorite was the Blanc de Noirs.  Surprisingly, it was one of the few Blanc de Noir tasting during my week in Champagne.  Blanc de Noir is a Champagne made completely with black grapes, such as Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This one is was made from 100% Pinot Noir and included about 20% reserve wine. It has a delightful soft, elegant, fresh brioche red fruit, roasted apple, dried herb character with some earthy notes.

After our tasting we adjourned to the Devaux what I’ll call the “Guest House” for a fabulous lunch paired with some of the more exclusive Devaux Champagne including a couple from Magnums!

See below for gallery of Champagne Veuve Devaux visit

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Espace Renoir

The attractive Renoir Space was opened in summer 2011. It’s not a museum, as there are no paintings, furniture or artifacts associated with Renoir, but it’s well set out as a series of spaces where you learn more about Renoir the man, and his life. It’s interactive, using films and photographs as well as recordings.

Champagne 9-2014

After we had a chance to see the exhibit in the Espace Renoir, we were treated to a on-site education tasting of Rosé des Riceys with Champagne DeFrance.

Champagne Defrance

I’d never heard of Rose des Riceys prior to the tasting (although unknowingly we had a Veuve Devaux Rosé des Riceys) That’s because very few producers make Rosé des Riceys wines, and in limited quantities, so they are very rarely seen outside France. They are just even rarer than those of Champagne’s other still wine appellation, Coteaux Champenois.

These still Rosé  wines comes from a tiny terroir named Les Riceys made up with three close-knit villages named Riceys-Haut, Riceys Haute-Rive et Riceys-Bas that is only a few kilometers from Burgundy.

The idea is to flirt with making a red wine, without actually making a red wine” – Pascal Morel

The wines are renowned for their ability to age, inimitable aromatics and lightly tannic charcter.

Among our group, opinions about the wines were sharply divided. I found the wines to be very enjoyable, but most it seemed did not.  My favorite was the 2006. It has an alluring strawberry, raspberry, and a bit of sous bois character with wonderful minerality and a slightly tannic grip I quite enjoyed.  I couldn’t but wonder if the wine wouldn’t have been even better with food though…

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Since we had a two-hour drive back to Reims, I had a lot of time to reflect on my week in Champagne.

I found myself experiencing the ambivalence that one may feel at the end of such a awe-inspiring singular experience. There were the joys of experiencing a deep dive into glorious wine that Champagne is, getting to know the immensely talented, charming, and passionate Champenoise, making new friends, and the splendid Champagne pairing meals.

But I also felt a bit of sorrow because it was ending. I wondered if I’ll ever be able to return, and share the experience with my wife.

I hope so! And I wish the same for my family, friends and the readers of this blog.

A visit to Champagne should be on your bucket list.…Santé!