Taittinger and Indian cuisine – can it handle the spice?
My regular readers know of my fondness for champagne, some might say obsession, but can I be blamed when champagne is such a versatile wine? Just when I think I have found the best food matches for champagne, along comes a new combination that makes me add another feather to champagne’s cap.
I was invited to dinner at Moti Mahal to see what Taittinger could do when paired with Indian food as well as meet Clovis Taittinger, the next in line at Taittinger. Clovis was in town last week to show off what his family champagne can do when paired with Indian cuisine.Clovis is known as a bit of a wild man and upon meeting him, I could see why – rushing down the stairs, slightly disheveled hair with impish smile and friendly air. He’s like a French, slimmer, darker version of our Mayor, Boris Johnson – and just as amusing. He had us all chuckling within 1 minute of opening his mouth, something about the Kama Sutra and champagne, I think.
Anyway, Clovis went on to tell us a bit about what he thinks makes Taittinger special – the quality and consistency of their wines is their calling card. Their wines are made with a high percentage of chardonnay which they believe gives them the finesse, elegance and delicacy that one expects from Taittinger. When queried about the best years, he replied he doesn’t remember the years, just the moments. A good way out of giving a straight answer he later admitted!
While nibbling on an assortment of canapes we sipped the Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc Brut 2000. Made from 100% grand cru chardonnay it’s a charming wine, Clovis defining it as a “dancing champagne” and if any champagne would do that, it would be the Comtes, great as an aperitif.
Roasted beetroot and peanut salad with a lentil dumpling and yoghurt Chaat was served with the Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé NV. The sweetness of the beetroot was enhanced by the wine, the red fruits becoming more apparent in the blend and a very tasty match. It just goes to show what a great food wine rosé is and it’s versatility. I’m sure it was never envisioned being served alongside lentils and yoghurt.
Seared scallops with coriander and tamarind, crushed lime and cumin peas and monkfish steak with curry leaf and cucumber salad paired with the Taittinger Prelude Grands Crus NV was great! The Prelude is quite a rich and full wine, a blend of Grand Cru chardonnay and pinot noir, aged for 4 years before release. If you’re a fan of cumin, the Prelude made it jump out and the richness of the wine was not lost, if anything, I could really taste the citron flavours of the wine.
One of the pairings that I enjoyed the most was the Comtes de Champagne Rose Brut 2004. A pure and frank rose, it was a deeper rose colour then expected. being almost orangish-red but having very heady aromas and a complex, intense palate. I enjoyed it on it’s own but served with a rose jelly was a delight, the jelly not so sweet that it overpowered the champagne. The red fruit character of the champagne exploded and really lingered. Although it was paired with dessert, I think it would have paired well with the biryani we had beforehand.
I may have had my misgivings about pairing champagne with Indian cuisine but the meal was expertly matched. the cuisine of Moti Mahal is delicately spiced so you won’t be served a chunks of chicken doused in a gloopy mess of orange sauce or soggy veg swimming in tomatoes. Clovis was a very entertaining host and as we slipped off into the night he extended a warm invitation to come and visit. I think I will most definitely take him up on his offer the next time I’m in Champagne.