Ruinart and art, Masterpiece Art Fair

Jul 03, 13 Ruinart and art, Masterpiece Art Fair

Posted by in Champagne

Masterpiece Art Fair was this past week and I was invited to a unique art and champagne matching tour of the event by the champagne house Ruinart. Masterpiece Art Fair is an annual event that takes place on the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital. Every year they erect a temporary art gallery where you can find everything from Greek Sculptures to Maserati cars on display, all for sale. It’s nice to see how the other half lives now and then. Ruinart is one of the sponsors and holds masterclasses on their champagnes throughout the show. This year they decided to do something a big different and invited a group of journalists and writers to a blind tasting with a twist. We were to go on a tour of the show and stop and selected pieces of art where we would be given a short lecture and then a Ruinart champagne that was selected to accompany it. It was a bit like the whole matching wine with music exercise. As a matter of fact, we did have some music as well thrown into the tour! We visited 6 artworks and at each were given a black tasting glass with the Ruinart to match. It was fun to try and match the champagne with the mood of the art while we were viewing it. As it was blind, it was hard to pick out which vintage or even blend we were tasting but it was fun to put down our observations, drinking in the art and the champagne at the same time. What came as a surprise was that after the tour, we went back and sat down to find out what champagnes we had been drinking. Turns out, they had all been the Ruinart blanc de blanc in various bottle sizes! I had guessed the first one was a blanc de blanc but after that my guesses were all over the place. Afterwards, we had a chat with Gerard Basset OBE, who had organised...

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Krug Kitchen at Aveqia

Jun 21, 13 Krug Kitchen at Aveqia

Posted by in Champagne, London

Last year I visited Aveqia in Farringdon and took part in a very fun evening, making dinner whilst being supervised by very friendly and helpful Aveqia chefs. So I was delighted to be invited back to preview The Krug Kitchen, a private cooking studio designed by Italian design studio Minotticucine and kitted out with Gaggenau’s state of the art appliances. I especially liked the wine fridge full to the brim with Krug Grande Cuvee. Of course the entire studio is overlooked by a golden K set on the background of  a burgundy coloured sign. I was there with a group of wine friends and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, cooking up a storm whilst sipping on Krug Grande Cuvee. The premise behind the Krug Kitchen is to match Krug’s champagnes with the 4 courses that we prepared. Aveqia prides itself on having a staff of Michelin starred chefs on hand and it’s certainly reflected in the quality and imagination put into each dish that we cooked up. We started with the Krug 1998 paired with Grapefruit cured salmon with a buckthorn dressing, salted pistacios and smoked mayonnaise. I really liked the ’98 with this dish as the grapefruit really stood out and the ’98 cut right thought the fatty salmon. A pleasure to eat and drink. The second course was one of my favourite dishes, foie gras – yum! Unfortunately, there was a very sweet verjus gelee, glazed pineapples and red grapes as garnish which in my opinion did nothing for the Krug 2000. I love the 2000, a rich and toasty wine, it was great with the foie gras by itself but was overpowered by the sweet accompaniments. The Krug rosé is one of my favourite rosés because it is so delicate yet full of intense flavours. I’m always happy to see it when it makes an appearance. It’s even better when you drink it with a meal and the roasted guinea fowl, vasterbotten cheese croquettes and morels were hearty but not too much for the rosé....

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Debut of the Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru 2002

Jun 12, 13 Debut of the Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru 2002

Posted by in Champagne

More champagne today. As Liberace said, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful…”  (I just saw “Behind the Candelabra” – good movie but didn’t knock my socks off. And that is the end of my film critic career…) ANYWAY, back to the more important stuff…It’s that time of year when the champagne houses release their vintages and Alice  Paillard was in London last week to introduce the Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blanc Grande Cru 2002 and it’s brand new label. Sitting with Alice and listening her speak so passionately about her family’s champagnes is infectious. Describing the champagnes, she really showed the care and detail that goes into all of them, not just the Blanc de Blanc. They age their wines until they feel they are ready, they want to show the style of  the vintages, which helps explain why they are just now releasing the 2002 when most of the other major houses have long ago released theirs. The 2002 Blanc de blanc Grand Cru was a surprise – still very taut and zinging with minerality, it has a floral quality to it. The grapes come the first pressing of 2 Cotes de Blancs Grand Cru – Oger and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and have spent over 10 years on their lees. Alice said that she and her father, Bruno, differed on this champagne, he thinks it’s pretty and floral and in her opinion, it’s a vertiginous champagne, it has a fine structure -she sees it as a champagne of geometry (I think her father is the romantic in the family and she’s the pragmatist). Drinking it, I could appreciate both their points of view. A very pretty nose, full of floral qualities but totally different on the palate – a champagne that does indeed have structure or better yet, for me, it had many different layers. The more I drank, the more I discovered. We had a starter of cured salmon, avocado, crab and orange slices with the B de B 2002 which...

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London Launch of Dom Perignon 2004

Jun 09, 13 London Launch of Dom Perignon 2004

Posted by in Champagne

The Dom Perignon 2004 was an “effortless” wine to make, according to Chef de Cave, Richard Geoffroy. Richard was elucidating on the 2004 during a recent presentation here in London. 2004 was a very good year for grapes, unlike 2003 where just about everything conspired against the vines. For Richard, the challenge was to bring out the character of the grapes in 2004, that year was all about the blending. He compared recent vintages, 2002, 2003, and 2004  and for him, it’s all about the challenge of making a cool climate wine in hot years, something that is occurring with more and more frequency as climate change seems to be taking hold. Although Dom Perignon has a “style”, they are constantly striving for a “re-invention” of what is a Dom Perignon champagne. We then tasted the 2004 and it was although it was a very different champagne from the recent vintages, it still had that DP finesse and elegance. This one however, differed greatly from the 2003, being much more soft and understated. Extremely aromatic at first, with a fresh, mineral nose of spices, dried flowers and, as it developed in the glass, orange blossoms. A soft champagne with very fine bubbles, the 2004 whispers elegance. A fine minerality runs through it along with white peach and citrus notes. This is a champagne that is going to evolve and upon reflection, probably even more so then the 2003. Along with the 2004, we were served a variety of dishes as DP believe that their champagne while often served as an aperitif is best when served with food. The best pairing of the event was the wild sorrel and lemon sole dish – although there was no anise in the dish, that’s all I could taste. Amazingly, it all came from the champagne, a triumph of food and wine matching. I loved it. Of course, we also had caviar, as Richard said, “I cannot think of a Dom Perignon experience without caviar…” I couldn’t agree...

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Visiting The House of Billecart-Salmon Champagne

Jun 07, 13 Visiting The House of Billecart-Salmon Champagne

Posted by in Champagne, Travel

  Billecart-Salmon was one of the first quality champagnes I tried when I moved to England so when they invited me to visit the house and meet one of the family, Francois-Roland Billecart, I was happy to take them up on the trip. We stopped off in Paris first for lunch at Guy Savoy, where they feature Billecart-Salmon as their house champagne. Guy Savoy is a 3 Michelin starred restaurant and the meal was, understandably fantastic. A fresh, seasonal menu, paired with Billecart-Salmon was a great way to start off the trip. We started with the Blanc de Blancs Grande Cuvee non vintage, followed by the Vintage 2004 and we  finished with the Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart 1999 from carafe and not from carafe. Billecart-Salmon have designed their very own carafe, reflecting the shape of their bottles from the past. There is a difference when tasting the champagne from carafe. I find that the more wine-like qualities of the champagne come forward and although the bubbles are there, they are subdued. After a short 2 hour lunch, we hopped on the TGV and headed to Mareuil-sur-Ay and the house of Billecart-Salmon. The house was founded in 1818 and is still one of the few family owned houses in Champagne. Francois-Roland and his wife, Edith, now live in a half of the family house, the  other half used as accommodation for special guests. An elegant building, built from the tan coloured stones that are common in the region, the two story edifice is very welcoming and comfy, having the feel of old money, beautifully decorated, not ostentatious but tasteful. Over dinner we talked about their latest cuvee, the Sous Bois. This champagne is different in that it is vinified in oak barrels which gives it a very distinctive style. Francois -Roland believes that “in Champagne, they have reached a point where there is not a big difference in quality, it’s very important to find a new field” to appeal to consumers. However, he still wants to...

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Champagne cellar snapshot

May 14, 13 Champagne cellar snapshot

Posted by in Champagne, Travel

I took this cellar snapshot when I was in Champagne recently visiting Billecart-Salmon. There is 5 years worth of mold on the bottles. Just waiting for their day of disgorgement… Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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