Launch of the 2004 Dom Ruinart Blanc de blanc

Jul 10, 14 Launch of the 2004 Dom Ruinart Blanc de blanc

Posted by in Champagne

Champagne just seems to be coming out of my ears at the moment (not a bad thing in my opinion). Earlier this week I attended an informal tasting with Frederic Panaiotis, cellar master of the house. It was the first tasting of the 2004 Dom Ruinart Blanc de blanc in the UK so we all felt very priviledged. Fred came bounding into the room, slightly wet as he had walked from his hotel to meet us at the offices of LVMH. While we had been waiting for Fred, we had sipped on Ruinart’s NV Blanc de blanc, which is always a light and delightful champagne. It is one of my favourites. Once Fred had a glass of the 2004 in his hand, he told us a bit about Ruinart’s champagne making philosophy. He compared the NV Blanc de blanc as a wine of teamwork – he and his team make the champagne. The Dom Ruinart Blanc de blanc however, is a champagne that is made by nature. Fred remarked that it is the easiest but also the scariest as it is a true expression of the vintage. It is really the year that drives the champagne. The grapes used all come from Grand Cru vineyards which means grapes of a much better quality. As we tasted the 2004, Fred described it as a wine still evolving, changing developing every day. Fred joked that he’s lucky enough to be able to try it most days. Lucky him! As for me, I thought the 2004 was quite a substantial champagne, full of toasty, bready notes, quite vibrant on the palate with a long finish. I think this vintage has quite a bit of life to go and will be interesting to see how it develops.   Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Sabrage at the Stafford Hotel

Jul 09, 14 Sabrage at the Stafford Hotel

Posted by in All

Last night I became a Chevalier sabreur. You might be wondering what that is? Basically I can now perform sabrage or decapitate a bottle of champagne with a sabre. I don’t usually carry a sabre around but you never know… The bottle decapitations or “sabrage” as it’s formally known dates back to Napoleonic times (hence the use of a sabre). According to my sources … it celebrates a tradition that dates back to the Chevalier of the order of the Golden Sabre, where the technique for opening a Champagne bottle with a sabre sword was used for ceremonial occasions. This technique became popular in France when the army of Napoleon visited many of the aristocratic domains.  Napoleon’s spectacular victories across all Europe gave them plenty of reason to celebrate. During these parties the cavalry would open the Champagne with their sabres by sliding along the body of the bottle to break the entire neck away from the bottle, leaving only the base of the bottle open and ready to pour… I was at the Stafford Hotel in Mayfair to celebrate the fact that the hotel is now a ‘Caveau of the Confrerie du Sabre D’Or’. That means that they can perform sabrage in their cellars. The cellars are over 380 years old and were used as air raid shelters during WW II. They are quite atmospheric and the hotel will be using the cellars for events such the sabrage as well as lunches and dinners.  I was given a quick tutorial on how to do sabrage correctly and then – whack! The top of the bottle and cork went flying off into space. A perfect cut. You do have to be careful once you’ve sliced off the head as the glass edges are very sharp. It was great fun to have a go at sabrage and I managed to do it on the first try. Now I only need to do it two more times before I become a fully fledged member. Maybe I can take a whack at a few bottles the next time...

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The Maison Belle Epoque of Perrier Jouet

May 23, 14 The Maison Belle Epoque of Perrier Jouet

Posted by in Champagne

The avenue de Champagne in Epernay is a long and elegant stretch lined with some of the biggest and most famous Houses of Champagne, each behind an imposing gate behind which stand some of the most beautiful examples of 19th century architecture. There is one house that stands out due to its simplicity. Set behind a high wall and iron gates, sits a 2 story white building built around a courtyard. Unbenowst to the casual passer-by, behind the doors lies the largest collection of Art Nouveau in Europe. It is the former home of Perrier family and has now been turned into the Maison Belle Epoque by Perrier-Jouët. Perrier-Jouët tasked two international experts, Camard and Marcihac, to search the auction houses of the world for Art Nouveau works. They were able to acquire over 200 pieces of art, furniture, tableware and lamps. Pieces of art by Gallé, Majorelle, Rodin, Daum, Lalique and others are found throughout the house. Walking into the house, it does take your breath away and I have to admit, just standing in the same room with some of the furniture, I was afraid I was going to break something. The Maison is used by Perrier-Jouët as a guesthouse for its most important visitors when they come to visit but I don’t know think I would use anything if I stayed there. They have one of the most expensive beds in the world, valued at over 300,000 dollars (designed and signed by Gallé) in one of the guest rooms. Even the toilets were too pretty to use. Art Nouveau is not the only art that Perrier- Jouët is interested in. Founded in 213, the Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon is intended to generate lively debate within the art world and select an annual prize winner in contemporary craft. This year’s winner is: Laura Youngson Coll. Laura is a contemporary maker in leather and vellum, based in London who was selected by the Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon members from a shortlist of 10 candidates for...

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Lunching with Moet & Chandon winemaker Elise Losfelt

May 15, 14 Lunching with Moet & Chandon winemaker Elise Losfelt

Posted by in Champagne

Last week I was invited to lunch with one of the young up and coming winemakers of Champagne, Elise Losfelt of Moët & Chandon. Elise is relatively new to the Moët team and is originally from a family of Languedoc winemakers but ended up in Champagne. We met up with Elise at Heston’s Dinner in the Mandarin Oriental. It was my first visit there and I have to say the food does live up to the hype, especially the Meat Fruit – definitely worth trying. But, I’m jumping ahead here. Elise picked Dinner because she though their food would best showcase the bottles of Moët she’d brought for lunch. After much consultation with the Head Sommelier, we settled on the food and dived into the champagnes. We started with the Moët Imperial as Elise thinks that best expresses the house style: bright frutiness, easy to understand with a supple and seductive palate.  I have to admit, I haven’t had Moët Imperial in quite some time but it was ticking all the boxes for me. One thing that Elise pointed out is that all of their champagnes are not extremely acidic but they are built to last. After that we moved onto the Grand Vintages. On hand we had the 2006, 1999 and 1985 in magnum. Of course the Grand Vintages are an expression of the year they come from so they will never be the same but the House still strives for their signature style.  Moët uses over 800 base wines for their Grand Vintages to get the right balance and age-ability. Moët also uses all 3 grapes of the region because as Elise said, they are blenders and each of the grapes are complimentary of the others. Pinot meunier in particular is important for Moët as it gives a freshness to the blend. Since 1993, the House has also been aging a percentage of their Grand Vintages under cork so that they can do late disgorgement. They’ve found that crown cap is good for about 10 years but...

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Laurent Perrier Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester

Mar 31, 14 Laurent Perrier Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester

Posted by in Champagne, Hotels and Spas

Now that Spring has sprung, that means that the RHS Chelsea Flower show is just around the corner. The show was first held in 1913 on the grounds of the Chelsea Hospital and except for gaps during both World Wars, it has been held there ever since. It used to be the biggest flower show until it was overtaken by the Hampton Court show. It is still, however the most prestigious with members of the Royal Family attending Opening Day every year. Laurent Perrier is taking part for the 16th year in the Chelsea Flower Show. I was invited to preview the Laurent Perrier Garden at the flower show as well as the launch of The Dorchesters Afternoon Tea series with Laurent Perrier in The Dorchester’s Penthouse and Pavilion. The Penthouse has fabulous views of the city with the London Eye and other London landmarks clearly visible for miles on a clear day. The Dorchester will be running a Rooftop Afternoon Tea Series with guest speakers during Chelsea Flower Show week from 19 – 25 May 2014. Please visitwww.dorchestercollection.com for further details on speakers. The tea will be served at 2:00pm and 4:30pm. The tea will include a glass of Grand Siècle champagne and an exclusive gift on departure representing a flower from the Chelsea Flower Show garden. Priced at £75 per person. The 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from 20-24 May. The Penthouse and Pavilion are sumptuously decorated and the finger sandwiches and pastries, developed by The Dorchester’s pastry team were delightful. I have to say though, the scones were my favourite. I love clotted cream and strawberry jam. The big debate around the table being, of course, which goes first, the cream or the jam? I’m firmly in the clotted cream first camp but there was plenty of disagreement! All in all a wonderful Afternoon Tea with amazing views and that wonderful Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle to go along with it. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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