Summer sipping on the Thames with Billecart-Salmon 2006

Aug 13, 15 Summer sipping on the Thames with Billecart-Salmon 2006

Posted by in Champagne

For the past few years, a group of my friends and I get together and spend a (hopefully) sunny afternoon floating down the upper Thames, sharing our food and wine. As many of my friends are wine bloggers, of course, we have to show off with our special wine finds. This year was no exception. As I’m a big champagne lover, I brought along the Billecart-Salmon 2006 (amongst other wines) to share with my friends. It was a gorgeous day to be floating on the river and we had chosen a route that took us from Henley to Reading. As soon as we got underway, I popped open the Billecart-Salmon. The 2006 is an extra-brut dosage and is composed of 75% pinot noir with the remainder being chardonnay from the Cotes du Blancs. As we sipping along the river, I could hear words such as “creme brulee”, “vanilla”, “red apples”, “pamplemousse” and “spice” being bandied about the boat by my fellow drinkers. I have to agree, the champagne was all that and more, a rich a fine wine, with delicate bubbles and a long finish. A refreshing drink to have on a warm summer’s day floating down the Thames. It’s difficult to bring gourmet cuisine on a small boat but we did have some very good Scotch eggs and I have to say they went very well with the 2006 Billecart-Salmon, the champagne cutting through the rich sausage. A lovely way to spend the day and the 2006 Billecart-Salmon was a great way to kick off the cruise. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

read more

Launch of the Laurent-Perrier ’06 on the Belmond British Pullman

May 06, 15 Launch of the Laurent-Perrier ’06 on the Belmond British Pullman

Posted by in Champagne

Recently, I found myself rolling through the English countryside on a vintage train, drinking vintage Champagne. I was travelling on the Belmond British Pullman train for lunch and the launch of the 2006 vintage of  Laurent-Perrier Champagne. Growing up in California, I never really  had much chance to travel by train but I’ve also been captivated by the idea and to this day, I still love going on a train trip, as long as it’s not on the London Underground. I had been invited to take a train ride and have lunch on the Belmond British Pullman train line. The Belmond was formerly known as the Orient Express but had a name change a few years ago. What hasn’t changed are the trains. Each carriage is an original that has been painstakingly restored. The trains are sometimes called Palaces on Wheels and after having been on one, I can see why. From the polished mahogany doorways to the intricate murals on the lavatory floors, these carriages are one of a kind. The carriages were almost lost to posterity after the 1960’s when they were withdrawn from service in the 1960’s and ’70’s but in 1977, James B Sherwood attended an auction by Sotheby’s  featuring a few carriages and became hooked on the idea of restoring these carriages to their former glory and the Orient Express. Today, thanks to James, we can all enjoy a train trip on these restored beauties. They are now branded under the Belmond name. Check out their website for information on dinners, special events, weekend escapes and even the original Orient Express journey from London to Venice. However, we were there to taste champagne.  The MD of Laurent-Perrier, David Hesketh, was on board to lead us through a tasting of not only the 2006 but also the 2004, 2002 and non vintage as well as the Grande Siecle and Laurent Perrier Demi-Sec with lunch. It was a slightly extravegant lunch but we were lunching on one of the original “Palaces...

read more

An Exploration of Champagne Ruinart Roses

Apr 22, 15 An Exploration of Champagne Ruinart Roses

Posted by in Champagne

“Champagne is best drunk between 9 am and 9 am the next day…” according to Ruinart Chef de Cave, Frédéric Panaïotis. I couldn’t agree more, which is how I found myself one Friday morning in Mayfair ready for a tasting of Ruinart’s rosés going  back to the 1980’s. The morning was dedicated to an exploration of Ruinart’s rosés. According the tasting notes, …”Ruinart is recognised by many as a reference for Blanc de Blanc Champagne and the Rosé wines in its portfolio contain a high percentage of Chardonnay grapes.  Frédéric describes the Ruinart Rosé as “A harmonious blending of two grape varieties, that gives a silky generous feeling on the palate.  The Chardonnay provides exceptional aromatic freshness while the Pinot Noir offers intense colour and delicate red fruits with an unexpected hint of exotic fruits…” I enjoy vertical tastings very much because it’s a chance to see how wines evolve and champagne is no different. We started with their NV rosé as a benchmark to see how the wines evolve over the years. This NV is full of berries and even has a few tropical notes to it. Fred noted that they are hoping to achieve an aromatic style of champagne, bursting with raspberry and strawberry. Fred says this is a rosé for jacuzzis, I’ll have to take his word for it! As we went through the wines, we went from Dom Ruinart 2002, 1998, 1996, 1990 and finished off with the Dom Ruinart 1988. The 2002 was still vibrant and pale pink in colour, still very aromatic on the nose. It was when we got to the 1990’s that the rosés began to turn darker in hue, almost onion skin in colour. The champagnes were also spicer and full of candied fruits on the nose and palate. By the time we go to the Dom Ruinart 1990, we were getting into Christmas pudding territory on the nose, with hints of dates, mushrooms and figs. This is definitely a food wine. Fred recommended this...

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more
%d bloggers like this: