Via hologram Dom Perignon declares 2003 vintage

Dec 08, 11 Via hologram Dom Perignon declares 2003 vintage

Posted by in Champagne

2003 was a tough year to be a grape in Champagne. First they had to contend with an unusually cold winter followed by a deceptively warm spring only to be zapped by hail and not once, but twice by frost, the worst of which was on April 11th destroying up to 3/4 of the Côte des Blancs Chardonnay crop. To add insult to injury that was followed by one of the hottest summers for 53 years. They say that the vines should suffer but honestly, this was almost too much for even the hardiest vine. The grapes that managed to survive were harvested at the earliest date since records began in 1822. Chef de Cave, Richard Geoffroy felt despite the adverse conditions that he could make a wine worthy of Dom Perignon and even calls the 2003 vintage a “Challenge to Creation”.  The 2003 was unveiled at a simultaneously transmitted event in 5 cities, New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris and London. Although there was a video hookup, Richard was also present via hologram, too cool for school. He took questions from the various cities and commented that it was… “a real challenge for the creation of Dom Pérignon. I needed to interpret it differently. It was a risk, a push-back of the boundaries, which may be rewarded now. My wish is for Dom Pérignon to remain in the history of Champagne as one of the greatest witnesses of the 2003 Vintage.” So how did the 2003 fare? Speaking to various champagne professionals who were present, the wine was certainly not typical Dom Perignon. That’s not to say it did not have merit but it was a different beast, starting off with a nutty and candied fruit nose, dipping into licorice notes on the palate – a surprisingly mineral filled palate, a hint of salinity at the end, a vibrant wine, drinking well now but one that has aging capacity. Drinking it on it’s own we were able to appreciate the nuances of the...

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Champagne dinners at The Ritz

Oct 12, 11 Champagne dinners at The Ritz

Posted by in Champagne, France

Walking into The Ritz, I couldn’t help but be slightly overwhelmed by the opulence of the hotel – red velvet, gigantic golden chandeliers, marble and damask as far as the eye can see, now I know where the expression “putting on the Ritz” comes from, you can’t help but feel like should be dressed in your best when in such classically lush surroundings. All very old school but in the best possible way. I was directed to the Marie Antoinette Suite for the canape and champagne reception before dinner. The Ritz is the kind of hotel that has a champagne of the month, naturally, and this month, it was Perrier-Jouet’s turn to be featured and hosted. As it it the biencentennial of the founding of Perrier-Jouet, Head Chef John Williams created a sumptuous 5-course meal paired with some of the finest vintages of Perrier-Jouet for that evenings dinner. The Ritz has also invited Chef de Cave of the House, Herve Deschamps to elucidate us on the vintages that we would be enjoying with dinner. After drinks, it was on to the Music Room for dinner. The room is actually located in the William Kent House right next to the hotel. It was built in the 1780’s and added onto the hotel after being beautifully restored. The champanges featured included the 2004 Belle Epoque, the Grand Brut Millesime 1998, the Belle Epoque 1996 in magnum and the Belle Epoque 2004. Perrier Jouet champagnes are quite fresh and very good partners to rich cuisine, having excellent acidity and bubbles which are not too aggressive. The dish of seared scallops with smoked eel, bacon and watercress was the best match of the evening with the Millesime 1998, the toasty notes of the champagne quite agreeable with the smoked eel and highlighting the sweet notes of the scallops. The Ritz does champagne dinners once a quarter and the next one will be at the end of the year. The Ritz charges £195 per person for the dinners. For...

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Perrier Jouet Cuvee Belle Epoque – jeroboams and magnums

  Is there anything nicer then a magnum of champagne? How about a couple of vintage bottles of champagne in jeroboam? I ran into my friend, Neil Phillips, not long ago at the Harper’s Champagne summit held at the Soho Hotel in Central London recently and he twisted my arm  into trying the Perrier-Jouët Cuvée Belle Epoque range of magnums and jeroboams he just happened to have on hand.  As well as being a summit on all things champagne, there was a small selection of exclusive and rare champagnes for us to taste throughout the day long event. One thing I discovered about jeroboams (capacity 3 litres) is that the champagne is decanted into the bigger bottles after it has gone through secondary fermentation. The biggest bottle that a champagne house will do a secondary ferment in is a magnum as anything larger then that and the logistics of containing the fermenting wine inside the bottle become a bit of a nightmare. Imagine jeroboams exploding in the cellar because the pressure was just too high for the glass. There is a champagne house that doesn’t decant and their full nebuchadnazzer (15 litres) specially made bottles can weigh up to 38 kilos ! Some people might complain that decanting the magnums into larger format bottles makes the champagne flat but that is a matter of opinion. As for me, I had the pleasure to taste the 1995 & 1996  in jeroboam and the ‘2002 in magnum Perrier Jouët’s vintage Cuvée Belle Epoque, complete in their flower bedecked bottles. The bottles are even prettier and the flowery motif just seems to work better on the bigger bottles, not that I don’t like the normal sized painted bottles. There are some who say that wine ages best in magnum sized bottles and I am inclined to agree with that assessment. Whether it is because the wine has more room to develop or who knows, really? Once the bottle is sealed we still don’t know what goes on...

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Vintage champagne -Veuve Clicquot Grande Dame and cheese

May 14, 10 Vintage champagne -Veuve Clicquot Grande Dame and cheese

Posted by in Champagne, Food and Wine

Champagne and cheese might not be your first choice when it comes to wine and food matching. How about VINTAGE champagne and cheese? Does that sound any more enticing? It did to me. Hell, just mention vintage champagne and I’m there holding out my glass to be filled. I love vintage champagne, what can I say? The complex aromas and deeper flavours that are found in these wines get me every time. I’ve had people in the wine trade tell me they couldn’t drink vintage champagne everyday but I don’t think you could count me in that camp. What makes a champagne vintage? Too make a long story short, vintage champagne, like vintage port, is not declared every year. Only the years that are deemed to have produced the best grapes are allowed to be declared vintage years.Vintage champagne is also often held for many  more years than non-vintage champagne before release. While it’s true that red wine is what usually pops to mind with cheese, I was invited to an unusual champagne tasting the other day by Veuve Clicquot and Bibendum Wines. The aim was to show that their prestige vintage, Veuve Grande Dame Brut and Grande Dame Rosè are not just for special occasions but can be a delightful way to end a meal. Any meal ending with champagne is a delight as far as I’m concerned. In one corner we had 2 Veuve Clicquot magnums,the Grande Dame Brut ’95 and the Grande Dame Rosè ’98 along with a regular sized bottle of the Grande Dame Brut ’98 pitted against 3 soft and 3 hard cheeses. The cheeses: Goat’s Cheese from France Chaource Rouzaire from Champagne (France) Cacio Fiore from Latium (Italy) Pecorino from Sardinia (Italy) Queso Manchego from La Mancha (Spain) Old Winchester from Hampshire (England) The ’95 Brut seemed to be the best match all around. Still quite lively and fresh on the palate it was an ok match to the goat cheese but was even better with the pecorino,...

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Lunch partners Bruno and Joel (Paillard and Robuchon)

Picture it – 10:20 Monday morning, just sitting down to the laptop, still in my jammies with a nice big pot of coffee by my side, thinking of heading over to the California wine trade tasting later that afternoon. (Riiiiing, riiiiing) “Hullo?” “Denise? Hi, it’s Dan from Bibendum. Listen I’m very sorry to bother you. Are you busy today? ” “Just the California show today. Why? Are you going?” “I know this is really short notice and I do apologise but do you think you’d be available to hop on down to Covent Garden for a champagne tasting and lunch? I’m really sorry for such short notice. It’s Bruno Paillard Champagne at Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier in Covent Garden and …um, someone dropped out and we have an extra space and…um… it would be great if you could make it by 11:30.” “11:30?!?!” It takes at least 45 minutes to get to Central London from my house but I wasn’t going to miss this lunch. California would be there til 5:30 and Hell, I’m from there! I promised I’d be at L’Atelier as close to noon as possible. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten ready so quick and I made it with seconds to spare. The luncheon was hosted by Bruno Paillard himself and Willie Lebus, one of  the Directors of Bibendum Wines. We started off with a tasting of Bruno’s Old Disgorgements Collection which was the occasion we were commemorating. The collections consisted of 5 bottles that had been disgorged at various intervals from 6 months to 12 years in order to appreciate the evolution of the champagne. As Bruno explained, after disgorgement, (basically removing the dead yeast cells after the second fermentation), the wine really comes into it’s own, aging throughout the years, passing through 5 or 6 distinct stages ranging from fruit dominated flavours and aromas all the way to the candied fruits and aged roasted notes of mature champagne. What can I say about the wines. Bruno Paillard is one of my favourites and I’ve written about his champagnes previously. I just love his style of champagnes, full...

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