The Champagne Boutique

Champagne Terroir…a silent conpiracy?

In Champagnes on May 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm

The New World has the climate and the French have their God damn Terroir. Proud as a cockerel that is their emblem the French are always talking about their sacrosanct Terroir. Is it that special?

Is it something that really changes the nature of wines? Well, sorry to admit that but it does! Especially in Champagne!

The wine region of Champagne is one of the smallest in the world and despite its small size there are massive differences in climate and soil where various grapes find better places to grow as a whole.

Take the Montagne de Reims by example. Its slopes against the continental cold winds make it haven for Pinot Noir to ripen. The Cote des Blancs being so uniformly flatter than its neighbouring sub regions and exposed to a fair amount of sunshine make it perfect for Chardonnays to mature. Then the western Champagne region starting with the Vallee de la Marne is idyllic for strong Pinot Meuniers to grow or other grapes to get extra ripeness.

We all know that the best Bordeaux are First Growth in the like of Chateau Margaux or Petrus. In Burgundy the most refined examples are Premier and Grand Crus like Echezeau or La Tache. In this particular region there is even better than the Crus, there are the Clos. These small parcels of vineyards are so perfect that the quality of their wines surpasses the best Grand Crus. Very famous are Clos de Vougeot or Clos des Mouches. Everyone knows that a Chablis Premier Cru is ousting any other Chablis as they are standing up above the rest.

What about Champagne? What conspiracy has put the Champagne Terroir in the shadow?

Did you know that there are 17 Grand Crus and 40 Premier Crus Villages in Champagne and that they all have their unique Terroir?

Let’s start with the Montage de Reims. Have you ever heard about the villages of Ambonnay, Bouzy, Verzenay or Verzy? These four fantastic villages are producing the most delicious Pinot Noirs. The richest Blancs de Noirs and most refined Roses de Saignee are coming from these villages. The normal blend for Champagne from the Montagne de Reims will be of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay as 80% of the vineyards in this sub-region are planted with the black grape.

That is because of this unique Terroir that famous Champagne house Krug has created its latest top cuvee with Pinot Noirs from a small parcel in the Village of Ambonnay and sell this vintage Champagne at a staggering £1885.00 a bottle.

In the Vallee de la Marne there is one village with Super Stardom status. That is Ay. Home of great Champagne houses like Gosset, Lallier, Henri Giraud and even Bollinger the whole area surrounding Ay is truly mind blowing. This village is renowned for the richness of its fruits and its particular ripeness. Even if they plant a bit of Meunier, that is Pinot Noir that shines there. The Cuvee Celebris Rose from Gosset is one of its finest examples.

And then there is the much impressive Cote des Blancs. Situated south of Epernay and with massive villages in the like of Le Mesnil sur Oger, Cramant or Avize this is Chardonnay territory all the way down to the Premier Cru village of Vertus. That is where Champagnes for Kings are made. So much that two famous brands have named their top cuvee after the village where the grapes come from. Very famous Salon “Le Mesnil” and Krug “Clos du Mesnil” are prime examples. Most of Champagnes coming from this region are stunning and don’t have to shy away from any Montrachet from Burgundy.

Also that is where the big names are, Selosse, De Sousa, Larmandier-Bernier to name a few.

So why not talk more about this? Why the secrecy? Is it an inconvenient truth?

Well it might be. If the general public was buying Champagne the way they buy Bordeaux or Burgundy it is very likely that the cards will be re-distributed…to the benefit of Boutique Champagnes.

Something we would not complain about

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Noma voted Best Restaurant in the World twice and best Champagne list by us!

In Sommeliers on April 20, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Noma has been voted yet again the Best restaurant in the World for the second year running and we love it.

We love it because of its philosophy. Chef Rene Redzepi is a king of “Nordik” gastronomy and has mastered foraging the plants and herbs that are edible and have been forgoten through time.   Celebrating friendship is one of his motos and this restaurant is renown for the well being of its staff.

The menu is eclectic and has a strong emphasis on fish that makes its sommelier and partner Pontus Elofsson’s job very interesting and exiting.

What is interesting in Pontus choice of Champagne is that (We praise it!) he bravely list only Boutique Champagnes!

Tarlant, Larmandier-Bernier, Jerome Prevost, Laherte and Cedric Bouchard to name of few, the list is simply impressive.

We are delighted that such an iconic restaurant has chosen this path and hope that it will give way to a real revolution in the restaurant world and show that after all…they are not that bad those Boutique Champagnes!

Click HERE to see the wine list!

A very Royal Wedding Breakfast with Boutique Champagnes

In Champagnes, Marc & Andrew on April 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm

It is one event happening only once a generation. On April 29th his Royal Highness Prince William will marry Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey. To celebrate this grand day we will have an extended weekend and another valid excuse to drink some Champagne and gather friends and family around the table. For this Royal occasion we are suggesting you a pure British breakfast to be toasted with the most delicious and appropriate Boutique Champagnes.

First you need to set the dining table and make sure your finest china and silverware are polished and ready for use. Three colours should apply on the table that are Blue, Red and White and a Union Jack should be at sight in the room. For your glasses make sure you have two Champagne flutes, one white wine and one red wine glass per guest. A table from six to eight guests is ideal.

Concerning the menu, go British all the way, from nibbles to cheeses with an extra touch of Scottish as William and Kate found love at St Andrews.

I suggest you to serve three types of nibbles for the drink reception and serve two rounds of them.

There, no need to go bonkers. A simple Smoked Salmon on Toast with a drizzle of lemon juicean horseradish cream will do well to start. Then send a very cold Pea and Mint Mousse in a shot glass with a tea spoon. That will wake up your taste buds. To finish serve a warm mini crab cake with a dollop of Tartare sauce . With this trio you can be sure that everyone will love this start. A bowl of Bombay Mix can be welcome on the side.

You will serve these appetizers with Champagne Francois Diligent Brut N.V. This fantastic Blanc de Noirs Champagne is light, refreshing and expresses a delicate Pinot Noir with hints of bruised apple and nuts. This will be a great moment of refinement and a fantastic start to your Royal Wedding Breakfast.

For the starter we will look at celebrating Britain by using ingredients that are truly local. It is a call for Hand Dived Scallops from the shores of Scotland served with Stornoway Black Pudding and Scottish Forest Girolles mushrooms and roasted Granny Smith. These flavours work fantastically well together and this recipe is easier to make that it seems. As much as the mushrooms and the black pudding would do with fairly oaky Champagne it will need to be a Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) to bring this extra apple freshness to the match. It will work wonders with the sweet flavours of the Scallops. For this “out of this world” starter no other Champagne will work than Andre Jacquart Premier Cru Vertus Experience Brut N.V. Leave the bottle to rest at room temperature for ten minutes and then serve it in a white wine glass to get a maximum of aromas and enhance your experience.

The main course will have to be stylish, rich in flavour and really branded British. That is the reason why we have chosen 28 days aged Aberdeen Angus Beef Wellington, Creamy Mushroom sauce served with Nipps and Tatties and English Asparagus. Scottish beef is so tender that it just melts in the mouth. The meat will be browned in butter and placed on a bed of wilted spinach and a mushroom duxelles and wrapped in puff pastry before being roasted. The nice thing about this dish is that everything can be prepared in advance and will just have to be put in the oven when your starters will be served.

With this main course fit for a future King you will need Champagne with lots of personality, strong earthy flavours and enough body to sustain the richness of flavours. A Blanc de Noirs made of the finest Pinot Noir grapes from the most prestigious Grand Cru village of Ambonnay will do the trick just fine. For the one of you who has won the lottery recently I would strongly recommend Krug Clos D’Ambonnay 1996 at £1885.00 a bottle. If you are like me and still have to meet your bills requirements but still want to treat yourself and your guests with fantastic Champagne the choice of Soutiran Grand Cru “Perle Noire” Brut N.V. makes more sense. Rising star that has impressed many wine pros at the Champagne Bureau annual tasting, the cuvee “Perle Noire” is packed with flavours and will be the perfect companion to your beef Wellington. I promise you a “time of your life” moment with this combination. Make sure the Champagne has rested ten minutes at room temperature before pouring it in red wine glasses. For the more adventurous, you can decant this champagne to add to the wow effect.

With summer on the horizon your choice of dessert will have to be a “sunshine caller” and use what Britain is producing at best: red fruits. A summer pudding filled with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries served fresh from the fridge with a generous serving of whipped cream will conclude royally your meal. This dessert is a real crowd pleaser and will work marvel with pink champagne with a good dosage to it. That is why we chosen the Henri Giraud “Esprit Rose” Brut N.V.

Made of 70% Pinot Noir and 22% Chardonnay and 8% Ay Rouge in oak barrels, this mouth watering Champagne reveals clear Aromas of Bigaro Cherries, fresh Berries with delicate scent of Spices and freshly cracked Black Pepper. Its Mouthful Palate shows Intense Juiciness, Vigorous Freshness and round all flavours in a medium to long length. This will be the perfect compliment to your summer pudding bringing sunshine all around the table. Serve it in Champagne Flutes straight from the fridge for a great result.

Feel free to finish your meal with a board of British cheeses and a nice bottle of vintage port.

That, my friends, is our idea of the perfect Royal Wedding Breakfast. It is a celebration of the finest food Britain can offer today and will surely make this event one of the bests in generations.

If you fancy creating this meal in your own home, just click on the dishes to download the recipes.

We have created a Royal Wedding Box for the occasion. This box contain two bottles of Francois Diligent Brut N.V., one bottle of Andre Jacquart Premier Cru Vertus Experience, one bottle of Soutiran Grand Cru “Perle Noire” Brut N.V. and two bottles of Henri Giraud “Esprit Rose” Brut N.V.

Case value: £194.20 plus £15.00 delivery charge.

Limited offer until 27th April 2011

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