Tag Archives: Cava

10 Helpful Hints For Pairing Wine and Food

“Have you thrown up your hands in despair and confusion with too many choices? In that case, just remember one word: champagne.  It’s refreshing, relatively low in alcohol and sufficiently neutral to go with a myriad of foods.One minor tweak might be to have  a more full-bodied vintage champagne with red meats and non-vintage champagne with everything else.  That’s a lot easier to remember than what wine goes with yak.” ~ Sam Gugino, contributing editor to Wine Spectator and author of Cooking to Beat the Clock.

Be adventurous and have fun with wine/champagne and food pairings using these helpful hints:

1.Purchase the book “WHAT to DRINK with WHAT you EAT”, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. 

This easy to use reference book is our “Pairing Bible”. Our local wine shop keeps a copy so that we can refer to it when deciding which wine and food to purchase at their shop. Just look up the wine you want to pair and the book will tell you the foods to serve with that wine (includes other libations as well such as liquor and beer)  or look up the food you want to serve and it will suggest the wine/libation to serve. This book makes a thoughtful gift for your wine loving friends too.

pumpkin-pie-with-whipped-cream-on-top

2. Surprise your taste buds and experiment with the unexpected.  One of the best food and libation pairings I’ve tasted was single malt scotch and pumpkin pie.  If you are in the mood to splurge pair  Macallan 18 Year – Single Malt Scotch Whiskey with pumpkin pie. Otherwise Macallan 12 year old is a very nice pairing.    Notes of spice, dried apricots  and wood smoke enhance the autumn spice flavors in the pie.

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3.  Don’t force it.  If you truly do not like a food or wine ~  pairing it will not necessarily make it better.  I recently read in Milk Street Magazine that licorice and champagne make a delicious pairing.  Problem in that I can’t stand licorice. It might just be an old wives tale but I’ve heard that if you are born with a certain gene then you like licorice, if you don’t have that gene then you don’t like licorice. I definitely don’t have that gene.  But, I am a good sport so I tried this pairing a few weeks ago. My mouth is still puckering whenever I think about it…ick!

3. Start a conversation with someone you respect in the wine world.

One of my favorite wine blogs is Talkavino.com.  Anatoli is the author of this blog that chronicles his explorations in wine, food and life.  I recently asked Anatoli about his approach to wine and food pairing, especially champagne:

Overall, I find Champagne to be one of the most versatile pairing wines available, as there are plenty of different Champagne types which will support any kind of dinner. My typical approach to pairing is – let me know what the menu is, and I will come up with the pairing. If the occasion even a little bit formal, I always like to open with sparkling wine – it sets the mood. I find that Rosé sparklers perfectly compliment most of the appetizers and salad courses – the Rosé is typically playful enough with just a touch of a fruit to complement the widest array of flavors, and the acidity helps to cut through a variety of textures, from oysters to mushroom beignets to foie gras.

The vintage Champagne would typically work very well with the variety of entrée – I can perfectly see steak and vintage Champagne as a combination, as the mature flavors of Champagne would meld very well with the steak. I’m sure that there is a Champagne for every type of food you want to serve, and the inherent acidity, which is in Champagne’s DNA, makes it ultimately food friendly.

My only challenge would be with the dessert, as I’m not familiar with sweet Champagnes, so to be entirely honest, my typical choice for a dessert sparkler is Moscato d’Asti or Brachetto  d’Acqui, depending on the food. But – if my main course Champagne was Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill or Piper-Heidsieck Rare, you can keep the dessert, I will stay with Champagne.”

thewineraconteur.wordpress.com writes engaging and entertaining stories about wine.  One of my favorites posts about wine pairing is on his blog:  https://thewineraconteur.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/mwwc-21-pairing/

Here’s the wineaconteur’s thoughts on champagne and food pairing:

I usually like my bubbles at the beginning of the meal, and it doesn’t always have to be Champagne. Sparkling wines from Alsace, the Loire, California and even Michigan all work for me, it is more the moment, as I tend to shoot from the hip and not much of a control freak. I am honored that you asked my opinion. I find that Champagne makes any meal more festive and if I could have a steady diet of any one Champagne, I guess it would be Dom, as it seems to be the one that I have had the most, and the one I write about the most often.

Tonya, author of the blog Fourth Generation Farm Girl loves bubbly as much as I do…she is currently pursuing the WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust based in London) with her husband Scot, affectionately known on her blog as “Farmguy”.  She has lovely memories about champagne and food pairing:

fourthgenerationfarmgirl.com

As far as pairing food and Champagne goes, in my opinion, Champagne is incredibly versatile with food—that’s why I love it.  So, when in doubt, drink bubbly!  Ideally, the best pairings happen when the Champagne is chosen first, then paired with food.  This is because a recipe can be altered to perfectly match the characteristics of a wine. However, unless you’re a chef, that’s not always realistic. The wonderful thing about Champagne is it goes well with so many foods.  It’s excellent with Asian food, braised foods, eggs and egg dishes, all kinds of seafood (e.g. lobster, monkfish, salmon, oysters, shrimp, turbot, cod) chicken, turkey, quail, rabbit, pork, vegetarian dishes, truffles, cheeses, especially ones that are creamy and salty, pizza, French fries, popcorn, gingerbread, and the list goes on and on.  Basically, if your food has butter, cream, or salt in it or is fried, then Champagne is the answer. Think:  fried chicken, buttery popcorn, or triple cream brie cheese. My personal favorite Champagne pairing is with truffle popcorn.  I first had it while dining at The Inn at Little Washington.   Farmguy and I were celebrating an anniversary, and our amuse- bouche was truffle popcorn paired with Ruinart Blanc de Blancs.  It was heavenly! 🙂

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4. Do  not limit yourself to pairing only wine and champagne with food.  Include beer and hard cider on your menu.

per se

Meeting Thomas Keller and touring the Per Se kitchen was one of the highlights of our trip to New York City.

A favorite pairing at Per Se ~ Thomas Keller’s restaurant in New York City is: Olive oil ice cream with chocolate and sea salt; and Thyme ice cream with drizzle of warm extra virgin olive oil topped with a chocolate wafer disc.

Paired with Ale: La Choulette Blonde (a beautiful surprise — this traditional French ale is toasty, nutty, and creamy — yum)

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5. Get to know your local wine merchant and ask their opinion on wine and food pairings.  One of my favorite local wine shops in Roanoke, Virginia is Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, owner Bill Phillips. We recently had a conversation about pairing and he recommends choosing the wine first.  “The chefs I’ve worked with always suggest identifying the wines first and then choosing foods to go with the wines.  You can always tweak the food selections but once you’ve chosen the wines you’ve made an investment and you won’t necessarily want to change them.”

6. Keep it simple.

prosecco and nuts pairing

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava pairs perfectly with simple roasted lightly salted almonds and walnuts.

EF Brie Cheese with bread

A triple creme cheese with a crusty baguette is always a good pairing with many sparkling wines and champagne. Quick and easy to serve last minute guests.

7. Find on-line resources you trust and read about pairings. Here’s a good one from Epicurious:

https://www.epicurious.com/archive/drinking/wine/champagne-sparkling-wine-food-pairings

And I always enjoy reading the advice of Ray Isle, Food and Wine Magazine’s Wine Editor:

http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/an-experts-pairing-advice

8. Practice makes perfect pairings.  You may find that some pairings do not work well for you and that’s OK.  Just keep pairing and keeping notes and soon you will have a wine and food pairing repertoire to share with family and friends.

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9.  Look to the experts:

“The Scent of Champagne,” by champagne expert Richard Juhlin is one of my favorite books. It addresses the thorny issue of pairing champagne with food. He explains what pairs well with champagne and what foods to avoid serving with champagne. He’s done all the “heavy lifting” for us in search of the perfect champagne and food pairings.

I encourage you to learn  more about champagne pairings and Juhlin’s fascinating background:
10.  Brown bag it.  A fun way to taste wine and champagne is to serve it in a brown bag without anyone knowing what’s in the bottle.  Your taste buds will begin to recognize flavors such as the citrus in champagne that is primarily chardonnay grapes, the peppery notes in Shiraz, grapefruit flavor in Pinot Grigio.  Using this method it is a good idea, at least at first, to taste wines/champagnes that have only one predominant grape so not to confuse your taste buds.
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Readers, what is your favorite wine/champagne food pairing? I would love to hear from you!

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A Toast To Summer…Fresh Green Pea With Radish And Lemon Zest Toast + CAVA

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pea toasts and lemon

Fresh Green Pea With Radish And Lemon Zest Toast

toast

Bakery fresh baguette slices toasted.

pea toasts

Cook fresh green peas until almost mushy.  Add butter, sea salt and a dash of fresh cream.  Mash peas. Top baguette slices with mashed peas.  Top peas with mandoline thin slices of radish, lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper.

pea toast

Serve with a lovely Spanish Cava…

Cava F

Freixenet Brut Blanc de Blanc

This bubbly Cava is produced by the same winery that gives us Gloria Ferrer, one of my favorite sparkling wines:  https://www.gloriaferrer.com/carneros-winery

The perfect casual summer sipper…from Catalonia, Spain. 100% Chardonnay grapes.  A sparkling value…$10 range.  Lots of fun bubbles. Notes of baked apple with just a touch of lemon. Available on-line. I also found this Cava locally at Tinnell’s in Roanoke, Virginia. http://tinnells.com

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fiesta-friday-2016

 

River And Rail’s Spanish Wine Dinner Featuring Pares Balta Winery And CAVA!

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Spanish Dinner…Deliciousa!

http://riverandrailrestaurant.com

shirt river and rail

A very nice gentleman let me take a photo of his Veuve Clicquot Champagne Shirt!

champagne river and rail

We began our lovely Spanish dinner experience with a glass of Parés Baltà Cava Blanca Cusiné.

https://paresbalta.com/

Parés Baltà is a family owned traditional winery that goes back to 1790.  We produce high quality wines and cavas with grapes from our 5 estates, situated around the winery and in the mountains of Penedès. The altitude varies from 170 to 750m and offers a diverse mixture of soils and microclimates. That gives a special personality to our wines by bringing the essence of the Mediterranean ecosystem to our grapes.  At Parés Baltà, the winemaking is in the hands of Mª Elena Jiménez and Marta Casas, oenologists and wives of Joan and Josep. Two skilled young women whose efforts are reflected in the quality of the wines, showing fine character and concentration yet with elegance and balance.

Cava Blanca Cusiné ~ Xarel·lo, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir grapes.  Light golden color with fine consistent bubbles.  Delicate notes of almonds, hazelnuts, and honey.  Long and complex finish.

Served with artfully created passed hors d’ oeuvresountry Ham & VA Ramp C

Country Ham and VA Ramp Croquettes appetizer river and rail
try Ham & VA Ramp Croquettes
BBQ Octopus Skewers & Espelette Glazeoctopus
 Manchango Cheese Crispscrackers

 

Sneads Ferry Clam Linguine, Fingerling Potatoes, Lamb Prosciutto, English Peas, Paddlefish Roe & Breadcrumb

Paired with 2016 Calcari White Blend

river and rail linguine

So happy to see Black Garlic incorporated into this dish…

Duck Morcilla Sausage/Red Beets, Yellow Corn Grits, Cherry Marmalade

Paired with Balta Rose de Pacs 2016

Beef River and Rail

Aged Rib Eye/Ferro Verde, Charred Onion, Morel Mushrooms, Black Garlic

Paired with Gratavinum Priorat 2piR 2011

River and Rail Beefriver and rail wine

And for dessert…NC Goat Cheese Cake/Virginia Raspberries, Port Wine, Black Sesame Seed

dessert

Spanish wine chocolate

Txakoli Mokoroa Cosecha 2015

 

At home later, we continued the Spanish theme through the weekend…  Hondarrabi Zuri  is by far the dominant white grape variety of Spain’s Basque Country, making the region’s slightly spritzy Txacoli wines. These are crisp, light citrus-tinged wines, meant to be enjoyed while young and fresh, with a tiny bit of carbonation.  I’ve heard that in order to really appreciate this wine, it needs to be poured from a certain height into a flat bottom glass It needs air to express itself.  A delicious accompaniment to seafood, fish and poultry.  $15 range.

 

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LLOPART LEOPARDI GRVA BRUT NATURE

A very special Cava in a decorative box, perfect for a gift for a friend…or yourself! Delicate bubbles dancing in the glass. Dry with elegant spicy notes and a creamy mousse.  $25 range.

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Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad

My favorite Cava!  With the pewter base and family crest on the bottle…so pretty in a gift basket.  And now I’ve made the connection…the producer, Segura Viudas, is part of the Freixenet family of wines that includes Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma which is one of my favorite California sparkling wines.  The non-vintage Reserva Heredad is the label’s top offering, made only from 67% Macabeo and 33% Parellada grapes.  Aromas of smoke and honey and flavors of apples, dried fruit, and nuts. Creamy and crisp, it finishes clean and bright. Perfect pairing with almonds and walnuts to begin the meal. $30 range.  http://www.seguraviudas.es/en/producte_en/reserva-heredad

tomato

My first tomato this year….thank you Gwen and Mike!

Friday

living in a bubble

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s Ferry Clam Linquini, virginiabloggersover-the-moon-link-party-600x600fiesta-friday-2016

 

Sunshine In A Flute! Enjoy This Mimosa Bar Guide From Shari’s Berries!

Happy Mimosa Season!

Champagne is always a great idea. But, sometimes you need it for an extra special day, whether it be a bridal shower, birthday, Easter gathering or even just a get-together with the girls. Cue the mimosa bar!

If you want to know how to get one started, check out this guide from Shari’s Berries. It has everything you need to know about a mimosa bar — essential ingredients needed,  unique recipes, set-up tips and a super easy backdrop idea, perfect for any occasion.

This classic cocktail dates back to the early 1920’s when a drink called “Buck’s Fizz”  (two parts champagne to one part orange juice) was invented at the Buck’s Club in London.   Later in 1925, a bartender at the Ritz Hotel in Paris named Frank Meier invented the classic half champagne half orange juice Mimosa that we’ve grown to love.
Looking forward to lots of occasions to serve Shari’s Berries sparkly sugar-shimmered champagne berries this Spring!  Perfect with strawberry mimosas!
In-season fresh strawberries from the local farmer’s market make the perfect Strawberry Mimosa!  Simply puree fresh strawberries (about 5 fresh berries per mimosa), add 1/2 teaspoon simple syrup (make your own syrup or several bottled versions are readily available at the supermarket), stir well.  Pour the strawberry puree mixture into a champagne flute, slowly add champagne or sparkling wine (Cava and Prosecco are delicious too!) to fill the flute. Garnish with a fresh strawberry and a small sprig of fresh rosemary.
Fresh rosemary complements many the flavor of many fresh fruits.  I consider rosemary to be a very special garnish because my mother, an avid herb gardener always said “Rosemary for remembrance” . The rosemary in my garden makes me smile thinking about my mom.
Champagne is an excellent choice when making mimosas, but if you are having an informal gathering or serving a large crowd you may want to find a less expensive alternative. I’ve listed some bubbly alternatives here:
Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut is a Spanish Cava.  Crisp and dry with fine consistent bubbles which make a very happy mimosa!  $9 range.
 Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut. This is my “go to” sparkling wine that is always in my refrigerator. Nice and bubbly, fresh with a bit of fruitiness that complements the fruit juice in the mimosas. $26 range.
If you prefer a sparkling wine that is a little more fruit forward  MASfi Cava is delightful…100% Trepat grapes.  Bright and clean. Cherry and strawberry are the predominant flavors in this Cava.  Lively pink color. $12 range.
Cheers!
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Happiness Is A Weekend Of Bubbles…Wine Flies When You’re Having Fun!

Kitchen Remodel Update:  We added a new window to the back wall of our kitchen. When we looked out the new window we were delighted to find 4 little blue Robin’s eggs tucked into a nest in the Rhododendron tree.  Fortunately Mama Robin has not been disturbed by the construction.

Happy Weekend!

One of the nicest things about remodeling our kitchen is the way our family and friends have been taking care of us…treating us to dinner in their homes or taking us out to dinner.  So thoughtful!

Our fun weekend began on Thursday evening when our bubbly friends welcomed us to their beautiful apartment overlooking downtown Roanoke with glasses of  Mumm Napa Cuvée with a fresh raspberry in the bottom of each flute.  The Cuvée was a very pleasant bubbly surprise with aromas and flavors of toast, pear, apple and citrus.  Rich body, smooth with a creamy mousse.  $26 range.

Our bubbly friend made the most wonderful cheese crackers served with fig jam.  I can’t wait to make these when my kitchen is back up and running, but until then here’s a couple of links to Ina Garten’s cheese crackers recipes ~ delicious!

http://www.food.com/recipe/barefoot-contessas-parmesan-black-pepper-crackers-ina-garten-215143

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/blue-cheese-and-walnut-crackers-recipe/

On Saturday evening we enjoyed this lovely pink bottle of Broadbent Vinho Verde Rosé that looked so pretty on my bubbly friend’s tablescape. $10 range. Vibrant aromas and flavors of fresh strawberry, pomegranate and orange zest with a little spritz of effervescence. We enjoyed every sip.

So excited that the Grandin Road Farmer’s Market is now open on Saturday mornings!  These baby turnips were a fabulous find…eat them whole (with butter and sea salt to dip them in if you prefer…just like radishes) or slice them to add to salads. Delicious and a little more sweet than radishes.

Edible Flowers!

Finished the weekend with MASfi Cava…100% Trepat grapes.  Bright and clean. Cherry and strawberry are the the predominant flavors in this Cava.  Lively pink color. $12 range.  And since it is “Mimosa Season”, this cava made a nice strawberry mimosa!  I will have some yummy seasonal mimosa ideas in my next blog post…stay tuned!

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¡Cava! Me Encanta El Vino Español

Last week I enjoyed a Spanish wine tasting at our local wine shop:  Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar.  https://www.facebook.com/mrbillswinecellar/

Spanish Wines ~ Lots to Love!

 I found a new favorite and renewed acquaintances with a couple of old favorites.

Senda Verde Albariño

My new favorite:  Senda Verde Albariño. This bright freshness of this wine reminds me of another of my favorite wines:  the Vinho Verde wines from Portugal.

Notes from Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar: Senda Verde is a collection of artisanal wines from unique regions in northern Spain that follow the 43° N parallel, stretching from coastal Galicia eastward along the northern coastline.  In contrast to the rest of Spain, this area is lush and green from oceanic and geologic influences.  The region is referred to as “España Verde” (Green Spain). The grapes are sourced from the vineyards situated in the Salnés Valley and the ORosal area, within the D.O. Rias Baixas appellation. Vines are arranged in the “emparrado” and “trellis” systems. Bright and aromatically complex, notes of ripe apricot, apple and wild flowers. Fresh and crisp with persistent lush textures on the palate. The finish is fruity and with mineral nuances.  Aged on the lees for 4 months. $13 – $15 range.

Here’s a couple of links about Spanish wines and more specifically Albariño:

https://www.facebook.com/WinesfromSpain/

http://www.foodswinesfromspain.com/spanishfoodwine/global/products-recipes/products/more-about-products/do-rias-baixas-where-small-plots-rule.html

Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad

My favorite Cava!  With the pewter base and family crest on the bottle…so pretty in a gift basket.  And now I’ve made the connection…the producer, Segura Viudas, is part of the Freixenet family of wines that includes Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma which is one of my favorite California sparkling wines.  The non-vintage Reserva Heredad is the label’s top offering, made only from 67% Macabeo and 33% Parellada grapes.  Aromas of smoke and honey and flavors of apples, dried fruit, and nuts. Creamy and crisp, it finishes clean and bright. Perfect pairing with almonds and walnuts to begin the meal. $30 range.

Juvé y Camps Pinot Noir Cava

100% pinot noir, this pretty pink sparkler has notes of strawberry, warm bread and rose petals.  Very fruit forward and a bit too much minerality  for my taste, but I’ve  heard great reviews about it from others who drink a lot of Cava.  Fine bubbles and a long, creamy finish.  $17 range

2014 Vega Sindoa ~ El Chaparral (Old Vines)

This was my favorite red in the tasting because it had notes of raspberry at the beginning that remind my of Pinot Noir.

Notes from Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar:  Although the Valley of Valdizarbe has always been considered one of the best areas of production in Navarra and viticulture there is centuries-old, it almost disappeared due to the depressed prices of grapes and extreme weather conditions. This winery is one of the first to bring the vineyards back to the valley by the hands of an energetic winemaker, Concha Vecino.  This is a wine made from old vine Garnacha, between 70 & 100+ years old, from 40 parcels on the hills that surround Añorbe.  Floral qualities add complexity to the nose and fade into the red berry aromas, which continue on the palate. The wine has terrific body, good acidity and underlying, earthy minerality. Aged in French oak for nine months.  ~ 91 points Robert Parker  $16 – $20 range.

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Champagne and Cava Recommendations To Make Your Holidays Sparkle!

christmas-tree

roanoke-valley-wine

Across the nation wine distributors are sharing their best and bubbliest with restaurateurs and fine food and beverage retailers in preparation for the winter holidays and New Year’s Eve.  Today I had the pleasure of being a guest at the Roanoke Valley Wine Company’s (Salem, Virginia: http://www.rvwc.com) champagne and cava tasting. I am looking forward to purchasing these bubbly sparklies  at Tinnell’s Finer Foods in Roanoke, Virginia (http://tinnells.com):

cava

Clásicos del Mediterraneo, Los Monteros Cava Brut (NV) was a favorite cava with the tasters today.  Made according to the traditional method resulting in tiny consistent bubbles in the glass. Lemony notes. 100% Macabeo grapes. Delicious and affordable at $20 or less a bottle.

I found this pairing suggestion from Red’s Table four course tasting menu (Restaurant in Reston, Virignia: http://redstableva.com) and it sounded perfectly delicious. “Pearls before Swine” White Stone oysters on the half shell tapioca pearl mignonette, shaved prosciutto served with Clásicos del Mediterraneo, Los Monteros Cava.  The lemony notes of the cava would be perfect with the oysters and the saltiness of the prosciutto would give the pairing a perfect finish. Yum!

roseRose kind of day

Another Cava favorite was the Prelada Brut Rosé Cava (NV) from the Catalonia region in Spain. Garnatxa (74%), Pinot Noir (18%), Trepat (8%) made according to the traditional method. Pretty pale cherry red color.  Bubbles dissipate quickly.  Light with a quick finish. Another affordable cava at $20 or less.

I would serve the Prelada Brut Rosé Cava as a “toasting bubbly” during the holidays to say cheers to my guests. The Clásicos del Mediterraneo, Los Monteros Cava Brut would be my choice as a sipping bubbly or to pair with food.

LOVED every champagne they served to us during the tasting.  All of the champagnes we tasted were “Grower Champagnes” meaning that the champagne house grows all of their own grapes and does not purchase anyone else’s fruit.  They grow their own grapes and make the champagne ~ truly artisan wines . One of my favorites is currently available at Tinnell’s Finer Foods:

voiron-champagne

Champagne Voirin-Jumel, Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs (NV)

I found this champagne to be delightful.  100% Grand Cru Chardonnay grapes.   Voirin-Jumel is a tiny producer located in Cramant, one of finest areas for growing Chardonnay in France.  Bright and elegant. $42 range. This bubbly will make a nice pairing with caviar, oysters or white truffle popcorn and a nice gift for the holidays.

Champagne Chapuy Brut Reserve (NV)

A fabulous selection for our tasting.  100% Grand Cru Chardonnay grapes. Fresh with a fine mousse and a bit of lemon on the finish. This champagne would pair nicely with coquilles Saint-Jacques.  My notes I wrote in my notebook about this champagne said simply,  “Love this!”

champagne-roanoke

 André Clouet Champagne Brut Bouzy Grande Reserve Brut (NV)

Just look at this beautiful label!!! This bubbly will make a fabulous holiday gift! 100% pinot noir grapes.  The wine spends 6 years on the lees giving it a rich mouth feel with notes of brioche and a creamy mousse.

From The Champagne Guide 2014-2015 by Tyson Stelzer (page 25): Lees are defined as sediment that settles in the bottom of a tank, barrel or bottle, comprised primarily of dead yeast cells. Acidity is the key to champagne, but its astringency makes these wines unapproachable in their youth. The mellowing, softening effect of age is crucial to the champagne style.  Dead yeast cells (‘lees’) from the second fermentation remain in the bottle and contribute subtly to  champagne’s complexity. The longer this process of “autolysis” persists the better, improving mouthfeel and longevity, and adding biscuity, bready nuances to the flavour profile.

The mandatory minimum in champagne is 15 months for non-vintage and three years for vintage wines, but reputable producers always far exceed these minima…prestige cuvées sometimes 10 years or more.

champagne-andre

champagne-gatinois

Gatinois Champagne Brut (NV)

90% pinot noir and 10% chardonnay.  This wine spends at least 3 years on the lees. Apple and cherry followed by lemon notes. Our host suggested pouring some of this champagne in a decanter and allow the fizz to die down somewhat, then serve in a pinot noir glass (like the red pinot noir wine) paired with pork or a filet.  Sounds like a fun pairing to try!

champagne-arnould

Champagne Michel-Arnould Champagne Grand Brut (NV)

70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay. Complex yet balanced with notes of ripe apple, apricot and a touch of cherry. Any grapes this producer does not use he sells to the Bollinger champagne house…one of my favorites.

“Which champagne do you like the best?”, I casually asked our host and his reply…

I love them all, just like my children.”

Here’s a link to an interesting article about why WE SHOULD NOT WAIT TO CELEBRATE! This article includes information about grower champagnes:

http://www.mnn.com/food/beverages/blogs/every-day-good-day-champagne

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Happy Holidays! Cheers!

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