Monday, March 26, 2018

A Food and Champagne Pairing with Veuve Clicquot

It was a cloudy and cold day in Calgary when six wine writers gathered at the Yellow Door Bistro to pair some of Veuve Clicquot's most food-friendly champagnes with gastronomic lunch delights. The dreary weather outside did not affect the air of excitement at our table as we were joined by Veuve's passionate, vibrant winemaker, Bertrand Varoquier.


Born and raised in Reims, Bertrand was naturally drawn to Champagne. He graduated with a degree in Oenology at the Universite Reims Champagne Ardenne in 2002 and has since worked as a winemaker in the Loire Valley, Chablis (Burgundy), as well as two other Champagne houses. He started at Veuve Clicquot in 2013, with a focus on red wine vinification. Stout beers like Guinness are his drink of choice when he is not drinking wine, and he travels 6-8 weeks out of the year to share both is passion as well as the spirit of the house all over the world! To learn more about Veuve Clicquot's history and vinification methods, click here.


First Course: Pork Hock & Apricot Press, with Veuve Clicquot Extra Old Extra Brut


A creamy, rich mouthfeel is what sets the Extra Old Extra Brut champagne apart from the others in Veuve Clicquot's line. Prominent notes of toasted brioche, toasted almonds and a hint of lemon zest make this champagne extremely food-friendly. The succulent acidity married really well with the richness of the pork hock and the apricot press enhanced the subtle fruit flavours in the champagne nicely. This was easily my favourite pairing of the luncheon, and I can't wait to try out some different food pairings with the Extra Old Extra Brut in the future!

Second Course: Poached B.C. Sablefish, West Coast Oyster Veloute with VC Vintage Brut 2008


The 2008 harvest was considered one of the best growing seasons for the "delicate diva" grape, Pinot Noir, creating Veuve Cliquot's 65th vintage champagne in house history. A blend of 61% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Meunier brings forth a delicate palate of green apple, lemon zest, almonds mid-palate and just a hint of the yeasty flavours the house is known for. This vintage is best paired with delicately-flavoured foods such as scallops, whitefish and crab. Unfortunately, this pairing was my least favourite of the luncheon. The veloute sauce was very heavy, and drowned out the delicate body and flavours of the champagne. I ended up saving my glass for after the main course so I could truly appreciate the beautiful flavour profile on its own.

Third Course: Whipped Almond Panna Cotta, Rhubarb Ravioli with Veuve Clicquot Rich


Veuve Clicqot has a new, cocktail-style champagne that they crafted last year in 2017. The focus of Rich (pronounced "REEsh") is to enjoy a more fresh, lighter style of champagne. The best way to enjoy Rich is to serve over ice, infused with mixology-style garnishes such as pineapple, ginger, and bell pepper. Rich is ideal for hot summer days, patio parties, and would be a great accompaniment for a romantic picnic lunch! This gem paired wonderfully with the dessert, with the stone fruit notes complementing the strawberry and rhubarb flavours. The acidity of the champagne played nicely with the rich flavours of the dish, and cleansed the palate perfectly. I left the luncheon well satisfied, with the lingering tastes and memories burned into my memory! Click here to learn more about Veuve Clicquot Rich.

Luncheons like these also bring together a network of like-minded people, and I was pleased to connect with fellow wine writers Peter Vetsch, and Raymond Lamontagne. Peter's blog is titled Pop & Pour, click here to read his well-written tasting notes, as well as the other local wine events he has attended.

Special thanks to Jordan Cameron at Moet-Hennessy, Christy and all the staff at Hotel Arts/Yellow Door Bistro, and especially to Bertrand Varoquier of Veuve Clicquot for bringing some much needed sunshine into my life during this long, cold winter!

Cheers everyone!

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