Showing posts with label champagne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label champagne. Show all posts

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!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Bottle Journey Through the Boot...Tasting Italian Reds

January has been a whirlwind month for me. My baby girl arrived on December 29th at 5:45am!


Since then my life has been primarily focused on getting Cassie used to the world, navigating life with 2 kids, keeping the house in order, all on very little sleep. 

But thanks to the miracle of breast pumps, I've been able to start tasting wine again! My parents flew out to lend a helping hand mid-month, and my dad and I spent some time sampling Italian reds. It was a little tough for me at first-after all, I'd been out of practice for 9 months. What are all the secondary and tertiary flavours again? And descriptors for acidity, tannins and body? Thankfully, it all came back to me when I took my first post-partum sip of wine!

We started at "the heel of the boot" in Puglia, with Il Falcone's 2009 Castel del Monte DOC Riserva.



Focused tannins and angular acidity wrap around hints of plum, sour cherries and forest floor. Medium-bodied with a long, slightly jammy finish. Excellent for weeknight sipping or with mushroom pizza and pork loin.

Next, we travelled up to the Northeastern tip of Italy to taste Tedeschi's 2010 Corasco.



This beauty arouses pleasure with aromas of blueberry, cassis and mocha. Racy acidity and chocolate tannins add to the smooth body and sultry mouthfeel. A long, spicy finish will leave you wanting more! Easily one of the best wines I have ever had from the Venezie/Valpolicella region.

We finished with Paolo Conterno's 2011 Barbera d'Alba Bricco.



Notes of raspberries, red cherries and coffee grounds. Fine tannins and lively acidity create a concentrated, well-balanced body. This wine can handle spicy foods like salami and charcuterie, but is also excellent on it's own.

Finally, I started my Year of Champagne on December 31. I plan to drink various bottles of bubbly throughout the year with tasting notes showing up throughout the blog. First up was GH Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut NV Champagne.



Aromas of green apple, lemon and a hint of freshly baked buns. The mousse is creamy and slightly delicate, with invigorating acidity that arouses the tastebuds. Hints of underripe white peach and stony minerality round out the palate.

I plan to focus February on white wines from France and BC along with my Mother in Law's visit, along with another bottle of Champagne and maybe one or two more red wines.

Cheers!



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Boston Bruins Celebrate Cup Victory with Veuve Clicquot

As a hockey fan who bled white and blue blood for years, I'll never cheer for Boston, one of the Toronto Maple Leaf's eastern conference rivals. Here's another reason why: Bruins defenceman Tomas Kaberle. He was traded from the Leafs organization earlier this past season, and after doing nothing productive in Toronto for many years, he walks onto a team that wins the coveted Stanley Cup, doing little else in Bean-town besides adding a couple of assists to the team late-season and in the playoffs. It must be nice to walk onto a team and be taken along for the ride for the ultimate prize!



However, something caught my eye last night when the Bruins returned to their dressing room post-victory with the Stanley Cup: bottles and bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne on ice, ready to be sprayed around the locker room and imbibed from the top of the Stanley Cup. This photo was posted on cbslocal.com in Boston:
Despite the fact that I dislike the Bruins, I do admire their taste in celebratory Champagne. I wonder if they chose it because their famous label matches the team colours, because they wanted something high-class, or any other number of reasons? Either way, they chose well!



Congratulations to the Bruins and their fans, the harder working team did win last night! Well deserved.

Side note: In a pre-game interview with CBC, Bruins forward Mark Recchi mentioned that he's been saving a special bottle of wine to celebrate a cup victory-and he would probably drink it anyways even if they didn't win. After a brief google session, I think the bottle he was talking about is his 1970 Petrus, one of Bordeaux's finest. It also turns out he has quite the extensive cellar, totalling over 1,000 bottles! Even though there are rumours flying around about his retirement, he just became one of my favourite players-how can a wino dislike a wine afficionado, after all?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Veuve Clicquot: A Great Story of Triumph for Women

Imagine this scenario: You've been married for seven years, a young wife at 27 years of age. Suddenly, your husband passes away. You are now a widow, or "veuve" in French.

What would you do? One would obviously be devastated, and of course there would be a necessary period of mourning. Would you struggle to get out of bed on a daily basis? Would you somehow find the inner strength you need to try and move on?

Barbe Nicole Ponsardin found herself in this situation back in 1805 when her husband passed away. Fortunately, she made the choice to take over the family business. This decision ended up being such a great decision as she would bring the world one of the most prominent champagnes well recognized everywhere!

Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin's grapes are grown over 382 hectares in the vineyards surrounding Reims, France-the 2nd largest vineyard in the Champagne area. Of the total grapes they grow, 39% is Pinot Noir grapes, 46% is Chardonnay, and 15% are Pinot Meunier. Veuve Cliquot prides themselves on having a 97% vineyard rating based on the echelle des crus, a classification system for vineyard quality in Champagne. You can taste the quality in their bottles! The grapes are harvested only when the perfect balance between sugar & acidity in the grapes is reached. Harvesting is done by hand and the different grape varieties remain separated until the blending process.

Veuve Cliquot presses 2550 litres of juice from 4,000kg of grapes. The first 2,050 litres are called the cuvee and the last 500 litres are called the taille. Fermentation then takes place in stainless steel vats. Blending then takes place to maintain the house flavors and quality. The wine is bottled and sugar and yeast are added for secondary fermentation. Veuve Cliquot ages their bottles in their cellars in Reims for no less than 15 months as part of the Champagne A.O.C. regulations. The bottles are laid in riddling racks (shown below) that were actually invented by the house to make the process of disgorging (removing the sediment in secondary fermentation) easier.


The bottles are turned and tilted slightly to move the sediment to the neck of the bottle. When the aging process is complete, the sediment will be frozen and the pressure inside the bottle will literally push it out when the cap is removed. After a small amount of sweetened liquor is added to the champagne, the bottles are corked and wired and laid down on their side in the cellars to further develop flavor before being labelled and packed up for shipping.

My husband and I were fortunate enough to get the chance to visit this prestigious champagne house in mid-March. We were given the chance to see the cellars, learn their history and taste a few of the champagnes as well. We tasted the yellow label and the 2002 vintage, which I found light, lovely, and really easy to drink! Needless to say, there is a bottle of the yellow label in our house now too!
If you ever find yourself in Reims, it is well worth the visit and if you decide to spend the 75 euro on the tour, I hope you get Melissa Gaillard as your guide. She is very knowledgeable and passionate about the house and friendly. Tours must be booked in advance by calling the house or email: visitscenter@veuve-clicquot.fr

Veuve Cliquot has become one of the most recognized champagnes throughout the world. It has become so popular, in fact, that Veuve now owns the legendary color of their label. Melissa showed us on the tour false replicates of other bottles that have been found all over the world, including Mexico. When you go to their website,
www.veuve-cliquot.com, they mention a hoax promotion that is being offered for a free case of their champagne. To me, that speaks volumes of the quality and reputation that Veuve Cliquot maintains all over the world. After all, imitation is the best form of flattery, n'est-ce pas?

One of the things I love best about Veuve Cliquot (outside of the taste & quality of course!) is what they do for women. It's a tough life for a woman, working in a predominantly men's world. I experience this first-hand every day as I work with all men in the aviation industry. Veuve Cliquot hands out Businesswoman of the Year awards every year to outstanding businesswomen who embody the values of Madame Cliquot. Sixteen winners will be crowned for each of the countries that participate in the award, and the winners receive a trip to Reims to christen a vine in their own names, one each, at the International Business Woman Forum! On top of that, on their birthday every year of their life they will receive a bottle of a champagne from that vine. Amazing! Although internet rumors insist there is a jinx or curse on winning the award, I think it's great to see recognition of successful women on a worldwide scale.

Veuve Cliquot, je t'aime!
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