Champagne for the Holidays
As the holiday season comes about, many of us turn our celebratory drinking thoughts towards Champagne. Great Champagne is a culinary treasure, and we use it often to commemorate special events. Sometimes Champagne makes the occasion rather than marks it.
Champagne is also a great wine to have with food, as its firm, bracing acidity is perfect when combined with rich cuisine.
Most people miss out on the true joys of Champagne because they consume it too quickly and while it’s too cold. Champagne should breathe for 15-30 minutes. It should be served at cellar temperature, 57 degrees, versus the less than 40 degrees as it comes out of the refrigerator.
You will be amazed at how much more expressive and flavorful the wine is when served correctly.
Many of the fine vintage Champagnes are already aged at the winery for seven years or more before going to market. In your cellar, they will become increasingly complex for another decade or two. The bubbles become even more delicate and fine, and the flavor profile is much more enhanced.
The major Champagne producers have a “house style,” which is important and helpful when determining which producers are best suited to your tastes. All of the well-known Champagne producers make a blend that has distinctive characteristics, and craft their product carefully each year to reflect their history.
Major Champagne Producers and Their “House Style”
Bollinger: Very flavorful, rich, toasty, creamy. Grand Annee, R.D. & Vieilles Vignes Francaises
Krug: Very complex, mineral, roasted nuts. Clos Mesnil (plus 4 others, which are rare)
Moet & Chandon: Well-defined, sophisticated, flowers. Dom Pérignon & Dom Pérignon Rosé
Nicolas Feuillate: Full-bodied, clean, expressive fruit. Palmes d’Or (Brut and Rosé)
Perrier Jouet: Delicate, citrus, pear, complex. Belle Époque (Flower Bottle)
Pol Roger: Floral, herbs, oak, peach, creamy. Winston Churchill
Roederer: Extracted fruit, pollen, toast, buttery. Cristal
Taittinger: Well-structured, white flower, honey, elegant. Comtes de Champagne
Veuve Cliqout: Balanced, floral, mineral, pear and apple fruit. La Grande Dame
The annual “Grande Champagne” tasting held at The WineSellar & Brasserie on November 14 gives Champagne enthusiasts the chance to try many of these great bottles side by side. (www.winesellar.com) GARY PARKER, OWNER, THE WINESELLAR & BRASSERIE