Tag Archives: Champagne

So it goes… This week's decent drinking

Sibella is out to dinner with her golfing chums. Which is why I’m tucking into bacon ribs, cannellini beans (no butter beans down the local deli) and Savoy cabbage, the sort of fare I always find for myself when milady is absent as she’s far too ‘refeened’ to partake of that good ole peasanty grub. That or it reminds her of school!

Anyhow, to accompany same I hauled up a bottle of D’Arenberg ‘The Custodian’ Grenache, 2002. This was one I mislaid from a limited edition trio produced by Chester – same grapes,  different soils – I reviewed them in F&W some years ago. This particular wine was fettled from grapes grown on ‘sand on clay’ soil – I remember at the time that it was by far the most tannic of the three. Now the tannins had resolved nicely, pointing up the dark sweet fruit that came through in abundance. The influence of oak was not particularly overt (2nd and 3rd fill American and French barrels were used) though some vanilla and spice came through.

All in all, pretty impressive and aging gracefully.

Otherwise than that it was Dom Perignon week, starting with a tasting at the Abbey of  Hautvillers where the good monk perfected the techniques that turned Champagne into a world beater. I liked the 2000 very much, totally different in character to the rich, rumbustious 1995 that gave up its charms to the accompaniment of a fanfare of trumpets. The 2000 was fragrant, delicate, almost an ‘I can’t believe it’s…’ sort of wine with less of a family resemblance than the others in the tasting. In Proustian terms this was the beautiful sister, home for the holidays, sat quiet but serene amid the big, noisy huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ siblings.

The event culminated with a night on the 1976 in Louis XIV’s dining room at Versailles (about which, more anon). This wine impressed with its freshness – still light in colour and spicy and zesty on the nose. A more substantial body than I remembered from that vintage too. What a good food wine  – although I would have killed for a Cornas or a Cote Rotie with the pheasant and hare dishes half way through the 20-courser. Where’s Simon Tyrell when you need him?

No more Sham Champagne?

The CIVC (the Champagne producers’ regulatory body) and other European wine and food trade organisations are engaged in complex and delicate negotiations with US producers to work out how best to protect the use of European semi-generic brand names such as Champagne, Chablis, Sherry, Chianti, Bordeaux, Cheddar, Stilton and many others.
Apparently there’s twice as much fake “champagne” sold in the states as real Champagne. American producers complain of the same thing happening in Europe, with names such as Bourbon used to promote imitation American whiskies.
But there’s clearly no such thing as a free Champagne.
In return the US wants European producers to recognise American winemaking practices such as the use of additives permitted in the US but not in Europe.

Meanwhile, as the relationship between French premier Jacques Chirac and president Bush is reaching unprecedented lows the US Congressional canteen is doing its best to pour oil on troubled flames. It’s now serving “Freedom” fries and “Freedom” toast – replacing the word “French”.

I’m with Les Grenouilles – I’m going home tonight to cook Lobster Oil Baron Naked Aggressor.

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