Champagne Uncorked: 2006 Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque
"Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk of them, and Champagne makes you do them." ~ Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
A few years ago, I received an invitation to attend a 'gala' where I could sample the 2006 Perrier-Jouet BelleEpoque, at a swanky NYC location, to hobnob with like-minded wine writers and nibble on delightful one-of-a-kind foods prepared by a super-star chef. Unfortunately, [sigh] the event was in NYC, I lived in San Diego, and while great with the sunshine quotient it has very few events like the one I had a hot-little-invite in my hand. I thought "Ugh, I live nowhere near NYC, so I'll have to miss another great tasting opportunity" but not all was lost.
"An unusual bottle designed in 1902 by Emile Gallé, one of the most famous designers of the Art Nouveau movement."
An enterprising young PR professional came to my aide, she offered to find me a bottle at the event and then have it sent to me [a sample] once I returned from my trip. I was ecstatic, to say the least, her enthusiasm only heightened the anticipation of seeing that bottle land on my doorstep in my former hometown of San Diego.
When Mrs. Cuvée and I sat down to enjoy this fantastic Champagne the other night, I was sure we were in for a treat, and the Belle Epoque did not disappoint. Like the beautiful flowers painted on the outside of the bottle, my first thought, "wow," this truly is bottled poetry." I was wowed from the first splash to the very last drop which somehow found its way to my glass [ha].
In the glass a beautiful golden glow and after the first splash down my palate is greeted nicely with delicate spices and round white fruit, this wine has all the good parts of apple pie with just a faint hint of the sweet. This Champagne which is racy enough to pair with the sushi we made at home, it had plenty stuffing to stand all its own and still wow you. A brilliant clean, dry and exquisitely-balanced Champagne that's well worth the price admission. I scored the Belle Epoque 2006 94 points, it sells for $150 most places.
Many folks often wonder, "Champagne, isn't that just for weddings and celebrations and such?". While it's great for celebrations, honestly that is only the beginning. It's a very versatile style of wine, which requires no special tools to open it.
"The wines are selected one by one, in a precise and harmonious blend, carefully preserving the nuances of each. The Belle Epoque reflects the multitude of aromas with elegance and delicateness."
Some folks may think, "hmm okay even if I buy Champagne, what will I foods pair with it?" A good question to which I and most other vino-sapiens would counter that question with a question "seriously, what doesn't pair with champagne?". So many things "go" or pairs so well with Champagne that it's often hard for me to decide which direction to go in. I finally did make a decision, and here is what I chose to pair with the Belle Epoque, Broiled Sushi, something mainlanders may not appreciate, but hang on folks, this is a go-to dish for 'locals' in Hawaii,
I prepare it with a full pound of freshly caught crab meat, a bed of Japanese sticky [2 cups] rice, sprinkled with Nori Komi furikake [1 bottle] and mixed with a unique spicy blend of ingredients. Then once it comes out from under the broiler, I let it cool just a bit while I open a package of roasted season seaweed wraps, which are quite tasty to eat on their own.
While Champagne is high on my list of wines I really enjoy, I'll admit I don't drink as much as I'd like to. I believe this something I need to change. I've found that Champagne makes for the ultimate go-to pairing choice. Especially when knee-deep in what is sure to be the various snack pairing action you may be likely to encounter tailgating with friends during football season. If anyone asks why you're drinking Champagne, merely remind them of the now famous Napoleonic quote below.'I could not live without Champagne - in victory I deserve it, in defeat I need ... 'The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward." ~ NB
While a warm baguette and a slab of freshly melted brie is a familiar, tasty and straightforward pairing partner for an impromptu snack to have with Champagne and you’ll find it also pairs amazingly well with the average tailgate fare. Looking for the right wine to go with the sometimes tricky veggie pairings, like asparagus? I've found Champagne pairs ever so nicely, and as a bonus, it’s super easy dish to prepare. I typically splash a wee-bit of EVOO, salt, and pepper then pop them on a heated barbecue grill for 8 minutes until just brown, done.
How about as a dessert wine? Champagne and Fresh Fruit tarts are another great options, to match with the light, flaky crust and Bavarian cream fillings [been there and done that, and wow!]. If brunch is your thing; it's my latest craze pair with eggs Benedict or perhaps eggs Florentine on a Sunday afternoon [holy Mimosas Batman!]. The kind of pairing which reminds me of a song which Etta James sings so beautifully, “I want a “Sunday kind of love.”
Even French cuisine, which I experienced plenty not long ago, (insert bragging here) might seem complicated, but in reality, it is not. French chefs and locals alike, simply use local, fresh, seasonal ingredients, many in the purest forms to create some fantastic dishes, taking the experience from mundane to marvelous all in one fell swoop. And when you pair with an excellent vintage or even non-vintage Champagne you have created a meal which can be as elegant as any four-star restaurant experience, absent the white linen tablecloths and fawning waiters.
What you do bring to the table after uncorking a bottle of Champagne, to me it's a celebration of life and all that goes with it. Until next time folks remember to sip long and prosper cheers!