Posts Tagged ‘champagne’

Navigating Champagne … a Festive Tasting in Paris!



By Katherine Parker

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The weekend before New Years’ I found myself tasting Champagnes in a Paris apartment with a friendly group of wine aficionados. The tasting was put together by Camilla Macfarlane, cheap viagra canada a California expat living in Paris, with a background in the wine industry. Camilla put together a wonderful lineup of Champagnes in the holiday spirit, with generous hors d’oeuvres by Kent Keatinge to highlight the wines.

Six Champagnes – all Brut style from esteemed houses – were on the menu. Brut is a medium-dry Champagne and the most popular style sold today. You may find an Extra Dry (slightly more sugar) or an Extra Brut (slightly less) but most of what you see on the market is Brut.  Four of the six were from the region of Reims in France.

Champagne Tasting in Paris

Champagne Tasting in Paris

The first two were contrasting varietals: A Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut NV made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, and a Philipponnat Brut Grand Blanc made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. I found the Laurent Perrier the most aromatic of all wines poured, with a distinct nose of fresh wild strawberry-raspberry and an appetizing peach color.  Little cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches went well with these small bubbles. The wine comes in a plump dark bottle – the green glass indicating the “black” pinot grapes. The curvy shape and pink collar clearly brand this as a feminine wine.

Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé Blanc

Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé Blanc

Also, the Laurent Perrier is a Cuvée – a blend of grapes from 10 different villages, all in the Reims region known for Champagne. The wine is

aged for at least 4 years and is 12% alcohol – another thing I enjoy about Champagne.

The Philipponnat comes in a white bottle to indicate the all-white Chardonnay grapes. A small pastry appetizer topped with tiny shrimps was perfect with this creamy, smooth Blanc de Blanc-style wine.

Magnums of Champagne

Magnums of Champagne

Next Camilla brought out 2 magnums, each a Brut NV blend of all 3 grapes used in classic Champagne: Veuve Clicquot with at least 50% Pinot Noir, 28% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Meunier grapes, and Taittinger with 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The Taittinger captivated me with crispness and structure based on balanced acidity.  That this

wine is a blend of grapes from 35 different “crus” or villages, attests to the winemaking skill of the family-owned Taittinger house.

Drinking from a magnum offers a higher quality wine, because there is less oxygen in the bottle relative to the surface area of the wine. This is also said to favor the creation of small bubbles, which enhance the tactile experience of drinking Champagne.

About this time, we moved on to an appetizer of fish breaded into lollipops, with an apricot-mustard sauce. Whether it was the magnums or the fabulous food and conversation that made the evening so agreeable is hard to say. I think by this time we were all having a great time.

Comparison tasting

Comparison tasting

The near-final Champagne was a Ruinart Brut from the same blend of grapes as the Taittinger but made to be even more crisp, acidic and refreshing. The Ruinart undergoes full malolactic fermentation, which is not noted for the Taittinger. Our group thought this might account for the difference between the two wines.

The Grand Finalé was a vintage Dom Perignon 2003 Champagne. I enjoyed the minerality and structure of this taste. The bubbles were the most perfect of the evening – a fountain of tiny bubbles pulsing up from the center of the flute. Paired with beef chili on mini wheat tortilla squares – Mexican with Champagne goes great!

This event was a great opportunity to compare and contrast. I favored the tastes and textures of Ruinart and Taittinger.  At the end of the day between the two, it would probably be decided on price.  If price were no object, I would go with the Ruinart.

If you are living in Paris, or even if you are visiting like I was, check Camilla’s Paris Wine Meetup Group for tasting dates.

Related Articles:

Tasting Notes: Paul Bara Champagne Grand Cru Brut Grand Rosé

Simple Hedonisms Sparkling Wine Highlights – Part 1: Imports


Tasting Notes: Paul Bara Champagne Grand Cru Brut Grand Rosé

It’s that time of year – sparking wine & champagne flows (more) freely.

My love affair with Champagne

(true Champagne, sparkling wine from the region) is growing, much to the detriment of my wallet.

This sparkler is now one of my favorite Champagnes, an exciting blend of texture & acidity, with the broad(er) flavor profile of buy cialis without prescription a Rosé.

I confess sparkling Rosé is my favorite – as much as my palate is acid driven, Blanc de Blanc is sometimes a bit too  much for me, and I lean toward the red fruit of Rosé.

Tasting Notes: Paul Bara Champagne Grand Cru Brut Grand Rosé

To The Eye: The color immediately draws the eyes: a bright salmon orange. An incredible stream of tiny bubbles, make it gorgeous to behold.

On The Nose: expressive: blood orange, cream, seashells, strawberry.

In The Mouth:  The palate is a delight. The front palate is bright strawberry, citrus/orange, the mid palate has great minerality and texture, the finish is red fruits, red apple, and pleasant lingering mouthwatering acidity.

This sparkling wine is stunning in every way. Worth a splurge for the holidays for sure. Or hell, I could drink

this every Friday.

A blend of 80% Pinot Noir & 20% Chardonnay. Imported by Kermit Lynch.
Available in their Berkeley store. Not too pricey for a Grand Cru at $60

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Tomorrow is Global Champagne Day! How to Join In and Celebrate #ChampagneDay

In case you missed it, tomorrow is Global #ChampagneDay!!  (Note this is champagne, which is specifically limited to sparkling wine from the Champagne regio

n of France. Even Cremant, sparkling wine from other regions of France, is not Champagne.  So please leave that bottle of Gloria Ferrer or Barefoot for #SparklingDay.

There are many events happening around the world from the heart of the Champagne region to Japan to Australia to South America and of course, in the USA.  You can locate an event near you by visiting this interactive Google map

Live Video Broadcast & Entertainment

There is also a live video tasting  for #ChampagneDay on

with some great guests, including Catherin Fallis, Master Sommelier and Master Sabreuse at Sabering Champagne, who will be showing us the correct way to saber a Champagne bottle and talking all things Champagne. Also joining will be some well-known producers and smaller grower/producers, Champagne importers, bloggers, etc. There will also be a mixologist on deck to talk about the perfect Champagne cocktails.

Simple Hedonisms will be onsite for this tasting and broadcast – be sure to join us from 3pm to 7pm PST for this livestreaming event via and tweet us your question by using the #ChampagneDay hashtag.

How you can join in the bubbles (no saber necessary):

  1. Pick out a Champagne to enjoy on #ChampagneDay.
  2. Whether you're at home, out at a restaurant or tuned in to our live show(, you can post your memories online for others to see.
  3. Share your label photos, tastes, likes, food pairings or any other experiences on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. making sure to include #ChampagneDay in your post.
  4. Host your own event or home tasting
  5. Visit between 3pm -7pm PST to watch and join in live.

Take Photos & Enter to Win & iPad!

To Enter the Champagne Day contest to win an iPad click here: Champagne Day photo contest 

Be Like Nike – Just Do It!

So head to your local wine shop tonight, and pick out something for tomorrow! What better way to kick of Friday night & your weekend.

Get your buy viagra without prescription Champagne wines locally at your favorite wine shop via or just dropping in.

See you online tomorrow Friday, October 26th!



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Simple Hedonisms Sparkling Wine Highlights – Part 2: Domestic

Time to bring it back home and share thoughts on some of the many great sparkling wines made in California.

There were also some unusual finds here that were very

buy generic viagra online″ alt=”” width=”189″ height=”199″ />fun to taste. Below are the best buy cheap viagra of my many nights of tasting: some wines purchased, some media samples. All enjoyed.

Sparkling Wine – Under $35

2009 Windsor Vineyards Blanc de Noir $25 *Top Pick*

A pretty sparkling from Windsor Vineyards. Light pink, salmon color. Nose of strawberry, hint of cherry. Good red fruit, creamy in mouth, with an easy finish. Easy quaffing.A great aperitif. A great sparkling for the price. Their Brut is also very enjoyable, bright acid, green apple.


Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee 2007 $32 *Top Pick*

An incredible Blanc de Noir, made from 88% Pinot Noir, 12% Chardonnay. Essence of strawberries, creamy rich mouthfeel. Iron Horse consistently makes some of the best sparkling wines in Russian River Valley, and this carries the torch well.


Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Non Vintage $20

My house bubbles. Widely available, often a discount, regularly an award winner. A consistent winner that delivers: green apple, bread yeast, citrus. Yum.


J. Keverson ‘Bubbles for Boobies’ Brut, Non Vintage $20

Whats not to like about sparkling wine that is for boobies. Dark yellow straw color, pear, lemon. Crisp in mouth. Begs for some oysters.

50% of the proceeds from the sale of Bubbles for Boobies Brut is donated to fight breast cancer. 60% Chardonnay from Mendocino, 40% Pinot Noir form Carneros. Drink some bubbles, help a worthy cause.


Sparkling Wine – The Unusual

While most domestic sparkling is made from Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, we do find the occasional deviation. These require an open mind, and can be fun.


Amista Vineyards Syrah Rose’ (Non Vintage)

I had this the very first year it was released, and just recently tasted the new vintage, which is now lower in alcohol and color. (A plus.) It’s a fun wine, made from Syrah rose’, not that dark purple sweet sparkling shiraz the Aussies make. The new vintage has a nice red fruit, cherry and strawberry.


Harvest Moon Sparkling Gewürztraminer Dry Sparkling $38 *Top Pick*

Randy is a master of working with wines of great acidity, and he takes the difficult task of making a Gewurtz in a sparkling in stride. This is a unique bottle of bubbles is fun. A floral nose as expected, tiny bubbles, citrus and stone fruit. This wine always sells out, grab a bottle if you can.


Harvest Moon Sparkling Zinfandel $38

Another odd duck and even more interesting and complex. Because the zin is from the cool climate Russian River, it pulls off the acidity, and the fruit, picked early as one does for sparkling has interesting notes of spice. A dark red color, reminiscent of sparkling Syrah. Fragrant nose of black cherry & raspberry. Black cherry and black fruit in the mouth with some spice. Good acidity, recommended to pair with food or an aperitif. Get adventurous and try it.


Sparkling Wine Over $35

Thomas George Estates Pinot Noir Amber Block Starr Ridge Estate 2009 $50

My first time tasting sparkling from Thomas George, and given how great their Pinot Noir (and other wines) are, I wasn’t surprised this bar was equally high.

Light salmon pink color, fresh strawberry and bread yeast on nose, strawberry and citrus in mouth, Excellent creamy mouthfeel, lingering finish.


Inman Family Wine – Endless Crush 2009 $50 *Top Pick*

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone this made the list, given it was my wine of the month a few weeks ago. See Winery of The Month, Wine of the Week: Inman Family Wines 2009 Brut Rose Nature “Endless Crush”

Just the slightest tinge of pink. Nose of strawberry, citrus and a hint of bread yeast. Bright in the mouth, great acidity combined with rich texture and mouthfeel, lingering finish and some minerality, this is a unique work of art.


Gloria Ferrer -Carneros Cuvee’ 1999 $50 *Top Pick*

The bottle you love to look at, but can’t stack many of in a cellar. A work of art, the bottle and whats in it. I have the 1999 in my cellar, current release is 2000. (Yes almost 12 years old folks.) Don’t worry the 2000 is great too, Jon Bonne recommended it last month. Elegant. Citrus, pear, creamy. If I could afford it every day, or week I would. Well worth the splurge.


On this (tired) note – we are off to France for a tour of Burgundy and the Rhone Valley. Many changes are afoot for 2012, and taking a quick research jaunt.

Have a Very Happy & Safe New Years, and thanks for reading!

Related Articles

Simple Hedonisms Sparkling Wine Highlights – Part 1: Imports



Simple Hedonisms Sparkling Wine Highlights – Part 1: Imports

Welcome to the 1st (Hopefully annual) Sparkling line up. It has been a fun, busy lineup to work through. Because of the many bottles received (and not all reviewed) & purchased I decided to divide the summary into two parts, US and Imports.

Noticeably missing from this line up is ‘champagne’ that is to say sparkling wine that orginates from the Champagne region in France. Even the French are not allowed to call it Champagne if its not buy cheap generic viagra from Champagne, instead its call Cremant.

The Champagne Bureau in France declined to send or arrange any samples, but did ask that I make it clear to readers:

“Whatever you recommend, please make sure to note that Champagne only comes from Champagne, France.”

Done. Now onto some (not so) serious business. I love bubbles, but am hardly a snob when it comes to this category. It should be fun and enjoyable.

I tried to focus on bubbles that were affordable and widely available. Its not really much fun for you the reader to hear about something that isn’t available unless you are wealthy or write for wine publication.

Spain & Cava

Spanish Cava represents a huge value in sparkling wines, and the quality and value will surprise you. This summer I toured through out Spain on a media Tour, visiting a number of Cava producers, including Cava kingpin Freixenet. I was blown away by the care and quality of this producer. Hundreds of tons of cava grapes, all hand picked, each year.


N.V. Segura Viudas Cava Brut Rosado – *Top Pick*

A crowd pleaser Cava Brut Rose’, great QPR. Tiny bubbles, excellent mousse. Essence of strawberry, raspberry. Very pleasant in mouth.Grab a bottle, you will

be glad. This is a sleeper brand. ~$10


N.V. Paul Cheneau Cava Lady of Spain

Decent bubbles for price; crisp, nice acidity, green apple $10


N.V. Freixenet Cava Cordon Negro (Brut)

After 150 years, there is a reason why the ‘Black Bottle’ remains the king of Spanish Cava. Despite the large production all grapes are hand harvested, not machine. Clear pale yellow, tiny mousse (bubbles). Nose has lemon, apple, pear. Crisp dry finish with some minerality. If you have shunned the black bottle because its what your parents drank, try it again. And do take the tour if ever nearby, its impressive. $10 (or less)


N.V. Segura Viudas Cava Brut Reserva Heredad

If the sexy bottle doesn’t get you, the bubbles should. Vibrant pale color, tight tiny bubbles, nose that is yeasty,pear. Bright citrus, green apple. A step or two up in price from traditional Cava, but unique and complex enough to merit it, and a good bridge flavor profile wise. $20


Italy – Prosecco

Prosecco has become a hot sector in the last few years, and duly earned, the quality of Prosecco coming into the US has jumped up. People avoid Prosecco because it is fermented via the charmat method – meaning it achieves its bubbles in a stainless tank, not in the bottle via méthode champenoise. My experience with domestic sparkling produced this way is mostly poor, but I have learned from experience not to shun Prosecco because of this, and you should too.


N.V. Valdo (Italy) – *Top Pick*

New to the US. Nose of pear, green melon, bread yeast. Tiny bubbles. Mostly dry, creamy mouthfeel. Nice finish. An excellent value for $10. Recommended buy. Nice apertif wine easily quaffed.


N.V. LaMarca Prosecco di Treviso Prosecco (Italy, Veneto, Prosecco di Treviso)

Pale yellow, tiny bubbles. Green apple & spice on nose. Mostly dry, Nice citrus, touch of asian pear, green apple. pleasant in mouth, fair QPR. Consumer friendly bubbles, available at Wholefoods, Safeway. Worth putting in the cart and taking home.



N.V. Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé *Top Pick*

Wonderful! Pink with a slight orange hue; excellent tiny bubbles. gorgeous nose of strawberry & yeast. Strawberries & Cream, hint of raspberry. Fermented in bottle; 80% Pinot Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Blanc and 10% Chardonnay. ~$18


2007 Domaine Rolet Crémant du Jura Crémant Brut (France, Jura, Crémant du Jura)

A nice bottle of bubbles for $17 from K&L. tiny bubbles, nice citrus, tart green bubbles, nice clean, lingering.


Look for Part II – Domestic later tonight. (Tomorrow we head to France to tour Burgundy & the Rhone). Cheers!

Wine & Oysters, The Perfect Pairing (Enter to Win Tix to the Wine & Oyster Festival)

Guest post by Ed Thralls of WineTonite.

One of the coolest places, both literally and figuratively speaking, I have been since moving to wine country is Tomales Bay near Pt. Reyes, where I enjoyed the freshest oysters I have ever had.  This occurred over an entire beautiful sunny Saturday (it's often quite foggy and cold) amongst great wine and food friends like William Allen, who was gracious enough to allow me to guest post here on his blog.  This day left me with such joy and amazement, not to mention a serious sunburn, the wife and I have been on an oyster binge ever since.  Not only were the oysters themselves just fresh as can be plucked right out of the bay over our shoulders, but when paired with wine, it was truly one of the choicest life experiences to date.

Wines you should enjoy for a perfect oyster pairing include bubbles (Cava, Prosecco, Champagne, etc.), Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, Picpoul Blanc or anything that is crisp, minerally or has essence of ocean or brine.  But, nothing is stopping you from being creative and finding that perfect pairing for your palate.  On this particular day, the Muscadet brought by Nick (@fermented) and Katie stole the show and is often considered by many to be the “perfect oyster wine.”  Muscadet is from the western part of the Loire Valley in

France and are very fresh, crisp and can have a hint of brininess to them.  Personally, I prefer the bubbles.

Needless to say, my wife and I are now oyster and wine junkies and can often be found on Wednesdays or Thursdays at Hog Island Oyster Co. at the Oxbow Market in Napa.  This is why I want to let you in on this little secret, as if you already didn't know, and get an opportunity to try this perfect pairing yourselves if you're in Sonoma County in the middle of July.  The Vintage Wine Estates Tasting Room in Healdsburg is teaming up with The Oyster Girls to create some palate pleasing combinations on July 16th, 2011 from 1-5pm for only $25.  The Oyster Girls

are a traveling oyster bar that serves only local, fresh oysters from Tomales Bay.

This Price includes 6 oysters and 5 wines per person.  Full Disclosure: I work for Vintage Wine Estates and would love to have you join me in this cool culinary experience.  You can purchase tickets in advance HERE.

WIN a Pair of Complimentary Tickets

Comment here on the blog below about your most memorable wine pairing experience and we'll draw a random winner next Wednesday, July 13th at 5pm PT who will receive 2 complimentary tickets available via Will Call at the event.

Here's more information:

Vintage Wine Estates Tasting Room Presents the Wine & Oyster Festival

Join us for Oyster Fest!Join us Saturday July 16th, 2011 from 1:00p to 5:00p and enjoy intoxicating pairings of our award-winning wines with Tomales Bay oysters and luscious mignonettes. Learn the art of pairing wine and food through these palate pleasing combinations!

Check out these amazing pairings:

Pink & Sassy

Wine: 2007 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Blanc de Noirs Sea Fog Cuvee

Oyster: Golden Nugget Mignonette: Sassy Pink

Fresh Kiss

Wine: 2010 Windsor Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley

Oyster: Miyagi Mignonette: Classic Rice Wine

Purely Naked

Wine: 2010 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Laguna Vista

Oyster: Golden Nugget Mignonette: Naked

Tropical Thrill

Wine: 2009 Windsor Sonoma Chardonnay Russian River Valley

Oyster: Golden Nugget Mignonette: Mango Chutney

Sweet Finale

Wine: 2009 Windsor Vineyards Muscat Canelli

Oyster: 2 Golden Nuggets Mignonette: Naked and Mango Chutney

Complemented by baguettes and cheese, plus music by the Rooster Blues Duo

Price includes 6 oysters and 5 wines per person. Must be 21 years of age or older.
Supply will be limited, advance ticket purchase strongly recommended. Day of ticket purchase subject to availability. For questions, please call us at 707.921.2893.

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