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13 Champagnes for lunch

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13 Champagnes for lunch

Sunday 7 September Cathy and I got together with 18 friends for lunch around the theme of Champagne, each couple had to bring something they thought could pair up with well bred bubbles, and I would then determine the food-wine pairings. 13 wines were served, many biodynamic, all top names spanning just about all the best terroirs of the appellation, including the famous Chardonnays from Cramant, Le Mesnil, Avize and the Pinot Noirs from Aÿ and Ambonnay. They were chosen by my friend Pierre Yves Cainjo, an international prize winning Champagne taster who runs an incredible wine store,  Le Cercle Champenois.

Diebolt-Vallois: Blanc de Blancs Prestige (Cramant, Côte des Blancs), 100% chardonnay 2/3 vinified in wood, with foie gras on grilled spicy shortbread with my home made eggplant jam. A wine that everyone loved, delicate and rich with good balance. ***

Vilmart & Cie: Grand Cellier d'Or 2001 (Rilly-la-Montagne, Montagne de Reims), 70% chardonnay 30% Pinot Noir vinified in wood "foudres", accompanied by two goat-cheese ravioli with my home made tomato jam. A fine delicate wine. **

Bertrand Gautherot : Blanc d'Argile (Buxeuil-sur-Arce, Côte des Bar), 100% Chardonnay, biodynamic, barrel vinified, served with wild smoked salmon from Sweden (Nils Gustaf & Christina). It is hard to match smoked salmon to wine, even harder with real smoked salmon, but everyone appreciated it with the slight oxidation of this powerful and, how can I say it, "precise" wine. ***

Bérèche & Fils : Reflet d'Antan (Le Craon de Ludes), 50% Chardonnay 50% Pinot Noir barrel vinified, served with our cold cucumber and crab soup with a julienne of granny smith apples. A fresh and delicate wine for a zingy dish. **

Pierre Moncuit : Blanc de Blancs 1996 brut (Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Côtes des Blancs), 100% chardonnay, served with prawns, Puy lentils and dal (Lucien & Annie). Super wine, iodine, persistent. ***

Benoit Lahaye : Fleur de Terroir (Bouzy, Côte des Noirs), 50% Pinot Noir 50% chardonnay, biodynamic, vinified in barrels, powerful, lively and balanced, served with provençal stuffed eggplant and pepper rolls (Lucien & Andrée). Spicy food with concentrated tastes and a powerful wine to keep it all clean and fresh. **

Champagne Raymond Boulard : Les Rachais 2002 (La Neuville aux Larris, Vallée de la Marne), 100% chardonnay, converting to biodynamic, served with spicy prawns (Bob). When this wine was younger, it exhibited the smells of the ocean coast, of oysters almost, some of us loved it that way, and with time it has become round and well behaved with beautiful mineral character. ***

Gatinois : Brut Millésime 2002 (Aÿ, Vallée de la Marne), 90% Pinot Noir 10% Chardonnay, served with crostini of sardine fillets (Georges & Cathy). A powerful wine that fared well with the unctuous and almost delicate sardines. ***

Larmandier-Bernier : Terre de Vertus (Vertus, Côtes des Blancs), 100% chardonnay, biodynamic, served with a glass of shrimp, avocado and grapefruit (Laurent & Manu). Super intense wine that played well with the acidity of the grapefruit and the fat of the avocado, nice effect. ***

Roses de Jeanne : Blanc de Noirs « Les Ursules » (Celles-sur-Ource, Côte des Bar), 100% Pinot Noir, served on wild mushroom vol-au-vent (Jean Pierre & Evelyne). Autumn flavors on a delicate wine. **

Egly-Ouriet : Brut « VP » (Ambonnay, Côte des Noirs), 70% Pinot Noir 30% Chardonnay with 84 months of bottle aging, served with duck breast marinated in Lagavulin whisky, morels and a light Chinese imperial tea sauce (Mike & Cathy). Extraordinary rich balanced wine well matched to the smoky aroma of the duck. ***

Dehours & Fils : Blanc de Pinot Meunier 2003 (Cerseuil, Vallée de la Marne), 100% Pinot Meunier vinified in barrels, served with potatoes roasted in spiced "lardo" made by Elio's mum (Elio & Ute). A generous wine for these finely spiced spuds. **

Jacques Selosse : Exquise (Avize, Côte des Blancs), 100% chardonnay, dry,  dosage 18g/l, served as a finale after (not really with) a duo of traditional blancmange of real almond milk (i.e. made only with water and almonds) topped by a "Bellini" of white peaches and sparkling Provence rosé lightly gelled with xanthan gum and surrounded by a miniature tropezienne cake and a raspberry macaron. After a dessert with summer flavors, this truly unique wine with a hint of marmalade and Christmas pudding completed our tasting. ***

* = disappointing

** = nice

*** = excellent



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