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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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The Bubble Report

Champagne Trends: Big News from Big Producers

Here, F&W's Megan Krigbaum offers a visual guide to buying Champagne for New Year's Eve, and the latest news from the region's top producers.

Champagne Matrix

Photos, clockwise from top left: Courtesy of Chartoque-Taillet, Gimonnet & Fils, The Rare Wine Co., Krug, Maisons Marques & Domaines, Perrier-Jouët, Bollinger, Moët, Nicholas Feuillatte.

Charles Heidsieck

This house’s Brut Réserve ($65) has long been a favorite among Champagne insiders. Now it’s even better. By raising the amount of reserve wines in the blend (which have an average age of 10 years) to 40 percent, new chef de cave Thierry Roset has given it remarkable depth and complexity for a basic brut.

Lanson

Lanson recently released a terrifically complex Extra Age Brut ($100), a blend of wines from three great vintages. Even more enticing: The house has also started selling library vintages from its cellars in Reims, some dating back to the 1970s.

Ruinart

With new Interprétation kits, Ruinart helps neophytes judge scents like sommeliers. The NV Brut Rosé kit ($99) has eight vials of scents, from pomegranate to rose, for you to sniff; then you can look for the same aromas in the wine. sherry-lehmann.com.

Trendspotting

Where to Drink Champagne Now

Portland, Oregon's Pix Pâtisserie/Bar Vivant.

Bar Vivant, Portland; Photo © Dina Avíla Photography.

Festive and versatile, impressive Champagne selections are now everywhere, from a tree house in France to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. F&W’s Megan Krigbaum celebrates the news. Plus, Champagne Lexicon so you can know what you're ordering.

Chicago: Bubbles Wine Bar
Finding a good glass of wine at an airport is nearly impossible, but at this new spot in O’Hare, travelers can order Champagnes like Taittinger’s NV Brut La Française and sample artisanal cheeses while waiting for flights. Terminal 3, O’Hare Airport.

 

New York City: Corkbuzz Wine Studio
Owner Laura Maniec (whose expertise we tap for Tasting Workout), wants everyone to drink Champagne every day. So she’s started her Champagne Campaign: Each night starting at 10 p.m., every bottle of Champagne on her list is half-off, including pricey têtes de cuvée like the 2002 Dom Ruinart Brut. 13 E. 13th St.; corkbuzz.com.

New York City: L’Apicio
At his new East Village restaurant, co-owner and sommelier Joe Campanale serves 30 sparkling wines by the bottle. At least eight are grower Champagnes (small-production wines from individual estates). 13 E. First St.; lapicio.com.

Pittsburgh: Perlé
Co-owner Peter Landis developed a special draft system just for his new Market Square spot, which always keeps five sparkling wines on tap. His other 22 sparkling selections are served by the bottle. 25 Market Sq.; perlepgh.com.

Portland, OR: Pix Pâtisserie/Bar Vivant
“Every December, we’ve had 100 Champagnes on offer, but starting last year, I decided to keep them year-round,” says owner–pastry chef–Champagne fiend Cheryl Wakerhauser of Pix and the new Bar Vivant, a tapas bar. 2225 E. Burnside St.; pixpatisserie.com.

Verzy, France: Perchingbar
This unusual treehouse bar sits 18 feet above the ground in a park outside the town of Verzy. Guests can have glasses of Bollinger or Pehu Simonet in the clubby lounge or on the huge wraparound deck surrounded by trees. Plan ahead, though, as it’s open only during warmer months. perchingbar.eu.

CHAMPAGNE LEXICON

Blanc de Blancs White Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes.

Dosage A blend of wine and sugar that is added to most Champagne at the final bottling to offset the acidity of the wine.

Blanc De Noirs White Champagne made from red Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Mousse The foam that appears at the top of a glass of Champagne when it’s poured.

Brut Dry, meaning that the wine has a minimal dosage—less than 12 grams of sugar per liter.

Wine Wednesday

Alternative Sparklers for Summer

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Image courtesy of Rustico.

Courtesy of Rustico.

Ray's top three sparkling wines under $20. Also, how to avoid fast-flying corks and unintentional champagne showers. »

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Winemakers

All Good Things

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You know the rest of that line, right? Well, it's with some small amount of sadness that I am saying that about this blog: It must come to an end. I've had a terrific time writing it, but we've decided that in the end it's a bit strange, for a magazine that's all about bringing together food and wine, to have separate blogs on those topics.

So, from here on out, any wine blogging that I (and Megan Krigbaum, Kristin Donnelly, and various other stalwart folks) do will instead appear in F&W's primary blog, Mouthing Off. No less wine coverage, just a different venue. See you there.

Ray Isle

Wines Above $40

Shipwrecked Champagne

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A bottle the divers didn't chug.
Last summer, divers discovered a cache of incredibly old Champagne in a shipwreck off Finland's Åland islands. Today, someone snatched up part of it. Two 1840s-vintage bottles (one from the long-gone Juglar house, the other from the ubiquitous Veuve Clicquot) sold at auction for 54,000 euros (about $39,000 a bottle). That's plenty, but only half of what Champagne expert Richard Juhlin speculated they might sell for, and much less than the $130,000 that someone recently paid for a huge bottle of the so-so (but Jay-Z-approved) Armand de Brignac. So maybe today's winning bidder scored a deal.

What happened to the other 145 bottles? At least one was consumed, immediately, by the divers who discovered it. One told the press: "It had a very sweet taste. You could taste oak and it had a very strong tobacco smell." Sound enticing? You can hope that the Finnish government releases more.

If you missed the chance to bid, console yourself with 10 much more affordable Champagnes (and other excellent sparkling wines), plus pairings like crunchy hush puppies with Tabasco-spiked remoulade.

News

Royal (Yes, Them Again) Wine

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So, were they waiting till after the wedding to make this announcement? According to England's The Daily Mail, the royal family is going to start producing sparkling wine from one of its estates, Windsor Great Park. Apparently they'll plant more than 16,000 grapevines there in the next couple of weeks. Sparkling would be appropriate, of course—Pol Roger Brut Champagne was served at the recent royal wedding reception (much to my chagrin, as I'd predicted it might be Bollinger when I was on the Today show the Wednesday before the wedding).

Wines Under $20

Last Minute Bubbly: CBS Early Show

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If you haven't stocked up on sparkling wine or Champagne for New Year's yet, here's a clip from the CBS Early Show this morning, where I went through a number of great, affordable possibilities with host Harry Smith. I was also on the CNBC WSJ Report with Maria Bartiromo over the weekend, talking a bit more about the business side of sparkling wine, along with some recommendations. The video on their site isn't working at the moment for some reason, but here's the text of the story.

Champagne

12 Days of Wine Gifts, Day 3

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© Christopher Klapp/Petrossian West Hollywood
Petrossian's Champagne and Caviar Coffret

Some might call me a failure at this 12 Days of Wine Gifts business, but I’ve just been holding on to some excellent things to wallop you with all at once, so I will magically turn three days in to one. So, here, the first installment.

I will not be purchasing this gift for anyone this year, but if I had $490 dollars to spend on one person, this would definitely be high up on my list. Petrossian Caviar’s West Hollywood shop has put together a pretty over-the-top set called the Caviar and Champagne Coffret that contains of 125 grams of Tsar Imperial Transmontanous Caviar, two half-bottles of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne and two mother-of-pearl spoons. I might be tempted to tack on a couple of these metal straws  to encourage drinking the Champagne straight from the bottles. Unfortunately, this set isn’t available on the Petrossian website, but you can call the shop directly to place orders at 310-271-0576.

Wine Shops

Dom Pérignon's Tribute to Andy Warhol

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Andy Warhol was a big fan of Dom Pérignon. So much so that he and his friends made a plan to drink it to ring in the new millennium in 2000. In his diary entry from March 8, 1981, he writes: “...the ‘2,000’ people — it’s a club of twenty guys who got together and they're going to buy 2,000 bottles of Dom Pérignon which they will put in a sealed room until the year 2000 and then open it up and drink it and so the running joke is who will be around and who won’t...” The stashed bottles have never been found, nor have the other 19 members of the group been identified. It almost makes you want to go on a scavenger hunt!

Now, in a tribute to the pop-art legend, Dom Pérignon has teamed up with Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London for a limited-edition collection of three Andy Warhol–inspired bottles, vintage 2002. The labels, in red, yellow or blue, recall Warhol’s bold use of color and graphics.

The bottles are available today at a suggested retail price of $150, in NYC at Crush Wine & Spirits and Sherry-Lehmann.

Winemakers

Tasting with Dom Pérignon's Richard Geoffroy

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Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 2000
Contrary to popular belief, it's not every day that I get to taste brand new vintages of Dom Pérignon with its Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy. In fact, I'd never done this until last week when I, of course, jumped at the chance. For being the winemaker of what's arguably the most highly esteemed Champagne in the world, Geoffroy is remarkably well-grounded and funny and easy to chat with. He even has a blog.

The matters at hand were Dom Pérignon's newest rosés, of which there are two. The first, the 2000 Dom Pérignon Rosé, is a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but Geoffroy thinks the wine "makes a statement on Pinot Noir. The point is to go for the Pinot Noir-the holy grail of winemakers and consumers."  The 2000 vintage is a delicate golden salmon color and has the power, tannic structure and strawberry and sweet cherry fruit of Pinot Noir, balanced by a roundness on the palate and minerality, thanks to the Chardonnay. It's a duality that Geoffroy calls "very Dom Pérignon." The price, a cool $350, is also very Dom Pérignon.

The second wine we tasted was extraordinarily exciting, but, unfortunately, you won't ever be able to get it. Let me repeat: you won't ever find this wine. There will only be 350 bottles of it in the U.S. That said, the 1990 Dom Pérignon Œnothèque Rosé (the very first Œnothèque Rosé ever released in this country) is just dazzling.  Œnothèque bottlings are late releases of particularly great vintages, and 1990 is especially important to Geoffroy because it was his first vintage at Dom Pérignon. The copper-toned wine is at once mellow but intense; creamy with spectacular acidity; and has remarkable longevity on the palate. "What I'm after is the lasting sensation of something," says Geoffroy. "I want the finish to be a seamless, gliding, holding note." I'd say he hit his mark.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.