Champagne Tasting at Café Maxx
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 06:30 PM
This Event has been read: 1413 times.
Flashback to Bogart and Bergman's romance in Paris, when they're drinking bubbly in a cafe. As Bogart's faithful friend Sam (Dooley Wilson, a drummer in real life) plays "As Time Goes By" on the piano, Bogie says the cafe owner "says to finish this bottle and then three more. He says he'll water his garden with Champagne before he'll let the Germans drink it."
Wilson then says, "This ought to take the sting out of being occupied," before Bogart makes cinema's most famous toast, to Bergman: "Here's looking at you, kid."
This is the last one of our Wednesday night tastings at Cafe Maxx for the year and this is the time of year for tiny bubbles so were busting out the Champagne to celebrate. The important thing to remember about the tiny bubbles that we are serving at this event is that they are all produced using the method Champenoise. This is the method that was developed in the Champagne region of France over the last few hundred years.
There are many people through the years that have been credited with inventing Champagne but this method of production was developed by many individuals over the course of a few hundred years. Dom Perignon is one of the more noteworthy figures who has being credited with several advances in this method like better glass, bringing the natural cork enclosure back to this region (which was important in keeping these tiny bubbles in the bottle) and also being a master blender.
One of the things that make Champagne unique is that it is usually a blend of 2-3 different vintages and as many different grape varietals, so there is usually no varietal on the label, nor is there a vintage.
The secondary fermentation is also another thing that is unique to Champagne and the important thing to note here is that the fermentation happens in the bottle that you are drinking out of. This is a very labor intensive process and by law Champagne has to be aged on the lees during this secondary fermentation process for at least 15 months. Many of the top wines in Champagne are aged for even longer than this and one of my favorites Krug’s Grand Cuvee takes 20 years to make!!
Join us as we experience some bubbles as we toast to the last of our Wednesday tastings this year. Chef Oliver Saucy will be sending out a few small courses to accompany the tasting wines. The fee for this tasting is $35 + tax, for reservations call 954-782-0606.
Champagne Tasting at Cafe Maxx
Wednesday, November 28th
Mumm Napa Cuvee M Sparkling Napa
Price: $22.50 Sale $19.80 Case $229.50
The naturally ripened fruit selected from more than 50 separate vineyards, reveals layers of crisp and creamy textures that are rich and lingering. Individually selected lots were kept separate during initial fermentation in order to highlight their vineyard differences and extract the quintessence of their specific strengths. The resulting blend is a soft and elegant wine that highlights the delicious and powerful ripe fruit flavors that characterize the world-class grapes of the Napa Valley.
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne NV
Price: $33.75 Sale $29.70 Case $345
(92 Points) Rich and creamy, showing the dried fruit, nut and spice notes of fruitcake, with lemon meringue, quince and honey flavors. Clean citrusy acidity integrates beautifully and provides an elegance to this refined Champagne. Drink now through 2020. –AN Wine Spectator, Issue: Dec 31, 2011
Pommery Brut Royal Champagne NV
Price: $39.00 Sale $36.52 Case $398
(89 Points) Rich and verging on full-bodied, suggesting a high proportion of Pinot. The aromas and flavors are broad, with toast and berry notes allied to a firm backbone of acidity. Ideal for food and aging. Drink now through 2003. –BS Wine Spectator Issue: Nov 30, 2000
Gosset Brut Excellence Champagne NV
Price: $37.50 Sale $33.00 Case $383
(92 Points) Refined and creamy, with delicate acidity that finds fine balance with the layers of poached apple and pear, lemon cake, ground ginger, smoke and almond cream flavors. Very elegant. Drink now through 2020. 28,000 cases made. –AN Wine Spectator Issue: Dec 31, 2011
Gosset Grand Reserve Brut Champagne NV
Price: $72 Sale $63.36 Case $735
(91 Points) Lively, with good balance and subtle flavors of green apple, Meyer lemon, chalk and spice. Lightly crunchy, with a fresh, lip-smacking finish. Drink now. 41,000 cases made. –AN Wine Spectator, Issue: Dec 31, 2011
Nicolas Feuillatte Cuvee 225 Brut Champagne NV
Price: $120 Sale $105.60 Case $1224
(91 Points) Richly spiced, with ground ginger, cardamom and clove notes, this offers refined texture and flavors of glazed apricot, rum cake, kirsch and a hint of chalky mineral. Offers a fresh, smoky finish. Drink now through 2020. –AN Wine Spectator Issue: Dec 31, 2012
Heidsieck & Co Monopole Rose Brut Champagne NV
Price: $48.00 Sale $42.24 Case $490
Winery Notes: A blend of 70% Pinot Noir (18% Bouzy Rouge incl.) 20% Chardonnay 10% Pinot MeunierClear and bright. The nose displays a predomination of red berries, raspberries and wild strawberries...This Champagne is well-balanced, light and vivacious, and deliciously fruity on the palate. Champagne Rose Top Heidsieck & Co Monopole is charming as an aperitif, and marries very well with salmon. It is also the perfect accompaniment to virtually any dessert.
The fee for this tasting is $35 + tax, for reservations call 954-782-0606.
CHAMPAGNE AND SPARKLING WINE SALE!!
Everything in the store is on SALE for the holidays. You can take 12% off the list price of any Champagne or Sparkling wine in the store during the last week of November and all of December.
I found a great article on Champagne from one of my favorite web pages www.winedoctor.com by Chris Kissack. If you have not checked out this web site I highly recommend it Chris does an incredible job as you can see in this article below.
Across the centuries this most famous of wine regions has enjoyed huge significance within France, not only as a vital trading crossroads but as a cultural, religious and viticultural centre. But it has also endured much over the years; not just the ups and downs of selling wine to sometimes erratic foreign markets, and more than the vineyard diseases such as mould and phylloxera, crosses which nearly all French vineyards have had to bear in recent times. Its position at the centre of old Europe may have afforded it a valuable advantage as a centre for trade, but it has also made the region vulnerable to invasion and war. More than once the vineyards of Champagne have been ravaged by the actions of invading and defending armies.
The viticultural blueprint of Champagne perhaps begins, as it does further south in Burgundy, with the Roman empire, when early vineyards were established. It is one of many features the two regions have in common, more obvious similarities including the dominance of two noble varieties here, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. And just as religion has played its role in the development of the vineyards of Burgundy, so too has its influence been seen and felt here, in Champagne. As long ago as the 5th century a warrior-king named Clovis ruled here, and having defeated the marauding Goths he converted to Christianity, being anointed by the then bishop of Reims, St Rémi. Over the several hundred years that followed Reims evolved into Medieval France's predominant religious centre, and during eight centuries nearly 40 kings were crowned here, ending with Charles X in 1825. With religious status came wealth and grandeur of course, as indicated today by the imposing edifice that is Reims cathedral. This religious benevolence naturally fed down into the local towns and vineyards, conveyed in some part by local monasteries, not least the Benedictine order located at Hautvillers.
How could any history of Champagne not pay some homage to Pierre Pérignon? Some accounts would have this acolyte creating Champagne in its entirety from a pre-existing void, but many of his alleged achievements have been mis-ascribed or over-played. That is not to deny his role in the introduction of English glass, a stronger material which could withstand the pressure generated by secondary fermentation in bottle, nor is it to deny his introduction of the cork as a closure method. But Champagne per se was not his invention.
Champagne Wine Guide: HistoryIndeed, the concept of capturing the gases of secondary fermentation to produce a sparkling wine is unlikely to have its origin in the Champagne region at all. It is here, I would argue, that the modern results of this process are at their most broadly successful, but there is convincing evidence that it all began elsewhere. Documents recording the activities at another Benedictine abbey at St Hilaire, near Limoux, describe the production of a sparkling wine from the local Blanquette variety (better known today as Mauzac) in 1531, 107 years before Pérignon was born. Admittedly what these monks described was a natural phenomenon seen in any cold cellar rather than anything that approximates to what we might call Champagne. As the cellar temperature drops during winter the fermentation will eventual peter out, only to begin with renewed vigour as the temperatures rise again the following spring. This is not so much secondary fermentation but a prolonged and interrupted primary fermentation, nevertheless their work was at the very least an appreciation that sparkling wines had appeal. Today the concept is embodied in the Limoux Méthode Ancestrale appellation, under which the partially fermented wines are bottled during the waning moon in the March following the harvest - and on a basic level it is the same process employed at a number of domaines in Vouvray to produce a pétillant style of sparkling wine.
But there is better evidence than this. In a paper presented to the Royal Society in London in 1662, six years before Pérignon arrived at Hautvillers to assume his role as cellar master, Christopher Merret described the deliberate induction of a secondary fermentation with the sole intention of producing a sparkling wine. The paper was entitled 'Some observations concerning the ordering of wines', and it neatly declares that this sparkle is achieved by the addition of sugar. Nevertheless, we are still quite correct to take Dom Pérignon as a starting point for Champagne's modern history. Alongside his innovations concerning glass and cork, he also encouraged blending across sites as a method of ameliorating quality, and described how white wines could be made from black grapes, an essential practice considering about 40% of Champagne's vineyards are occupied by Pinot Noir.
Champagne as Industry
Champagne Wine Guide: HistoryPérignon died in 1715, and less than two decades later came the very first Champagne house, Ruinart, established in 1729. Nevertheless this was more of a Champagne evolution than a revolution, and it was only during the course of the 18th and early 19th centuries that the sparkling wines slowly came to dominate, gradually edging out the pale and rather delicate red wines that had preceded them. Names that today are synonymous with the region begin to appear on the scene; Claude Moët in 1743, for example, followed by Philippe Clicquot in 1772. In 1785 Florenz-Ludwig Heidsieck established the forerunner of all the Heidsieck houses, Memmie Jacquesson set up in 1798, and Joseph Jacob Placide Bollinger arrived in the region to take up employment in 1822. The vineyards expanded, production increased and new markets were opened. Wherever the French went so did the Champagne merchants, and the wines of the region were soon being shipped all over the world; not just England and Western Europe, but Russia and North America too.
With a greater appreciation of viticulture and winemaking came a demystification of the secondary fermentation in bottle, the Méthode Champenoise, and during the latter years of the 19th century Champagne production moved from a small scale activity to an industry of international significance. With such an upscaling of production came new techniques designed to improve quality and smooth out the flow of production, methods for securing the cork, finessing the secondary fermentation and ridding the finished wine of the cloudy sediment that resulted. Many of these innovations, having been introduced, remain essential components of the méthode to this very day. Rather than deal with them here, I will provide more detail on these techniques in the section of this guide dealing with winemaking. Nevertheless it is essential to acknowledge here, in this brief history of the region, that the new knowledge, methods and technologies developed in Champagne in the past three hundred years have been essential in shaping the region and the wine into what it is today.
On the back of such dramatic developments we might have expected the 20th century to have been a golden era for Champagne. As it was, global political events did their utmost to stymie this, with economic depression, prohibition and global war all playing their parts. Naturally the impact of these latter events was felt far and wide by many, and were in no way peculiar to Champagne, but war did hit this region particularly hard. The city of Reims was largely destroyed by bombing during World War I and extensive rebuilding during the 1920s was required. During both World Wars the vineyards saw extensive damage, through the trampling of heavy boots, the passage of military vehicles and repeated episodes of bombing and shelling. As a horrific but poignant reminder of these tragic events the region is today dotted with a number of multinational military cemeteries, which altogether hold many thousands of graves.
Fortunately the latter half of the 20th century was kinder to the Champagne region, and today we have here a very successful region turning out some excellent wines. And there have been some interesting developments during the past few decades, not least the appearance of the prestige cuvée, led by Roederer's Cristal and Moët's Dom Pérignon. But this is still a region very much in a state of flux. Although still dominated by the long-established houses and the magic of the blender, the chef de cave, today there is an increasing awareness of smaller, independent growers, and with their growing importance we can perhaps expect a greater awareness of regionality, of terroir, within Champagne. The markets are far from stable, and in recent years we seem to have lurched from threatened shortage in anticipation of the millennium celebrations as the year 2000 marched in, to more recent glut, a state which led the local authorities in 2009 to impose limits on production following the 2009 harvest. And there is controversy too, as the Champagne vineyard looks set to expand over the next decade or so. An INAO ruling in 2009 has laid out new limits for the Champagne appellation, both for the region of production - where the wine can be made - and, of more certain importance, the region within which the grapes can be grown. The process of defining new vineyards and villages entitled to be part of the Champagne appellation will take years, but it is undoubtedly a process that will be regarded with a keen interest by all committed drinkers, commentators and critics of the region.
So Champagne is set to change, to evolve further, but whatever happens to Champagne itself one thing is immutable; the winemaking, including the méthode Champenoise. And this is the subject of the next two sections of my guide. (28/12/00, last updated 17/2/10) www.winedoctor.com
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