Monday, December 3, 2012

French Week continues with champagnes

10:28 AM 3/12/2012

I was about to move on to a local restaurant review, when I was invited to a champagne tasting by ChateauAsia, and so here is the extension of French Week, with a feature on some interesting champagnes. can one say no to it? I guess the then French Emperor Napolean was famously qouted as saying, “In victory you deserve it, in defeat you need it.”

An essential lubricant and aperitif of choice in the luxury the many horology events I attend in a year. Champagne is served all day, from breakfast at the food stations in the SIHH. As are available in most of the booths in the Salon. And served with gusto before dinner, and even during. A drink for all time.

Chateau Asia is an interesting new wine concept house, recently set up in Singapore. Set up by some French nationals who reside here, they offer hand picked wines from all French regions. And offer them for sale on their website in limited quantity for a limited period. Prices, I find are very reasonable.

This tasting was done at the Tower Club at Republic Plaza...the playground of the rich and famous movers and shakers in Singapore industry. Set atop the Republic Plaza within the CBD, it offers spectacular views within and without.

The tasting started with a small glass of sparkling wine from France to set the stage to showcase the real champagnes. This was the Jalance Chardonnay Brut NV..selling only for S$25 a bottle. 100% chardonnay, Languedoc-Roussilon. Citrusy, lightly flowery. Bubbles a bit large...perhaps crude, and dissipates quickly.

As one knows, the method champenoise is used to produce sparkling wine...and the appelation is only applied if the wine is produced in the province of Champagne in France. All other terrior are simply known as sparkling wine. And indeed some, like the Asti Spumante and various sparkling wines from Australia are very good. But none have the same prestige, the same aura, the same je ne sai quoi as a real champagne.

So the next bottle to be opened was a rather inexpensive champagne...S$49 a bottle. The Charles du Roy. Brut NV.

This is a traditional mix of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay...the bubbles were somewhat more powerful and persistent. Beautiful, bright straw champagne colour. On the nose delicate, flowers, dried fruits were faintly noticable. On the palate, very fresh, crisp. Not as dry as some would have liked, but very approachable.

Next the only Grand Cru we tasted that evening, and only one of 17 Champagne Grand Crus. The Paul Louis Martin Grand Cru. Selling for $68 a bottle.

60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Very fruity nose, beautiful bouquet. And on the palate a fullness, a sharp tinge. Very refined.

We progressed to the more exotic Heidsieck Monopole Rose Top

I am quite familiar with Charles Heinsieck...this the regular pouring champagnes in Singapore Airline's Business Class. But a rose, where the Pinot Noir skins are left just a bit longer to impinge the beautiful light rose hue is a bit more exotic.

I had expected a more sweet palate, perhaps the rose reminded of kir royale...a cocktail of champagne and cherry liqueur, but the Monopole Rose was well balance. Light, delicious. Hints of berries - perhaps raspberries and strawberries were present on the nose. $75 a bottle.

Then comes the big guns...first a blanc de blanc...the Ruinart

The champagne of choice in Lange events in Germany, this is a very special champagne. Made from 100% Chardonnay...hence the moniker blanc de blancs (white of whites), it is a blend of Chardonnay from various years.

The champagne is a beautiful pale gold glow. Beautiful, persistent bubbles. The nose hits with an intense fresh fruit and then follows by floral overtones. On the palate, very full, rounded. Citrus was apparant, and beautiful finish. Very elegant.

And rounding up the tasting...the magnificent Dom Perignon 1999.

What can one say. A Dom is a Dom. Beautiful, complex fullness. Powerful intensity, very pronounced finish. 1999 is just begun to be beautiful for drinking. Not as powerful as 1975 or even 1990. But nevertheless, a magnificent champagne.

Always wonderful to drink champagne...many thanks to Elodie Dorfiac for the invitation and Arnaud Blandin for hosting and information overload.


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