Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some Bubbly And A Sauternes

Some Bubbly And A Sauternes

Pol Roger, Perrier-Jouët, Piper-Heidsieck, Louis Roederer,Gosset, ...these are some of the most exclusive names in the coveted appellation of France's Champagne region. And now it's their time to shine in the New Year spotlight.

Bubbly and New Year's Eve. They go together like caviar and blinis, oysters and aphrodisiacs.

And, as we all know, champagne comes only from the well-designated, well-demarcated geographical area East of Paris. It claims the cities of Epernay and Reims as its own. Everything else might be bubbly, but it can never be champagne.

Of course what's always fun is to learn the backstories of these gastronomic names of legend. When something becomes so lodged in our collective conscience as are certain brands of champagne, we forget that they started out as people who decided to build a business out of the grape. So, sit back, relax, pour yourself a flute or a "sacred cup" of the festive drink, and come with us on our succinct tour de force of Champagne and a Sauternes for a sweet finish:

La Maison Perrier-Jouët gets its names from a husband and a wife, respectively. Famous and easily recognizable as the bottle with the beautifully painted flowers - Japanese anemones - on its glass, the house was established first in 1811 when Pierre-Nicolas Perrier, estate owner, married Adèle Jouët. Their joined names went on the Champagne Estate's marquee and now 200 years, and only seven Cellar Masters later, the exquisite champagne is world-reknowned.

If you are in the mood to celebrate with the best of the best, Perrier-Jouët's Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs is the choice. It's a vintage that is sourced from a singular terroir, a singular year and a singular varietal. Only two parcels of Grands Crus Chardonnay were harvested  to create this champagne, "one of the most rare and exclusive in the world."

Perrier-Jouët, 28 Avenue de Champagne, Epernay, France

Piper Heidsieck Champagne and Louboutin Shoe Flute


You may be most familiar with Piper-Heidsieck as the champagne you drink from a lady's shoe - especially designed for the champagne house by Christian Louboutin. Or perhaps you know them best as one of the first and still main supporters of the Cannes Film Festival. But what you might not have known, is that back in 1785, at Versailles, Florens-Louis Heidsieck presented Marie-Antoinette herself his special champagne vintage.  A hundred years later, Fabergé decorated the bottle in gold, diamonds and lapis-lazuli.

And Marilyn Monroe? She said she went to sleep with a dab of Chanel No. 5 at her ear and awoke with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck champagne in her hand.

The house of Piper-Heidsieck just released their "Rare" 2002 Vintage only three months ago.  "Le Rare" is aged seven years in the cellar and made primarily from Chardonnay grapes with some Pinot Noir. Its subtle minerality plays as an hommage to Mount Reims. The bottle is beautifully designed with a filligreed gold dress. Girls like to wear it as a Tiara. Champagne fit for a Princess, or a Queen. "Le Rare," has only been made in the years 1988, 1998 and 2002 (just released.)

Piper-Heidsick, Reims, France  www.piper-heidsieck.com

Bruno Paillard Champagne

Bruno Paillard is a champagne that you have likely not yet had the chance to drink. Too bad for you. It is the youngest of the champagne houses, established in 1981 by then 27-year-old Bruno Paillard. In a region where champagne houses had existed for centuries already, Mssr. Paillard decided to sell his Jaguar MK2 and buy a vineyard with the capital he raised.

Today the Domain produces about 500,000 bottles (for comparison, Moët produces about 5 million) and he exports about 70% of his champagne to Asia, North America and the rest of Europe.

Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée, 100 % Chardonnay, is a "fresh, bright sparkler," says Parker who gives it 90 points.  Its bouquet is grapefruit and white flowers, its mouth is white pepper, lemon, lime. Wonderful as an aperitif and also can be paired with food.

Bruno Paillard, Avenue de Champagne, 51100 Reims, France   www.champagnebrunopaillard.com

Louis Roederer Cristal ChampagneLouis Roederer's future was setwhen Tsar Alexander II, already a devotee of the champagne, ordered his personal sommelier one day in 1876 to see to it that the bottles served in his court should be markedly distinguished from all others. Hence the birth of "Cristal." After the Russian Revolution of 1917, only then was Cristal allowed to be sold the world over.

The Louis Roederer house was first established in 1776 and has been in the same family since 1819. Today it can boast of being still one of the largest Champagne domains independently owned. They produce approximately 3 million bottles per year and sell in approximately 80 countries.

Champagne Louis Roederer, 51100 Reims, France www.champagne-roederer.com

Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill Cuvee'

Pol Roger has, for a long time, had friends in high places. During a dinner in Paris, the English Ambassador, Duff Cooper, introduced Sir Winston Churchill to Odette Pol-Roger. At that time, 1945, Sir Winston Churchill was already a man who had marked history. He was fond of saying that Pol Roger (Odette? the champagne?) incarnated all that was well and beautiful of France.

Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill; Its composition is a jealously guarded secret. It is a robust and mature champagne, one with characteristic power and refinement.

Pol Roger   1, rue Henri Le Large 51200 Epernay   www.polroger.com

Vve Fourny et Fils Champagne, VertusSince taking it over not too many years ago,brothers Henry and Emmanuel Fourny have transformed their family domain nestled in the traditional geographic are of Vertus in Champagne. They do something unusual with their Chardonnay, they cultivate it as if it were a Pinot Noir. Why? It has to do with their vineyards' South-South East exposure.

Vve Fourny et Fils Champagne Rose Premier Cru Vertus Brut has notes of rose and delicate, soft notes of hyacinth.  This vintage comes exclusively from the Domain's terroir, "Les Gilottes 1er Cru." Refined, velvety bubbles.

Champagne Veuve Fourny  5, rue du Mesnil, Vertus, France www.champagne-veuve-fourny.com

Gosset Champagne Gift Boxes

Gosset Champagne makes not just delicious champagne but also packages it in wonderful ready-to-gift packs. The Gosset Grand Reserve, 750 ml., is sold with a portable isothermic bottle keeper and a replaceable cork.  The house also sells cognac, which they make in the cognac region of France.  Another choice for their champagne is the "Excellence Brut" sold in 1500ml. bottles.

Champagne Gosset, 12 Rue Godart Roger, Epernay, 51200 www.champagne-gosset.com

Perrier Joseph Champagne

Joseph Perrier makes a beautiful gift bottle called the Glamour Josephine. It comes packaged in a red velvet-lined box. The ornate bottle is sure to please any discerning Diva-Luxe in your life who also knows good champagne.

Joseph Perrier Champagne  69 Av. de Paris, 51016 Châlons-en-Champagne France   www.josephperrier.com

Moet et Chandon, Vintage Champagne

Moët et Chandon. Who in the civilized world has not heard of Moët et Chandon? As noted earlier, producer of 5 million bottles per year, they can truthfully say they have a hold on a large portion of the world's market of champagne. That's a lot of New Year's Toasts!

Still, if you ever get the chance to go to the Domain it is well worth it. Why? Not only will you get the chance to tour the cellars, but you might just get the opportunity to taste their Grand Cru 1975.  Hint: it's  a champagne to drink on more occasions than just New Year's Eve!

Sauternes, Sweet Bordeaux

Now...as promised...A Sauternes. Chateau Bastor-LaMontagne. This Sauternes is a classic, class act. It is in fact a Grand Cru Classe'. Its pale, light acidity is a dessert in a drink, an aperitif that leads delightfully into the pop of a champagne cork. Delicate, refined, white blossom, pear and ginger.

I might even be tempted to create a champagne cocktail out of the two. Hello 2011!

www.sauternes-barsac.com *  www.sweetbordeaux.com





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Tours & Tastings, Culinary Specials for 2011

January Local Food And Wine Tastings & Tours Special

When you book 3 people on one of our Paris Tastings & Tours, the fourth person comes along for free.

Special good on Culinary Tours of 3 hours or more and on designated Cooking Class and Wine Tasting packages.

Contact us for Details and to Plan Your Itinerary.

Ask us about our February, Valentine's Specials for Couples. Chocolate, Champagne & Caviar!

Paris is the City of Food And Wine, as well as 
The City of Light!
Let Local Food And Wine - Paris show you the 
delicious offerings the city has in store for you.
Groups of 1 -10 accepted. Tours are from 2 - 4 hours.
Local Food And Wine - Wine Tastings
Local Food And Wine Paris Tasting Tours








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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Holidays From The Island

It's that time of year...Time to slow down, relax, and Eat & Drink! From our friends on the Island...wishing all of us joyous holidays and to remember to think of our fellow (hu)man especially during the holidays!  xo  Local Food And Wine




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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bettane & Desseauve Festival of Wine

Bettane & Desseauve's Festival of Wine

Le Grand Tasting, Paris

On a recent weekend in Paris, I found myself underneath the glass pyramid of the Louvre, in the grand marble Agora Exhibit Hall, spitting out champagne. And not just any champagne, the best champagne in the world:  Louis Roederer, BollingerVeuve Fourny et FilsPiper Heidsieck, Perrier- JouëtG. H. MummNicolas FeuillatteVeuve Clicquot PonsardinMoët et Chandon...When Moët poured me their 1975 Reserve Vintage, that's when I started drinking. It would have been a sacrilege to spit that out.

If there is a metaphor for the Festival of Wines that Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve have organized for 5 years now, it is this: Your cup runneth over.

le Grand Tasting, Paris, 2010 - Local Food And Wine

At the festival, named Le Grand Tasting, I found myself in an earthly paradise filled with many of the world's best wines, from mythical vintages to ones barely known outside of their own appellations, and most all of them from France. This year, 2010, as an exception, there was a side exhibit of Italian wines also featured.

As a local explained to me, Bettane & Desseauve are more than just a couple of France's most celebrated and respected wine journalists, they are even more than simply the authors of Le Grand Guide des Vins de France, they are the "Robert Parkers of France and French wines."

Bettane & Desseauve on Local Food And WineAnd they are exceptionally approachable people. You will not find Wine Snob here.

This year's event was held over the Friday and Saturday of December 10th and 11th at Paris's Le Carrousel du Louvre, which is the underground shopping center/ exhibit hall that is right underneath the Louvre. For a mere 25 Euros you could taste your way through more than 2000 wines and 350 individual producers from France and a small representation from Italy.

"We have Festivals of Film, we have Festivals of Litterature, but until Le Grand Tasting we haven't had a Festival of Wine...Every wine, like a book or a film, tells its own story. It is the story of the winemaker, of the creator, and sometimes, of genius..." said Thierry Desseauve who, with Michel Bettane, is the co-founder of Le Grand Tasting.


Desseauve and Bettane, according to Desseauve, have plans to take their show on the road to English-speaking countries. Their highly successful Hong Kong Festival of Wine earlier this year has injected them with enthusiasm and they are starting to eye the U.S. and Canada.Their Grand Guide des Vins de France will be published in English in 2011 by Abrams Books.

When asked how was it to take the Festival of Wines to Hong Kong, Desseauve replied that he enjoyed the Chinese habit of embracing fast-paced development and he also noted that as Europeans, they are accustomed to dealing with significantly different cultures and languages. He pointed out that Germany, Italy, Spain are just as different from French culture as is the Chinese culture, in many respects.  Both Bettane and Desseauve invested many years as journalist and wine critic at La Revue du Vin de France until it was bought by the Marie Claire publishing group five years ago, which is the same time they founded Le Grand Tasting.

According to Bernadette Vizioz, press liaison for the event, 10,000 people attended Le Grand Tasting over the course of two days. It's not hard for them to keep count, the price of admission includes a glass for the wine tastings, supplied by Riedel. The attendees on average were surprisingly young and very much the trendsetting crowd. I've heard mention a few times that the regional wine syndicates are actively promoting their wines particularly among the French whose consumption of their native juice is down significant percentage points in recent decades.

Le Grand Tasting does its part to elevate wine drinking to its proper podium among Gen Y in France. And the event is doing so in ways that present the people who make the wine as people who are just like you and me, except they spend their days in grape vineyards and in fermenting cellars. What sold out in advance were the special courses, such as the Master Class, that took place simultaneously in the rooms adjacent to the Hall Agora. The standout of these courses was, according  to French site iDealwine « Le Génie du Vin ».

The 'Genius of Wine' class, included Cuvée René Lalou by Mumm (1998 Vintage), Chateau Angélus 2000, Chateau Gruaud Larose 2000, Clos de La Roche GC (2004) from Domaine Dujac,  Châteauneuf du Pape (1998 Domaine duVieux Télégraphe,  château Climens 1989, Ridge Monte Bello represents California and finally riesling Clos Ste Hune 2000 by Trimbach.

Another sold out course offering, of which there were 20 separate classes, was l'Ecole des Terroirs. I managed to bump into a few Americans while I roamed the airy, well-lit, elegant and wonderfully climatised hall - underneath the Louvre! - who were thrilled to have just accidentally happened upon the festival last year.

This husband and wife marvelled at the feast of wines they were getting to taste, all for a mere 25 Euro entrance fee. They loved last year's event so much that they actually planned their trip around the Festivalthis year. We North Americans couldn't help but compare Napa's $25 average cost per wine tasting flight/ per winery to the 25 Euro entrance fee which put 2000 wines, including the best champagnes in the world, at your fingertips and lips. The only limitation to your wine tasting is the hours in a day and your stamina for how many tastings you can fit in.

Le Grand Tasting marked a few firsts this year,  notably in the category of positioning themselves more internationally. To that effect their Italian space welcomed 2000 visitors in a relatively small area of 90sq. meters located towards the back of one of the main halls.

In addition, this was the first year that they invited notable European wine critics:  José Penin (Espagne, Penin), Neil Beckett (Grande-Bretagne, World Of Fine Wine), Armin Diel (Allemagne), Marco Sabellico (Italie, Gambero Rosso), Enzo Vizzari (Italie,L’Espresso)!

An elegant, hip, affordable, culturally illuminating wine tasting event,  Le Grand Tasting's Festival of Wine is not to be missed.

Read More Here: Guy Savoy and Thierry Desseauve discuss holiday food + wine pairings.




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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Caviar Kaspia, Paris

Caviar Kaspia: Amour, Passion, Folie

After the opening private reception for BVLGARI at the Grand Palais, where else would one dine than at Caviar Kaspia, Pl. Madeleine?

The more wisdom (?) I accrue, the more I realize that the world is but one big treasure. The key is to intuit the map that allows you to decipher the secret passages that guide you to the soft, exquisite, and often delicious, hidden treasures.

For the most part, the "hidden" treasures are hidden in plain sight. Paris is full of these. One of the most famous is Caviar Kaspia.

Caviar Kaspia sits discreetly and prominently, on the Place de la Madeleine and has done since 1953. When he founded his business in Paris in 1927, Russian immigrant Arcady Fixon simply wanted to share the culinary best his country had to offer with the city's glitterati. In those days, when Paris was  comfortably settling into its own as the world capital of haute couture, of arts and letters,  of the ballet and opera...Caviar Kaspia instantly appealed not just to the Russian artistocracy who were flocking to the city, but also to the elegant society as they retired from their evenings at the Opera or Comèdie Française, to the dancers from the visiting Russian Ballet of Monte Carlo...indeed Caviar Kaspar quickly became the place to dine for Paris's privileged society.

Private Dining On Place de la Madeleine

Walking up the narrow wooden stairs on the left as you enter the 8eme's Caviar shop, you begin to feel like you have just fallen down the rabbit hole. For the upstairs dining room is sumptuousness itself. On a cold wintry December night, sipping Cuvée Kaspia champagne, swallowing dollops of Beluga Caviar, and washing it all down with velvety, fiery, iced Russian vodka...well, does it get any better? Oh yes, imagine having the chance to talk to the Bulgari jewels exhibit designer for the Grand Palais Paris show during dinner. Ok, now, can it possibly get any better?

But it does. The service as Caviar Kaspar is the kind that is impossible to train for. Either a person understands graciousness and has the gift of anticipatory intuitiveness, or they don't. At Caviar Kaspar, the waiters are not just handsome, they are gracious, discreet, present, and anticipate all your desires even if it's simply to replace your slightly warmed glass of champagne with a fresh, exquisitely chilled one.

The iconic restaurant creates seasonal special menus. Click HERE kaspia_sylvestre for the Menu de la Saint-Sylvestre 2010. Their classic appetizer is the raw smoked salmon served with blinis. But if your palate is searching for lighter and flavorful, the crabe royal du Kamchatka salad is divinity expressed on a dinner plate.

Beluga Caviar with Russian Baked Potato, Caviar Kaspia, Paris

Caviar served on a baked potato is one of the Kaspia signatures. Honestly, it is so easy to forget one's good breeding when you see something like that in front of you. The impulse is to dive in. Thank the sea gods that they serve the dish with a small flat spoon that is perfectly designed to lift the caviar off the top of the potato and savor it all on its own.

They offer two categories of caviar: wild or "caviars sauvage" and cultivated or "caviars d'elevage." Of the former category you can try these varieties: Beluga, Oscietre, Sevruga and caviar pressé.

Or you can try: Oscietre Tradition, Caviar d'Esturgeon Blanc, Caviar Impérial Baeri,  Caviar de l'Empereur, Caviar de Printemps.

Caviar Etiquette

As the Parisian purveyors of caviar, they follow a few rules of etiquette for serving and tasting caviar. These are designed to release the fullest flavor and experience of caviar's subtle tastes.

They allow the caviar to "decant," or aerate for at least 15 minutes before serving on a small mountain of ice.  Avoid allowing the tiny grains of caviar to have contact with anything metallic, which is why it is always served at Caviar Kaspar with the small spoon made of either porcelain, glass, or mother of pearl. Always allow yourself the time to roll the small eggs around in your mouth before biting into them to help release their fullest flavor. Always serve with neutral accompaniments such as blinis or baked potato. The drink to pair the meal with is champagne or chilled Russian vodka.

The small dining room that accommodates up to 18 people that is just off to the left of the main dining room has a hidden cache of pictures of top models dancing on its table tops. Which is a good reminder that although caviar is a serious gastronomic delight, we needn't be so serious about it that we forget to delight in the sheer raw exquisite pleasure of the experience. Snow. Place Madeleine, Paris. Bulgari jewels. Grand Palais. Caviar Kaspia. Champagne. Delightful company. Gracious service.

The world is indeed full of treasures!

Caviar Kaspia, 17 Place de la Madeleine, Paris 75008




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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

L'étoile d'Or {chocolat} Boutique

Post by Eric Tenin of Paris Daily Photo


Denise owns the Etoile d'Or chocolate shop in Paris, just next to the Moulin Rouge!

Yesterday I had lunch at rue Lepic, with Grazia, an Italian friend of mine who lives in Paris and knows it like the back of her hand. When she asked "what's going to be you PDP photo today?" I replied. "Er... I don't know yet". She said "follow me I have the perfect idea for you..." Then she dragged me into Denise's A l'étoile d'or boutique, the chocolate lovers' den,  at rue Fontaine (a few feet away from the Moulin Rouge). Oh my! What a gas. Not only is Denise an extraordinary character, but on top of that she really knows what she's talking about when it comes to chocolate. You HAVE  to visit this place if you come to Paris. No wonder David Lebovitz (the Paris chocolate master, among other things) spotted her a long time ago already...




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