Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut - Aÿ, Champagne, France


Bollinger  Spcial Cuvée Brut -  Aÿ, Champagne, France

by Paige Donner

Tasting Notes :  Hints of roasted apples, spiced apple compote, peaches greet your nose after your eyes have been seduced by the fluttering of fine bubbles in that golden champagne color indicative of a Pinot Noir predominant blend. Full-bodied and toasty pretty much sums it up but also perhaps oversimplifies the aromatic complexity of this champagne. Creamy on the palate with notes of brioche, pear, green apple – with some spicy and a bit of walnut that all goes down on the velvet of the very fine Bollinger bubbles.  12% alc. Between 8 -9 gr. Dosage.

Price: $57.99 (approx.)

Production Notes :  The secret to this iconic NV champagne is that it is mostly reserve wine, some aged in magnums for over 15 years in the Bollinger cellars in Aÿ, blended with harvest grapes. And, as any champagne aficionado knows, champagne ages superbly in magnums, a process that helps it acquire that biscuity, toasty quality so emblematic of the best champagnes. Over 85% of this blend is Grands and Premiers Crus; 60% Pinot Noir,  25% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier.

Pair With :  Sushi and sashimi – the fresher the better; pata negra and prosciutto; Also grilled lobster, prawns; poultry and white meat; cashews, parmesan. Serve between 10 – 12˚C. You can keep it up to 8 years – that is, if you don’t drink it all now.

Notes from the Housefor those who know that true elegance is born of simplicity will appreciate to the full this commitment to aesthetics and succinctness. It is also a reflection of the House’s commitment to concentrating on the essential: creating fine and good wines. Because in the end, everything else is simply superfluous.

The House of Bollinger Champagne began many decades before, but “Aunt Lily,” as she was known to her family members, still figures prominently in the House’s style and legacy ever since she was at the helm of the house in the 1950s until her passing in 1977. She is probably one of the most quoted dames of Champagne (see below).

Originally a Scotswoman, she married her husband Jacques, at one point the Mayor of Aÿ, in 1923 who himself had become the managing director of Bollinger Champagne at the tender age of 24. By the age of 42 she was a war widow and it was then that she stepped in, like other famous champagne widows before her, and took the reins of her house and steered it with an eye to perfection and unwavering dedication to excellence and innovation. This is the modern legacy “Madame Jacques,” became known for.

But going back to the previous century, 1829 to be exact, when the house was first formed is really to delve into the annals of international history. Original founder of Bollinger Champagne, Count Athanase de Villermont, was a nobleman and a war hero from the American Revolution. He became fascinated with the wines of Aÿ, Champagne when he inherited an extensive estate in this choice viticultural area of the Marne upon his return to France. The reason why the house did not take the name of “de Villermont” is because, at that time, the French aristocracy were forbidden to engage in trade. So Count Athanase partnered with Joseph Bollinger, a German, and Paul Renaudin, a Champenois.  And thus, on Feb. 6, 1829 a champagne house was born – one that has ever since become synonymous with excellence, quality… and international intrigue (as in, Diamonds Are Forever).

Since 2008 Ghislain de Montgolfier, a great-great grandson of Joseph Bollinger, passed the reins, for the first time in the house’s history, to a non-family member, Jérôme Philipon. In 2007 Ghislain’s great sense of humor coupled with his technical expertise got him elected as Head of the Board of the Union des Maisons de Champagne and co-Chairman of the Comité interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (CIVC).

"I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad.
Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone.
When I have company I consider it obligatory.
I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and I drink it when I am.
Otherwise I never touch it, unless I'm thirsty.
Lily Bollinger,
17th October 1961, Daily Mail

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Yannick Alléno's * 1947 * At Cheval Blanc, Courchevel France

by Paige Donner

  • WHEN: December 12, 2012  until April 7 2013
  • Where:  1947, Yannick Alléno's new Pop-Up Gastronomic artistic culinary odyssey of a restaurant at Cheval Blanc in magical winter playground Courchevel, France

Please find here excerpts from the Press Release with my running commentary in red italics. 

Five Michelin-starred French Chef Yannick Alléno begins his winter season at Cheval Blanc Courchevel's 1947 restaurant when it opens on December 12th. 

[OK, this is the Super-Uber-Chef-Extraordinaire Alléno, the same mastermind behind Terroir Parisien which I wrote about here. Note to self* Find someone to explain to me how a mere mortal (human being presumably) gets 5 (five!!) Michelin Stars. I mean, even one signifies you've walked through a dozen or more culinary rings of fire. Right?]

The wine: creating a closer alliance
Moving away from traditional food and wine pairings, 1947 offers guests an entirely new way of experiencing wine, by blending the DNA and raw materials of the wines with the ingredients of Alléno’s dishes to create extraordinary results. 

A loin of veal  is  marinated in the barrels from Château Yquem and cooked using chalk from the Ruinart quarries, whilst the vegetables are fermented in vine leaves from Krug’s Clos du Mesnil. The serving temperature of Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1996 is regulated; perfectly suiting the artichoke and black truffle…it is with these intricacies that Alléno is laying the foundations of a new modern cuisine

[Wow. Quelle Magnifique. Ruinart Crayères and grape leaves from Clos du Mesnil - love this Cradle to Cradle conceptual approach and implementation. Not to mention Yquem's botrytis sweet-soaked barrels and Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1996. OMG. Amazing! ; ) ]

The product: distilling ingredients to their essence

“The culinary experience involves tasting exactly the right part of each product in 
successive sequences. At the end of the day, cuisine is only a question of concentration, 
and I have tried to extract the quintessence of the product through a selection process 
resulting from a long investigation,” explains Yannick Alléno.
The service: true mise en scene
Bucking the trend of pared-down service, at 1947 Alléno revives this pillar of French culinary history to offer guests a team of experts that echo the quality of the dining. The scene is set with assistants, sous-chefs and wine waiters that ensure that every aspect of the culinary journey is accompanied by knowledge and passion.

[Ahhh. Niiicce. Back to a bygone era... I'm feeling waves of nostalgia for an era I never even experienced.]
Every evening until 7 April 2013, up to twenty five guests will have the opportunity to  experience Alléno’s new culinary  concept – Cuisine Moderne. The master Chef will create French cuisine that fuses proud Gallic tradition with innovative creativity to define this new foundation. Main course is shared by all 20 guests.

[*Note to LFAW readers - please (please, please, please)  send in your impressions if you have the good fortune to enjoy Alléno's 1947 culinary odyssey this winter season in Courchevel.]

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Posted via email from Local Food And Wine

Monday, December 3, 2012

As a Thank You we’re giving you a Holiday Bonus Perk

We’re optimistic that we’ll reach our film production fundraising goal for Wine & Climate Change, but we can’t do it without people like you.  Word-of-mouth and shared links have really helped and we truly appreciate your support.


Yes, that’s right. A Champagne Vacation for two.

To Qualify:
1. Click Like on our Wine & Climate Change Facebook Page. You’ll find it here:
2. Go to and click on Contribute, for a minimum of $20 or higher.  Add in the comments section that you wish to qualify for the chance to win the Champagne Vacation.

It’s that easy. You may contribute more than once to increase your chances.  We will choose One Winner the week of January 16th, 2013. Winner will be chosen randomly.

What YOU Get
A 3-day, 2-night vacation for two to Champagne, France. This includes two nights’ lodging in a luxury residence, a Tour and Tasting at Veuve-Clicquot Champagne Cellars in Reims, France, a visit and lunch to Hautvillers, where the monk, Dom Perignon, first invented champagne.
*Transportation/airfare is not included. Some meals not included. Must be of legal drinking age to participate in the Tasting at Veuve-Clicquot Cellars. Must be 18 yrs. or older to participate.