No wine in history has spawned such poetry as Champagne. Even though Dom Pérignon did not invent Champagne he was certainly among the first to poeticize it by exclaiming to his fellow Benedictine monks, “Come quickly I am tasting the stars!” Since the 17th century the world has been in a love affair with Champagne. This month the love affair spreads through our Winophiles group as we explore the beauty that is Champagne!
Typically when we explore a wine region I like to give you a brief look at the history, culture, foods, etc. Not this month! This month it is all about that glorious tiny bubbles of heavenly delight and the way we love it!
The good news of Champagne never ends. According to The Telegraph’s article “The Five Surprising Health Benefits of Champagne,” the daily consumption of Champagne will improve five key areas of your health including memory and heart improvement, gets you drunk quickly or at least goes to your head faster (not sure how that is health benefit), it improves your skin AND Champagne has fewer calories than beer or still wine! Additionally, Health.com reports “the polyphenols (plant chemicals with antioxidant properties) in bubbly help lower your blood pressure” which in addition to reducing the risk of heart disease it also reduces your chance of having a stroke. So drink up friends!
My Champagne selection for this article was influenced by one of my fellow Winophiles. In mid-November Martin Redmond, Enofylz Wine Blog, and I were part of Snooth’s Wine Writer Round –Up article “Special Occasion Wines Worth the Splurge.” The wine I selected for December’s French Winophiles was Martin’s “splurge” wine recommendation. I love Champagne but I do know nearly as much about it as I would like to know. Martin, not only knows a lot about Champagne but traveled to the region on a media tour last fall. Here is the wine Martin recommended:
Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2006 Champagne: This wine was crafted of 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay cultivated from the heart of the historic Champagne hillside of the Louis Roederer estate vineyards Cumières, Hautvillers, and Vertus. It poured a glistening gold into the glass and met nose initially with an intense minerality that gave way to tart Granny Smith apples, green pears, lemon zest, marzipan, a touch of baking spice, roasted hazelnuts and crisp buttered toast. The delicate perlage created a mouse like texture on the palate that was complex and energetic with layers of flavors and bone-dry acidity; focused yet dynamic. It was a dazzling Champagne that delighted the senses with a refined elegance. This Champagne was awarded 93+ points from the wine world’s top reviewers. I will definitely buy it again! SRP $89.
The Brut Nature is simply the consequence of the exceptional substance of the wine, of this creamy, coated, velvety note, which requires no dosage. And which reveals the wine in all its purity. — Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Cellar Master
This Champagne was born from the collaborative efforts of Frédéric Rouzaud and Philippe Starck over time and through many discussions, resulting in the embodiment of three truths as described by the Louis Roederer web site:
~Authenticity and Truth are emphasized by the distinctiveness of a producer’s wine, resulting in an unusual and summery vintage, from a unique soil—clay and stony —characterized by optimal maturity.
~Abstraction is a difficult notion to translate into technical reality, but we aim to refine and simplify our processes in various ways: harvesting the estate’s vineyards on the same day; blending all the grapes directly on the press; removing minimal sludge and encouraging spontaneous fermentation; avoiding chaptalization; ensuring that 100% of the fermentation process occurs in wooden tanks; allowing the wines to age over a long period, without racking (soutirage), and ensuring they are produced in accordance with biodynamic rhythms.
~Elegance is reflected in the quest for optimal purity through a balanced proportion of around 2/3 Pinot noir and 1/3 Chardonnay, an absence of malolactic fermentation, a soft and sensual effervescence, and no dosage.
The Brut Nature 2006 cuvée is the fruit of several convergences: between a historic terroir and a remarkable year, and between a Champagne House that respects nature and a creative genius with a free spirit. — Frédéric Rouzaud, Managing Director of Champagne Louis Roederer
Personally, because I love acidity so much, I found it an elegantly pleasing wine to sip by the fire and enjoy the holiday season. However, for most it is likely a wine to pair with food. Therefore my proper Winophiles food pairing began with hors-d’oeuvre tray of boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce, marcona almonds, smoked gouda pimento cheese spread and a creamy, slighty sharp French cheese called Meule De Sovoie Herve Mons. Our dinner consisted of salmon cakes with roasted carrots and parsnips (my new fall food crave) and Israeli couscous with roasted butternut squash and dried cherries. All the foods paired well with the Champagne. The creamy texture of the cheese and cheese spread and the salmon cakes with the rustic nature of the roasted veggies blended beautifully with the Champagne. The shrimp provided an acidic cohesion with the wine that was delicious. Additionally, a Champagne as “meaty” as the Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2006 would pair well with beef tenderloin with creamy peppercorn sauce, roasted Cornish hens and mushroom risotto (which I wanted to make but did not want to confuse countries!)
However, because I enjoyed the Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2006 Champagne over the course of a couple of days my second night pairing was truly my favorite and in no way is in line with the elegance of our French Winophile group!
This fantastic Champagne can be found at your favorite local wine retailer and online. Please visit the Louis Roederer web site to learn more about this beautiful wine.
Please continue to explore the wonderful Champagne region by seeing what my Champagnes fellow Winophiles have discovered:
My Song Selection: Relax, grab a glass of Champagne, invite your friends over, light a fire and turn on some great Christmas music and enjoy the holiday season!
Get your own bottle of Louis Roederer Brut Natural 2006 Champagne and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!