Showing posts with label Champagne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Champagne. Show all posts

Friday, December 1, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Hollywood Babylon

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week, we have a trio of movies that expose the soft underbelly of Tinseltown, our own private Hollywood Babylon. And what Babylon would be complete without a wine to go with it? We suggest pairings for each of these films. 

Blake Edwards earned a place in my heart with his 1981 film, S.O.B. I believe it has brought me as much laughter as Blazing Saddles or Fargo, or One, Two Three, which is saying a lot. The movie pokes deliciously dark fun at the workings of Hollywood. There is the director, who goes nuts while making a movie. There is the studio, which wants to salvage what they see as a flop coming down the road. There is the editor, who can't wait to take his scissors to the film. There is the doctor, who, well, opens the next fifth of vodka. 

Robert Preston is a revelation in S.O.B. My history with doctors is checkered. Dr. Whitepockets never wrote a prescription. He just pulled a sample pack of pills from his labcoat and handed it to me. Dr. Insult never saw an infirmity that didn't make him laugh. His hallmark line: "Yeah, it sucks getting old." Dr. Dental finagled insurance companies like a body shop owner. They were practically paying me when he was through with them. But Preston, as Dr. Irving Finegarten, delivers a career performance and steals nearly all the best lines in the script. 

Oh, right, like some desperate winemaker would dare to slap the letters S, O and B on their wine label. Wait a minute. There happens to be one right here. SOB is a kosher wine from Israeli winemaker Ya'acov Oryah. He blended Carignan, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Grenache grapes into a wine which, he must have felt, could only be described by those three letters. Maybe they mean something else in Israeli. Anyway, it’s a $60 bottle. Standard Operational Business.

The 1950 classic, Sunset Boulevard, shows us how cruel Tinseltown can be. Fading silent star Norma Desmond lived in the fantasy that she was still the greatest movie star of them all. She hired people to tell her that she was still all that and a tub of popcorn. Her world view was summed up with, "No one ever leaves a star. That's what makes one a star." If you leave the wrong star, you could end up face down in the swimming pool. Warren Zevon wrote about Hollywood. "Heaven help the one who leaves."

Norma Desmond would accept nothing less than a good Champagne for her good times. When she’s ready for her close-up, she’ll take a bottle of Moet AND a bottle of Chandon, thank you kindly. The Imperial will do, if you have nothing better. 

From 2019 we have Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. You know it's a fairytale from the title, so there is little surprise that one of the more tragic events of Hollywood history gets rewritten for a happy ending. Not to spoil, but the baddies get theirs in true Tarantino fashion, with one going out in a real blaze of glory. 

I would like to have known TV Bounty Hunter Rick Dalton. He seems like he would have been a great guy to have a beer with, even if the "beer don't need no buddy." His pal, driver and body man Cliff Booth, I'm not so sure about. He seems like a guy on whose good side you want to stay. I don't think I would go spear fishing with him. 

There is a fair amount of drinking in this movie. For the pairing, Rick will have a Whiskey Sour and Cliff will down a Bloody Mary. But a wine pairing for Once Upon is a tough call. The film was set a few years before Napa Valley found its way onto the world wine map, and there was still something called California Burgundy. But maybe Rick picked up a Barolo or Chianti while he was off doing Spaghetti Westerns and brought some home on the spacious jet airliner. 1969 vintages will run upwards of $150. Or, you could just make a blender of frozen margaritas. It's a long movie. 

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Monday, July 11, 2022

Offbeat Champagne

The Monthuys Pére et Fils Rèserve Brut Champagne is an unusual blend of Champagne varieties - 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Meunier grapes - gives this sparkler a special nose and palate. Maybe this Marne Valley product isn't for everyone. My wife's judgment: "I hate it." Me, I like wine that is a bit offbeat, so it's right in my wheelhouse.

The Baron family owns the estate, relative newcomers in the Champagne biz. They've been at it for only a couple of decades, according to the website translator. Alcohol rests at 12.5% abv and the wine retails for less than $30.

This wine's golden hue owes something, no doubt, to the three years of bottle aging it underwent. Its nose is rather brash, probably owing to the Meunier-heavy blend. Apricot aromas dominate, with apple and toast following. Apple comes across strongest on the palate, with an earthy sensibility layered over it. The finish returns the apricot flavor. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Champagne For Celebrating - Or Not

I had a bottle of Delamotte Rosé Champagne all ready to celebrate the Houston Astros 2019 World Series victory.  That did not materialize, but since it had been on ice since game seven's 4th inning, I enjoyed it anyway.  That's what I get for planning a celebration too early.

Delamotte is a small Champagne producer which works under the eaves of the House of Laurent-Perrier group.  The House of Delamotte was founded in 1760, and is the fifth oldest in Champagne.  They are located in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, which their importer describes as one of the most prized Grand Cru Villages of the Côté des Blancs. 

For this pink sparkler, Pinot Noir grapes were sourced from Grand Cru vineyards on the South-East slopes of the Montagne de Reims - namely Bouzy, Ambonnay, and Tours-sur-Marne.  The Chardonnay grapes were picked in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger.  The wine was made in the saignée method to achieve just the right tint and the two wines were co-fermented.  Alcohol hits the usual 12% abv and it sells for around $75.

This Champagne looks rosy-pink in the glass and offers aromas of ripe cherries, strawberries and toast with a hint of earthiness.  The palate is a creamy delight.  A slight tartness balances the sweetness of the fruit, while a yeasty note hangs in between.  The acidity is great, and the bubbles are festive while they last.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Drinking Someday's Wine Today

Champagne is largely considered by ordinary folks to be a "special occasion" wine. Usually, Champagne is rather costly. Finances unfortunately play into the notion that a pricey bottle should be saved for another time. Get something under a screw cap for today. After all, we have to drink tomorrow, too.

This fine bottle of bubbly was given to me as a birthday present several years ago. We were holding on to it for a very special occasion. We asked ourselves recently, "What is more special than today? How many more tomorrows can we count on?" Instead of holding it back for some special day that - truthfully - might never come, we popped the cork and enjoyed the moment that is now. We think it was a wise decision.

Moët et Chandon is the biggest Champagne house in France, founded in 1743 by Claude Moët. Best known for their top-shelf brand, Dom Pérignon, Moët made White Star as a non-vintage Champagne. It was discontinued in 2012, replaced by the Imperial label which has been around since the 19th century. I understand that White Star was a bit sweeter than the super-dry Imperial, which sees a more restrained dosage - the introduction of sugar into the fermentation process.

The nose is yeasty and a little bit funky, with the smell of a wet sidewalk after a rain wafting in late. Flavors of peaches and apples strain to be noticed above the minerals and toasty notes. It is not bone dry, but the sweetness is quite restrained and the acidity is a notch right over "zippy." This is how - for me, anyway - Champagne is supposed to taste.

Pair what you like with it - rare tuna, potato chips, wedding cake, the dessert tower - or light up a big fat Cuban cigar with a hundred dollar bill and blow smoke onto the poor folks. Or, just pour, toast and sip. Cheers.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Jacquart Champagne

As October turned toward trick-or-treat, I was treated to a small tasting of Champagnes from Jacquart of Riems, France.  The tasting took place at one of my favorite Los Angeles cheese shops, Artisan Cheese Gallery on Ventura Boulevard, so the treats were plenty.  Mrs. Now And Zin sent me there with instructions to enjoy the tasting and don’t come home empty-handed.

Jacquart’s head winemaker, Floriane Eznack, was quoted in The Drinks Business when she joined the house in 2011, “My role is not to make a big change but to define the style and stick to it.”   The style, as she defines it, is smooth and textured, with a focus on bright acidity.

The Mosaic Collection was introduced to mark Jacquart’s 50th anniversary.  It’s a fine tribute to the house, if the three wines I tasted are an indication.  Any - or all - will be welcome at holiday festivities of any sort.

Floriane Eznack, photo courtesy
The Brut Mosaique sports some flinty toast aromas along with apples and pears. Three grapes are used, Chardonnay (35-40%), Pinot Noir (35-40%) and Pinot Meunier (25-35%). There is a minimum of 20% reserve wine in the mix, which receives a light dosage and more than three years of aging.  Flavors are toasty, with apples and lime zest leading to a rich, long finish.  It’s the flagship Jacquart cuvée.

For the Jacquart Rosé Mosaique, Pinot Noir - vinified as a red wine - brings the color and structure, while Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier play their roles, too.  This pretty wine brings a funky, toasty quality on the nose, with red fruit smelling very nice.  Great acidity makes the sip quite refreshing, while flavors of toasty cherries and strawberries are a delight.

The Jacquart Blanc de Blancs 2006 vintage shows apple and citrus on the nose, with a lovely palate of lemon peel and a slight hint of toast.  All Chardonnay, the wine leaves me wanting more, with a beautiful expression of creme brûlée on the finish.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Tasting Panel Champagne Event 2012

During the holidays, everyone wants to talk about the bubbles.  And why not?  What’s more festive than a flute full of stars?

The Tasting Panel magazine stages a little Champagne event each holiday season, and this year’s event depicted Editor-In-Chief Anthony Dias Blue as a Photoshopped elf.  I couldn’t stay away.  I attended the Los Angeles event on December 13, 2012 at Waterloo and City, in Culver City.

I’m glad I didn’t stay away.  I don’t drink a lot of sparkling wine throughout the year.  At the event, I happened to mention to a colleague that “I’m not a sparkling person.”  Taking the cue, she replied wryly, “Yes, we’ve noticed that about you.”  Nevertheless, I do like a chance to taste a number of good sparkling wines side-by-side.

Some of the bubbles poured are extremely affordable - some are in what you might call the “special occasion” category.  Here are a few I found interesting, with the prices taken from the sheet that was handed out at the door.

Frank Family Vineyards 2008 Blanc de Blancs ($45) - Most interesting, with some funky aromas and flavors of burnt toast and herbs.

Domaine Carneros 2008 Brut ($27) - This was the least expensive wine poured at the event, and it’s one of the best.  Frothy and funky with fine bubbles and a toasty palate.

JCB 2007 #9 ($48) - Nice bubbles lead to a crème brûlée nose and an edgy palate.

Ferrari Perle 2006, Metodo Classico, Trento DOC, Italy ($35) - This smells dark and brooding, but tastes earthy and fruity. 

Schramsberg 2008 Blanc de Noirs ($39) - Lovely toasty flavor.  Their ‘09 Blancs de Blancs wasn’t bad, either. ($37)

Champagne Paul Goerg 2002 Brut ($40) - A little light on bubbles, if that sort of thing matters to you, but a nose of caramel toast and a candy apple finish makes up for it.

Champagne Henriot Millesime 2005 ($99) - Almost without bubbles when I got to it, but great, earthy toast on the nose and palate.

Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2002 ($58) - Funky toast on the bouquet, with crisp golden apple flavors following.  

Champagne Paul Goerg 2000 Cuvée Lady Brut Vintage ($95) - An earthy, funky nose, fantastic bubbles and a toasty palate.

Champagne Gosset Grand Millesime 2000 ($100) - Aromas of Sweet Tarts and a really nice apricot flavor seem at odds, but it works.

Champagne Perrier-Jouet 2004 Belle Epoque ($130) - The most expensive wine I tasted at the event is elegant, toasty and fruity - it has it all.

All the Champagnes priced at over $100 showed characteristics worthy of note, although many of the wines at the lower end of the price spectrum displayed much more bang for the buck.

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Monday, January 10, 2011


The Sparkle In Sparkling Wine

What puts the sparkle in sparkling wine?  The short answer: carbon dioxide gas.  But a half dozen French scientists and all the Pommery champagne they could sample offer a few sidebars to this fact.  This information comes from a story in the Montreal Gazette .

This research - did they know they'd get a gig like this when they signed up for science? - shows that the main thing that makes those bubbles disappear is the act of pouring the wine into the glass.

Pouring sparkling wine into the glass so that it hits the bottom of the glass actually promotes the dissipation of bubbles.  If you want the nose tickles to last a while, the guys in the lab coats say you should pour it gently down the side of the glass.  That results in twice the bubbles of splashier methods.

The study also found that using a tall, narrow flute instead of a wide champagne glass will help preserve the bubbles longer.

Finally, the scientists advise us to serve the sparklers cold - there's something about density and surface tension which is enhanced when the wine is refrigerated.

Keep these items in mind when breaking out the bubbly and you'll be ready for the champagne lifestyle.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Taittinger Champagne

People always say we should drink Champagne everyday.  “Why wait for a celebratory moment to come around?” they say.  “That glorious pop! should be business as usual!”

Maybe the problem is, we're just not celebrating enough.  I am reminded of the old joke in which the notorious drunk tells someone he only drinks on special occasions, then takes a swig.  “What's the occasion?” asks the foil.  “Tuesday,” the drunk replies.  But why not make a few more occasions “Champagne special?”

I received news recently after an insurance adjuster examined my car.  He told me the damage wasn't extensive enough to justify making the car a total loss.  The first sound heard was me saying, “Yesssss!”  The second was a cork popping out of a split of Taittinger Brut.  Let the celebration begin.

You probably know that Champagne is from France - from Champagne, France.  That's why it's called Champagne.  Other bubbly wines from other places are called other things.  Sparkling wine, Prosecco, Cava and spumante are all perfectly wonderful bubblies.  For some, though, only  Champagne will do.

The Taittinger Brut La Francaise in a non-vintage wine made from 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir grapes.  The fruit comes from around 30 different vineyards.

It's quite dry, as you would expect from the word “brut” in the name.  Pale in the glass, the wine appears as a soft straw color with a layer of pure white bubbles on top.  The bubbles are very fine and quite long-lasting.

Aromas of earth, minerals and toasted bread come forth.  The taste is no-nonsense crisp, with green apples and citrus zest most apparent to me.  It's a full, pleasurable drink that feels good in my mouth.  If it's possible for a Champagne to have too many bubbles, this may come close to that mark.  It's flavor and texture is rich and the finish is long.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Blue Top Champagne Brut

There was a bit of a cause for celebration at our place recently.  Oh, OK, I'll tell you.  We have an App for iPhone and iPodTouch in the iTunes App Store!  It's called Dr Insult, and you can click the link to find out more about him if you like.  If you'd rather read about the Champagne, that's what follows.

If you've been making Champagne since 1785, you must be doing something right.  Actually no longer owned by anyone related to Florens-Louis Heidsieck, Heidsieck & Co. makes what many consider to be one of the better Champagnes available at an affordable price.  The Monopole Blue Top is a non-vintage bubbly at 12% abv.  

The sparkler pours up a lush golden color in the glass, with plenty of tiny little bubbles.  The nose carries a yeasty scent, but it does not cover up the floral and fruit components.  The yeasty funk rides along as an equal partner in this bouquet.  I smell pears and candied apple, too.  The mouthfeel is just gorgeous - silky smooth and creamy, with not a trace of carbonation.  It's a full-bodied Champagne, too, offering plenty of heft along with some tantalizing flavors.  Heath bar and toast come to the forefront for me, with apples and a trace of citrus following.  A toasted candy profile lingers on the finish.

Variety:  70% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier
Appellation:  France > Champagne
Vintage:  NV
Alcohol Level:  12% abv
Price:  $16 (375ml bottle)
Acquisition disclaimer:  Purchased by the author

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne NV Brut

Denise and I opened a small bottle of Feuillatte "1/4" I had picked up recently.  I've seen it in various stores this season, usually near the checkout stand as a point-of-purchase item.  The bottle is only 187ml, so I suppose they are marketing them as stocking stuffers.  Neither of us drink a lot of sparkling wine, so the size was great for us to just sample it.  It pours out to about a flute and a half.  I've seen it listed at $10, but I got it for $4 at a sale.  As you can see in the image, there is also a rose version.

 We wanted to pair the Feuillatte with some cheeses we had picked up at the Beverly Hills Cheese Shop and Andrew's Cheese Shop in Santa Monica.  It was a chilly night, the Christmas tree was fully lit and decorated and White Christmas was on TV.  A perfect night for some Champagne and cheese.

Feuillatte is the number-one selling brand of Champagne in France and number-three worldwide.  They are now being distributed in the U.S. by Washington's Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.  To say Feuillatte is a large producer is an understatement.  From the press release: "With the support of its 5,000 wine growers, the Centre Vinicole-Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte benefits from an extensive and rich supply of quality grapes, representing 7% of the Champagne wines produced."  

The grapes used in this bottling are 20% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 40% Pinot Meunier.  There is an extremely yeasty nose, almost barnyard-like in funkiness.  The mouthfeel is full and creamy with plenty of small bubbles which persist for a long time after pouring.  There's a lemon zest component and the flavor of almonds.  The wine gives me the feeling of ginger ale.

The Feuillatte went very well with the creamy Minuet cheese by Andante Dairy.  The dairy recommends a Chenin Blanc from Vouvray or a Gruner Veltliner, but this Champagne was quite serviceable with it.  It fit even better with Truffle Tremor cheese by Cypress Grove Chevre out of Arcata, CA.  The real discovery of the night was finding that the Truffle Tremor went great - scratch that - fantastic with Liqueur de Chataigne, or chestnut liqueur.