Dad: “There is this champagne event tomorrow (Monday), do you wanna – ”
Me: “OKAY COUNT ME IN.”
Dad: “… come along. Okay I will get you an invitation.”
(Never turn down when your parents offer to bring you to such posh events, or you will be guaranteed to be missing out on a good eye-opening experience!)
The Veuve Clicquot Winemakers Degustation event was hosted at Maison Francaise in the heart of the city, with the notable French fine dining restaurant set up in white and orange decoration that compliments the colours of the champagne, with photos and brief descriptions of the history of Veuve Clicquot were displayed on the walls of the restaurant. It was an educating night of pairing different food with three champagnes from Veuve Clicquot. I really do appreciate the detailed explanation of each champagne given by the winemaker, Mr. Pierre Casanave, in his rather thick Southern France accent (which is brilliant, nonetheless, considering that I took notes throughout the dinner).
[A little background to champagnes] Champagnes are known to have high levels of acidity and a relatively small amount of sugar and thus they compliment almost any food. I’d say that champagne is relatively easy to drink, probably because of its bubbly nature (which also gets people drunk more quickly, but note that researches differ from one another). Before the degustation event last night, champagnes were only known to me as celebratory drinks; little did I know that they are excellent with food, particularly seafood, salmon, mushroom, risotto and fruits of higher acidity like strawberry. (Well, this explains the choice of food in the 7-course menu for the degustation!)
The Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label is a brut, driest in form and the most popular among champagnes. The Pinot Noir-based champagne is common and very food-friendly, therefore its crisp palate goes really well with almost any type of food.
Personal verdict: I love the forceful flavour and its racy acidity that hits my tastebuds, neutralising the savoury and creamy flavours of the foie gras.
Rosé champagnes are often deemed to be elegant and the colour ranges from baby pink to copper salmon. The Veuve Clicquot Rosé is dominated by the Pinot Noir, maintaining the intensity of the Clicquot roots. The Chardonnay and the Pinot Meunier are added to the blend, giving it elegance and rounding up the flavours respectively.
Personal verdict: I like the fruity taste that lingers behind the intense flavour. For me, the strawberry flavour was more powerful compared to the raspberry and cherry flavour (possibly due to the taste of the very ripe wild strawberries). Mum, on the other hand, tasted more of the raspberry.
The Veuve Clicquot La Grand Dame 2004 has more of the gold and amber colours in comparison to the Yellow Label. It is described to possess a chalky mineral component, finished with a fresh and generous fragrance and hints of a blend of fruits along with mixed spice.
Personal verdict: The La Grand Dame 2004 was my least favourite among the three champagnes, something that I did not quite appreciate. It is most likely due to the lack of a sophisticated palate of my tastebuds for finer champagnes with high complexities of flavours and substance. Nevertheless, it was worth a try; perhaps in time I’d learn to be appreciative of such a prestigious blend.
It was a very exquisite and fresh experience overall. I’d say that I had a good first degustation event with French fine dining cuisine, with first-hand knowledge from the winemaker himself. 🙂
We have the tendency to forget of the little things that we already know of – after all, we are only human. I count myself really fortunate to have family and a bunch of good friends (and in today’s case, one of the people that I look up to!) who would remind me every now and then, reassuring me that we are all fighting the same battle at the end of the day.