Sunday, 28 September 2008

Epernay - Avenue de Champagne Part 1 - Comtesse Lafond

We arrived in Epernay on the train from Paris in the late evening. Followed by a quick check in to our hotel, a Kir Royal and dinner.

Saturday morning greeted us with blue skies and sunshine. After a hearty breakfast of hot chocolate and pain au chocolate we headed for the Avenue de Champagne.

The fine houses if Pol Roger, Mercier, Moet & Chandon and Perrier-Jouet line this elegant avenue. Walking, chatting and enjoying ths sunshine we admire the architecture that surrounds us. Eventually we reach the round about the depicts the end and the pavement disappears. The last house we see has the sign Comtesse Lafond. The building is impressive with grand turrets at one end. A small discreet sign points us in the direction of the "boutique."

Inside the 2 tasting tables are occupied, we peruse the surrounding shelves in delightful surroundings. We are approached by a very smart young man who takes through a description of each of the champagnes on offer and leads us upstairs for our tasting. The ceiling is cream with sturdy wooden beams arching across. It's quiet with a n occasional burst of noise from a song bird.
Tasting 1
Extra Brut (NV) 12.5% (Pinot Noir 60% and Chardonnay 40%)
To look at - it's crystal clear with lots of lovely fine bubbles, light straw yellow.
On the nose - elegant and fresh, aromatic fresh white fruits - peaches and melon with a hint of citrus.
To taste - dry, with a great fizz on the tongue that lasts, the freshness is delicate and it has a well balanced finish
All in all a lovely fresh experience.
Tasting 2
Brut (NV) (40% Chardonnay, Pinot Noir 40%, Pinot Meunier 10% and wines in reserve from the previous 2 harvest 10%)
To look at - deeper yellow but still quite a pale gold. Bubbles seem smaller and linger for longer.
On the nose - more toasty, buttery, nutty with a yeasty touch. It's just as fresh with underlying citrus fruits
To taste - again a fresh tasting fizz, it's more rounded and fuller than the extra brut almost creamy and the fruit is riper to taste than on the nose. It has a grand finish.
Tasting 3
Rose Brut (maceration of Pinot Noir, mixed with wine created from 20% Chardonnay)
To look at - lovely fresh salmon pink, fewer bubbles.
On the nose - sweet fresh red fruits, strawberries & raspberries
To taste - fruit flavours continue on the palate but takes on hints of fresh black fruits too
Tasting 4
Brut Vintage 1998 - (60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay with a weak dosage of liqueur)
Just released after 10 years of cellaring.
To look at, pale gold/green with few, fast moving bubbles.
On the nose - caramel, butter, popcorn, toast, lemons, peaches and apricots all fighting for attention
To taste - Nice initial gentle fizz and a balanced sweet taste at first followed by dried fruits. It's smooth and elegant.
I know, I know! I loved them all. For an every day, friendly summer wine, the Rose is perfect. For something a little more interesting and perhaps for a special occasion the vintage is just great.
The bad news is that they only have an importer in Dublin. You can order direct but the minimum order is 36 bottles - maybe not such a bad thing............

Chateau Laville - Sauternes 2003

I received this as a gift some time ago and have been waiting for the right opportunity to open it. Such an occasion occurred when friends J&J came over for dinner. A rather fine mackerel pate, followed by a sea food paella was nicely finished off with french style home made tarts (purchased from Clarks in Bruntsfield).
Sweet pastry, sweet apple and a coating of syrup was crying out to be accompanied by the Sauternes.

It's clear and sharp, a deep golden colour with tears that cling to the sides of the glass.

On the nose, a clean pronounced aroma, fully developed of cinnamon, honey, lychee, apricots and raisins.

It has a luscious feel and the palate fills with honey, nutmeg and stewed apricots.

"It's like drinking apricot juice but boozy with honey" commented J1

A delightful match and delightful end to the meal.

The Shore - Edinburgh

After a 17 mile cycle ride we felt a little treat seemed in order. So we decide to venture across the city to Leith and to The Shore ( A delightful little restaurant/bar in the heart of this bustling area.
The evening felt strangely warm, probably due to the rather atrocious summer we have experienced this year. There were many people sitting outside and taking a stroll along the cobbled streets of the shore.
The dark wood panelling and soft lighting of the small bar area has a welcoming atmosphere. We choose a table for two set against the mirrored back wall that provides deceptive size to this small area. The dark wood panelling extends ornately around the bar area providing an interesting back drop to the rows of wine bottles. The same menu as the restaurant is available (the restaurant is fully booked) and offers a range of good home cooked food.
I peruse the wine list looking for something light, simple and refreshing on a warm evening.

Castelle Boglione - Pinot Grigio 2007 £14.99
Provincia di Pavia
Lombardy is situated in north central Italy. I've tasted sparkling wines from this area (mostly pleasing) but never a pinot grigio.
To look at - it's hard to say in the subdued lighting
On the nose - floral, elderflower, ripe pears
To taste - Citrus, lemon but savoury too.
It's a simple wine with soft flavours and a medium length. It goes well with my risotto.