Let’s face it. I’m no Joan Miro. Which is why I’m always so impressed by the creative and artistic abilities of others. But lately, I’ve been making the attempt – to sketch while I sip.
Here I was, taking notes of the many different wines along the way, when I suddenly started to notice that words on paper alone weren’t actually helping me remember what it was that I had tasted.
I can usually recall the occasion and the company with which the wine was shared (“A toast to new friends!”) I also typically remember the food that accompanied it. (“Remember that incredible pot roast we made…?”) But after a while, some of the basic information just starts to fade (“What was the name of the producer again?”)
So, one day I started sketching the label alongside my notes. Oh, I don’t spend too much time on it (as you can see). But, it seems to be just enough time to take notice of a few key visual characteristics. This helps me remember. My olfactory and gustatory senses are working all the while, of course 🙂
You see, unlike a sommelier or a wine merchant who handles bottles upon bottles day after day, I only get to see and/or taste a wine sometimes only once. And, I’ll also add that the wine app that allows you to snap a photo of the label wasn’t helping me too much, either.
So, if you see me take out my little red notebook, don’t judge. I’m studying wine by smelling, tasting, doodling … and now remembering! It’s old school, but it works.
Rose.Rabbit. Lie., a modern supper club inside The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, was given three distinct names that would convey a unique meaning to each person who entered. Unlocked by three simple words, the name acts as a personal riddle or prophecy. The unique logo is in a shape of a key, which loosely conveys membership and exclusivity, while the three turns in the key coincide with the triplet name and intertwines dining, drink and entertainment concepts.
It’s a place of curiosity, discovery and participation.
Such was the case on that September evening in Las Vegas at a Champagne Taittinger tasting event held at Rose.Rabbit.Lie. I was invited by Peter Johnston, Director of Sales, Fine Wine Division, of Wirtz Beverage Nevada, to experience Taittinger in a social setting among an intimate group of about 40 influential wine professionals.
Inside a cozy, walnut wood-paneled lounge bar called the Study, a relaxed ambiance set the tone for a convivial vibe. Live music, light bites and good company created a unique communal setting to taste and discover Taittinger’s more casual side.
Champagne Taittinger (pronounced tet-ahn-zhay), is one of the few remaining family-owned and operated Champagne houses. The estate is one of the three most extensive in the Champagne region of France, with vineyard holdings of 752 acres, including prestigious Grand Cru vineyards in the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims regions. Unlike most large houses, Champagne Taittinger relies primarily on estate grapes for its portfolio of Champagnes.
Taittinger is situated above miles of chalk tunnels and cellars. These 4th century Roman cellars once belonged to the Benedictine monks of the abbey of Saint Nicaise and are perfect for the slow ageing process required for great Champagne.
Unique to Taittinger are the higher proportion of Chardonnay in its wines that gives Taittinger its signature style – elegance, finesse, and delicacy. This has earned the House worldwide recognition and accolades over the years. Also, the time devoted to aging the wines before release – most often greatly exceeding the legal requirement – is a practice that has become a Taittinger hallmark.
What we tasted that evening:
Taittinger Brut La Française
A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier wines from at least 35 villages. The high proportion of Chardonnay (40%) is unique among fine non-vintage Champagnes. The presses are located in the vineyard for immediate pressing of the fruit after the manual harvest, and the resulting must is cold fermented under temperature-controlled conditions. After resting until the end of winter, the wine is blended, and then the final cuvée undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle in Taittinger’s cool cellars. The aging of Brut La Française on the lees for almost 4 years more than doubles the legal minimum of 15 months. This extra time in the cellars allows the wine to reach the peak of aromatic maturity, and the result is a delicately balanced Champagne, known for its consistently excellent quality.
Les Folies de la Marquetterie
This single-vineyard cuvée is produced exclusively from grapes grown at Les Folies, a Taittinger-owned vineyard with a south/southwest exposure in the heart of the Champagne winegrowing region. A green harvest ensures that the final harvest has optimum sweetness and aromatic maturity. Only wines from the first pressing are used and each plot is vinified in small volumes, with certain lots in large, old oak casks. Slow aging for five years in bottles brings the flavors of this Champagne to perfect harmony.
Comtes de Champagne Rosé The Comtes Rosé is made from 100% Grand Cru grapes and produced only in exceptional years. The Chardonnay grapes come from the most renowned vineyards of the prestigious Côte des Blancs, and the Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims. Only juice from the first pressing is used in order to ensure the structure and long aging potential that is so essential to this exceptional Champagne. 12% of the Pinot Noir is blended in as still red wine.
Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Produced only in exceptional vintage years and intended as the ultimate expression of the Taittinger style, this wine is composed entirely of Chardonnay grapes grown in the top vineyards of the prestigious Côte des Blancs. Only the first press juice is used. A small proportion (5%) of the blend spends three to four months in new oak barrels, enhancing the intrinsic qualities of the final blend. Prior to disgorgement, the Blanc de Blancs is aged for 10 years on the lees in 13th-century chalk cellars that were once the property of Saint Nicaise abbey.