An evening with Champagne Taittinger

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.rose.rabbit.lie Taittinger_Tasting_Las_Vegas_Rose.Rabbit.Lie.Kobrand.Wirtz

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.

Taittinger_Tasting_Wirtz_Las_Vegas_Kobrand_Champagne 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:

ttg_Brut_LAF_btl 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.

ttg_Folies_btlLes 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.

ttg_Comtes_Rose_btlComtes 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.

 

ttg_Comtes_Blanc_btlComtes 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.

Many thanks to Wirtz Beverage Nevada and Kobrand Wine & Spirits for a night of “curiosity, discover and participation” with Champagne Taittinger

Summertime Rosé Wines at Marché Bacchus

Rosés are a masterful match for almost any dish. These wines are versatile because they fall in between the extremes of red and white — less intense than a big, tannic, mouth-busting red, but with a little more depth than a super-light white.

I recently enjoyed a special lunch prepared by Chef Luciano Pelligrini at the quaint Marché Bacchus French Bistro in Las Vegas.  The luncheon was accompanied by a sampling of rosé wines  presented by John Matthew Smith, a well-known wine authority of Wirtz Beverage Nevada. All the wines were rosés – dry, refreshing, absolutely riveting – from places that beautifully express their terroirs.

In addition to the line-up was a sweet surprise, which wasn’t a rosé at all.  It was a German riesling that paired nicely with dessert.

Marché Bacchus luncheon feature summer wines.
Marché Bacchus luncheon featuring summertime wines.
Lettuce Wedge Salad, heirloom tomatoes, red onion, bacon and blue cheese dressing.
Lettuce wedge salad, heirloom tomatoes, red onion, bacon and blue cheese dressing.
salmon_Marche_bacchus_las_vegas
Pan-seared Scottish salmon with roasted tomato sauce and ratatouille.
Creme Brulee_Marche_Bacchus
Crème Brulée

 

Rueling_rose_Wirtz_Beverage_Las_Vegas
Reuling Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2013 is enticed with passion fruit, strawberry compote, earth and slight mineral edge.

Below is a list of wines that were poured during the luncheon. What’s truly special about Marché Bacchus, besides the waterfront patio setting, is the wine shop, which boasts over 950 different labels of American and International wines.  Any of these wines are available for purchase, to be taken home, or enjoyed with your dining experience at Marché Bacchus.

While rosés are great suggestion for warm weather, don’t let temperature dictate what you enjoy; they are perfect year-round.  Enjoy!

Champagne Ayala Rosé Majeur
Le Grand Courtâge Brut Rosé
Pierre Boniface Les Rocailles Apremont 2013 (Savoie)
Chateau de Calavon, Coteaux d Aix-en-Province Rosé 2013
Domaine De La Bastide Blanche, Bandol Rose 2013
Chateau Beaubois Costieres des Nimes Expression Rose 2013
Domaine Collotte, Marsannay Rosé 2013
Reuling Vineyard, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2013
Albert Bichot, Savigny Les Beaune Rouge AOC 2011
Chateau du Donjon, Grande Tradition, Minervois 2011
Dr. F. Weins-Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett 2013

San Francisco designer Tawnya Falkner moved to Nuit St. Georges in Burgundy to follow her passion relating to travel, food and winemaking. The result in Le Grand Courtage, a new gold-medal winning French sparkling wine.
San Francisco designer Tawnya Falkner moved to Nuit-Saint-Georges in Burgundy to follow her passion relating to travel, food and winemaking. The result – Le Grand Courtâge, a new gold-medal winning French sparkling wine.

 

Marche_Bacchus_wine_shop_las_vegas The wine shop at Marché Bacchus French Bistro.

Burgundy tasting with Clive Coates in Las Vegas

Clive Coates, MW (Master of Wine), one of the world’s leading wine authorities and also known for his books about Burgundy wines, led a Burgundy tasting in Las Vegas hosted by Wirtz Beverage Nevada.  Held inside Wirtz’s Alchemy Room, a cutting edge beverage education and development lab, the tasting featured a flight of red and white wines by Albert Bichot and Louis Jadot.

I was honored to be in the same room with this well-known British author and lecturer, who is so respected around the world.  Coates published THE VINE, an award-winning independent fine wine magazine from 1984 to 2005. Read by oenophiles the world over, THE VINE received numerous awards, including a special commendation for its “considerable contribution to the knowledge and understanding of wine” from the Wine Guild of Great Britain. Coates, who holds a lifetime of distinguished activity in the field, has been recognized by the French government, which awarded him the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole. He has also been honored with a “Rame d’Honneur” by Le Verre et L’Assiette, the Ruffino/Cyril Ray Memorial Prize for his writings on Italian wine, and the title of “Wine Writer of the Year” for 1998/1999 in the Champagne Lanson awards.

Clive_Coates_Burgundy_tasting_Wirtz_Beverage

In Burgundy’s 138-mile span from Chablis to the southern limit of Beaujolais, the climate and soils vary greatly.  But, what all the subregions have in common is fidelity to the two main grapes of the Burgundy region -Chardonnay and Pinot Noir- and hands-on approach in the vineyard and cellar.

John Smith, a fine and rare wine expert at Wirtz Beverage is also a long-standing member of The Chevaliers du Tastevin, the most exclusive wine society in the world.  He spent a lot of time in Burgundy during the same time Coates would be visiting properties to write his reviews.

“I find that he [Coates] encapsulates the people and their life with great accuracy,” says Smith.   “He has the singular ability to translate the passion of the vignerons over multiple generations. His writing has a gentle elegance that emphasizes the life and passion of a small, yet extremely diverse lifestyle. More importantly when he taste wines, he comments in such a way as to bring the wine to life.”

It is Smith’s hope that through this tasting, we learned that unlike many winemaking regions of the world, nowhere else has the passion for the terroir and the wines produced. Certainly, Coates, who resides in Burgundy, brought this famed region directly to us that day.   He presented a magnificent combination of history, science, anecdotes and judgments, mixed in with the occasional phrase he likes to use: “a jolly good wine.” Lucky for us, he referred to some of these wines as such:

BURGUNDY WHITES

(CHARDONNAY)

Louis Jadot Chablis 2012

Louis Jadot Santenay, Clos de Malte Blanc 2012

Louis Jadot Mersault 2012

Louis Jadot Chassage Montrachet, Morgeot Blanc 2012

Clive_Coates_

 BURGUNDY REDS

(PINOT NOIR)

Bourgogne Pinot Noir Secret de Famille 2012

Albert Bichot Savigny-les-Beaune 2012

Albert Bichot Beaune Clos de l’Ermitage 2012

Pommard Clos de Ursulines, Domaine du Pavillon 2012

Gevry-Chambertin Les Murots, Domaine du Clos Frantin 2012

Clive_Coates_Wirtz_Alchemy_Room_Pinot_Noir