Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, winter, spring, summer, or fall, Champagne (aka that sparkling wine from Champagne France) is a wine that pairs with any occasion or event, and it is one of the most versatile wines you’ll find.
Seven Fun Facts about Champagne and what makes it special and unique.
This month, with the French Winophiles food and wine group focus on Champagne and as March is Women’s History month and we are featuring influential women in wine like Erica Crawford of New Zealand’s Loveblock, Lisa Anselmi of Italy’s Anselmi Wines, it made sense that today we’d choose a wine made by Floriane Eznack of France’s Champagne Jacquart (read about the Brut Mosaique).
I had the good fortune to meet Champagne Jacquart head wine maker Floriane Eznack at a press lunch at Ocean Prime in Beverly Hills Fall 2015 and heard her story first hand. Born in Cognac and classically trained including a four year stint at Verve Clicquot, Floriane came to Reims at 30, and has been making wine at Champagne Jacquart since 2011. She is rare for her age as well as one of only a few women cellar masters of Champagne.
a youthful winemaker for a youthful wine house: Champagne Jacquart is just over 50 years old
As she describes it, Jacquart is all about the “mosaic” of grapes that make up these wines: various cooperative growers in the region working together to grow the best fruit for her to select and combine and create a series of top notch quality wines. She has a wealth of fruit to choose from: the 1800 growers that make up the cooperative provide her with a wealth of fruit allowing her to provide a range of wines from the well-priced Brut Mosaique (around $35) to her “baby” the 2006 Cuvee Alpha which commands all of the best fruit and a fair amount of her attention and imagination as well (just over $100, and yes as a quality vintage Champagne, THIS is a wine you could cellar for another five years for sure). With 50% Chardonnay grapes from Premiers Crus and 50% Pinots Noir from the Mailly and Verzenay Grands Crus on the Montagne de Reims, you can imagine this one is really really good.
- Raw Oysters on the Half Shell
- Bread and Brie and other cheeses
- Lobster Cakes on a bed of greens with aoli made by Sue
- Quiche with shrimp, emmentaler, spinach, broccoli
- Strawberry salad with blueberry feta, walnuts, champagne vinaigrette, on a bed of field greens (depending on the number of people over, this would also be good with seared ahi and that would pair well with the rose as well)
- Fresh Strawberry Pie with marscapone for dessert
This was a quite simple meal that can be prepared in advance and enjoyed any time of the day.
Champagne Jacquart – a Reims France -Brut Rose – 12.5% $55 SRP
This is a really remarkably balanced and beautiful wine… We love this wine because it is a gorgeous shimmering rose gold color, it has plenty of florals and fruits notes plus round fruit flavors on the palate, and it pairs so well with food.
Made from a blend of 34% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir (18% of which is red wine to give it the salmon color), and 21% Pinot Meunier with 25-35% reserve wines, this non-vintage brut was matured on lees for 3-4 years with a dosage of 8- 10G/L. They suggest cellaring for 1-3 years, and while you can cellar it longer, it’s not going to improve with age, so why not enjoy it soon after you purchase it and learn from my lessons?
Strawberry is first and foremost evident on the nose and the palate, but other fruits and flowers are available as this subtle yet fragrant wine opens up to reveal other red berries like raspberry and red currant with these fruits plus lingonberry on the palate. The pelage or bubbles are finely textured and persistent as is the fresh, cleansing finish.
The cellar master Floriane Eznack says of her Rosé: “An apéritif for 6pm, under a blue sky with good friends a «life in pink» I love this delicious palate… Cherry, licorice, rose. Enjoy with sushi.”
With the oysters, there is an umami – the sensuality between the richness of the oyster and the texture of the bubbles, the silkiness that makes the pairing so magical. The salinity in the oysters with the fruit of the particular oyster from washington has a particular meaty quality so the sparkling wine is refreshing with the oyster.
With the quiche of shrimp, mushroom, spinach and broccoli and aged emmenthaler – We placed fresh tomatoes, and spices on top of the quiche. If you do not season the quiche or if the top of the quiche does not look too good, then make a toping, drizzle it with olive oil and balsamic.
This is an awesome brunch fare, great paring with the champagne. the nuttiness of the cheese just bounces of the yeast in the champagne bringing out very nuanced flavors, the almonds, it is very complementary, brings out the nuttiness in the wine. The butter in the crust brings a beautiful flavor balance. The tomatoes bring out the fruitiness in the wine. The sweetness of the shrimp ( and you could use crab too) brings out the sweetness in the wine. This is a very nice food wine. You can drink it alone, you can have this wine any where! Great brunch menu, or Sunday whatever: a celebratory wine.
Shrimp Quiche for Champagne
Quiche is such a great meal no matter the time of day and so easy if you buy a crust! Just remember to defrost it… In ours, I sautéed 4 mushrooms in butter and basil, added 1/2 C of already cooked shrimp, the placed in bottom of pie crust, then added a handful of broccoli and a handful of spinach. I crumbled 8 ounces of emmentaler on top. Separately, I heated to scalding 2 C milk, and whisked 4 eggs, then combined the eggs and the milk and poured over the vegetables, eggs, and shrimp. Cook for 50-65 minutes at 350. Slice cherry tomatoes and place on top; drizzle a little oil and fresh ground pepper and salt.
Regarding the lobster cakes with lemon aioli, if you buy good quality crab cakes that are fresh and have never been frozen, don’t use the cocktail sauce that comes in the package, make your own sauce.
Sue’s Easy Aoili
- 1/3 cup mayo
- juice of one lemon
- fresh cracked pepper
- clove of one grated garlic
- 1/4 tsp – chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
A little bit of tarragon goes a long way, but it works beautifully with the yeasty characteristics of the champagne. I would have put tarragon in the quiche but ran out of time to go snip some from the garden!
Note: I bought this wine at the Ventura Cave for $45; I have received a sample of this for my review in the past along with the Brut. Also please note that this lunch with Floriane Eznack, Cellar Master of Champagne Jacquart was compliments of Champagne Jacquart.
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French #Winophiles 2017 Champagne Exploration
To a Winophile, Champagne is…
…crafted uniquely, from start to finish, as Lynn from Savor the Harvest reveals in her post, French #Winophiles Explore Champagne From Beginning to Bubbly Finish.
…dynamic and constantly refreshed, as Jane from Always Ravenous examines in her story, The Evolving Culture of Champagne .
…always enchanting, unfailingly attractive. Lauren from The Swirling Dervish writes about The Enduring Allure of Champagne.
…consistent and timelessly refined. Camilla from Culinary Adventures of Camilla shares a special perspective in her piece, Toasting Seventeen Years with Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut Champagne.
…food-friendly, approachable and versatile, as we’ll learn from Jeff at FoodWineClick! in his story Everyday Celebration with Champagne and Curried Shrimp Salad.
…affordable and surprisingly accessible, revealed as Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog answers the question Under $30 Vintage Champagne? Oui!
…worth fighting for, as Jill from l’Occasion learned from the story of Bernard de Nonancourt of Laurent-Perrier: Champagne Résistance Fighter.