This month I am joining the French #winophiles, a group of French wine loving friends, as we discover and learn more about Champagne. Join the conversation every third Saturday on Twitter at 11:00 a.m. EDT using hashtag #winophiles.
Champagne has evolved from being perceived and marketed as a luxury product with consistency to being a wine not just for celebrations or special occasions, but also with a sense of terroir and diversity.
Champagne was the beverage of the French Sun King, Louis XIV and his court at Versailles. The Champagne of Louis XIV’s day was quite a bit sweeter, light red in color not to mention, bubbles were not desired. It would be the English preference for bubbles (18th century) and a drier style (late 19th century) that would change that culture of Champagne to what it is today.
Champagne has also evolved from being just an apéritif to the perfect pairing with a wide range of foods like: fried foods, egg dishes, puff pastry, moderate spicy foods, salty, cream sauces and soft cheeses. The bubbles, acidity and low alcohol help balance richness, spiciness, and saltiness. This too is why Champagne has evolved from being just for special occasions to a wine that can be paired with a range of everyday foods.
The history of making Champagne has been one of blending from a number of villages, grape varieties and vintages. The Grand Marques like Bollinger, Charles Heidsieck, Taittinger and Veuve Clicquot to name a few have blended to achieve a certain style and consistency. But a growing trend is “Grower Champagne.” A Grower Champagne is produced by the estate/grower from grapes grown in their own vineyard reflecting a sense of terroir and vintage variation. The result is smaller quantities often producing a Champagne with more complexity and diversity.
I was curious to try a Grower Champagne. I found a Pierre Péters Cuvée de Reserve Blanc de Blanc – Brut Grand Cru Non-Vintage 100% Chardonnay.
My Tasting Notes:
Pale gold in color with a slight green hue. A beautiful steady stream of tiny bubbles. On the nose is citrus and green apple. On the palate lemony, pear, brioche, briny minerals. A lingering smooth finish with a nice creamy mouthfeel.
Food Pairings: A frittata with vegetables, feta and dill – the creaminess of the eggs and salty feta was a beautiful pairing. The Parmesan cheese crisps – the salty with the crispiness paired nicely with the acidity and bubbles. Finally, cilantro lime shrimp – the sweetness and spicy in the shrimp were a nice contrast again with the acidity, bubbles, and also the low alcohol.
Frittata with Vegetables, Feta, and Dill
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 onion diced
- 1/2 teaspoon + Kosher salt
- 1 medium carrot peeled and shredded
- 1 medium zucchini shredded
- 8 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped
- 6 tablespoons crumbled sheep's milk feta
- black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- With a 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, grease a 8" X 8" ceramic baking dish.
- In a large sauté pan heat the remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, sauce for about 4 minutes. Add the carrots and another pinch of salt, continue to sauté for 1 minute. Add the zucchini and another pinch of salt and sauté for about 2 minutes. Put the vegetables in the ceramic baking dish in an even layer. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, 1 tablespoon water, dill and salt and pepper. For egg mixture over the vegetables in the baking dish. Crumble feta over the top evenly.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until center is just set.
- Cool for a few minutes and cut into squares. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Cilantro Lime Shrimp
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup orange marmalade
- 3 large garlic cloves finely minced and mashed with 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
- 1 lb large 16-20 count shrimp, shelled and deveined
- In a measuring cup whisk together all the ingredients except the shrimp. Reserve 1/3 cup in a small bowl for dipping.
- In a large sealable plastic bag combine the shrimp with the mixture and marinate chilled for 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and then parchment paper.
- Drain the shrimp and lightly pat dry. Arrange the shrimp in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast for 8 minutes, turning the shrimp half way through the baking time.
- Serve hot or at room temperature with the dipping sauce.
Check out my fellow French winophiles and their blog posts on Champagne
Savor the Harvest, “Explore Champagne from Beginning to Bubbly Finish”
The Swirling Dervish, “The Enduring Allure of Champagne”
Culinary Adventures of Camilla, ” Toasting Seventeen Years with Möet & Chandon Impérial Brut Champagne”
Wine Predator, “Women in Wine: Floriane Eznack, Cellar Master, Champagne Jacquart”
FoodWineClick!, “Everyday Celebration with Champagne and Curried Shrimp Salad
Enofylz Wine Blog, “Under $30 Vintage Champagne? Our!”
L’Occasion, “Bernard de Nonancourt of Laurent – Perrier: Champagne Résistance Fighter”
Sources I consulted for this blog post:
“Independent” – Grower Champagne: What is it and how is it made
Wikipedia – History of Champagne
“But First Champagne” by David White
“Perfect Pairings” by Evan Goldstein