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A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a Veuve Clicquot luncheon. Being the “bubble head” that I am, I jumped at the chance to try through this prestigious collection. The luncheon, designed to showcase Champagne’s ability to be a versatile and fun wine, took place at famed and uber-delicious Ocean Prime.
As we entered the dining room, we were given a glass of the Non Vintage Brut. To be quite honest, I often try to sway my customers away from the mass market appeal of the better known mid-range bottles. Since there are so many unique Champagnes out there, why stick with just one?
Where Clicqout is concerned, the answer is consistency, heritage, and reputation. This tasting reminded me that craftsmanship and quality are the reasons Veuve have become the world’s most recognizable Champagne. Does the construction-cone-orange label help? Sure, but year after year, it’s the balance of fruit and acidity that makes Veuve Clicquot my top seller.
Veuve Clicquot NV Brut “Yellow Label” – The flagship Champagne of the collection, I found the yellow label to be more full bodied than I remembered. Ripe tree fruits like pear and apple are apparent on the nose and palate with medium acidity on the finish. The appetizer of Asian Calamari, Crab Cakes and Goat Cheese Ravioli complimented the Champagne very well. The fruit cooled the spicy Calamari, while the acidity cut through the creamy quality of the Crab Cakes and Goat Cheese.
Veuve Clicquot NV Rose – Pretty pink/peach in color, the Non Vintage Rose expresses soft round strawberry and raspberry. This blend includes 50-55% Pinot Noir giving it the berry flavors, 15-20% Pinot Meunier for structure and color, and 28-33% Chardonnay for the biscuity, supple finish. Ocean Prime paired this with She Crab Bisque with a Crab Fritter.
Veuve Clicquot Vintage 2002 Rose – Beautifully bright salmon in color, with a nose that expresses rose hips and wild strawberries. The 2002 vintage was ideal with low rainfall resulting in little more fruit and intensity in flavor. Full bodied with a long finish this Champagne was paired with the She Crab Bisque as well, but held up to the next course of Surf and Turf.
Veuve Clicquot Vintage 2002 Brut – Featuring toast and ripe pear on the nose, complemented by a palate consisting of baked pears and apple pie, with nice creamy bubbles and medium acidity, this golden Champagne was my favorite of the luncheon! Just a hint of lemon curd lingered on the finish. Ocean Prime paired it with Pan Seared Scallops in a Mustard Cream Sauce and Fillet Mignon in a Peppercorn Sauce with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus.
La Grande Dame 1998 – Toasty, with ripe baked apple, candied citrus rind, and almond on the nose and palate, boasting a hint of minerality to round out the finish. The acidity of the La Grande Dame was more bracing than the Vintage Brut, adding to its complexity. This Champagne had the structure and acidity to stand up to the Fillet Mignon. With nearly two-thirds of the La Grande Dame being Pinot Noir, the aging ability is extensive. I have enjoyed the 1989 Vintage of La Grande Dame and suggest that the bottle aging calms the acidity and produces a rounder flavor.
Vueve Clicquot NV Demi Sec – Lightly golden to the eye, this demi sec has a nice amount of candied fruits and brioche on the nose. I have always liked this particular sweet Champagne because the acidity is high enough to make the wine well balanced. Ocean Prime finished the lunch by pairing this sparkler with Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake.
So next time you are thinking about what wine to pair with dinner, instead of thinking red or white, why not try bubbles?