Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

A bit of indulgence … reporting on fabulous Veuve Clicquot Champagnes with fine food

In my article in The Journal today I had no space – or maybe it would have been an indulgence too far – to describe the matching of rare Veuve Cliquot champagnes with food. On 16 November I was privileged to be invited to dinner at The Manoir de Verzy with François Hautekeur, one of the Veuve Cliquot team of winemakers and Edwin Dublin of Berry Brothers, like me a national finalist in the 2009 Champagne Ambassador’s Award.  With a risotto with cèpes and a fillet of line-caught sea-bass, we were treated to Veuve Cliquot’s Vintage Réseve 1982. It was disgorged in 1989, a blend of around fifty base wines, one third Chardonnay to two-thirds Pinot Noir. A deep coppery gold it had an amazingly intense bouquet of brioche and caramelised sugar. Through fine, persistent bubbles the flavour, which was gentle, rich and dry had refreshing hints of pink grapefruit. It was superb with the risotto. The fish, fine in itself, was almost a garnish too far.

And then with pigeon breast seared with honey and served on a bed of sweet roasted winter vegetables and a hint of truffles we enjoyed Veuve Clicquot Rare Vintage Rosé 1985, which had been disgorged just three years ago. This extraordinary wine has a low dosage – just 5 grams/litre sugar. The blend from 17 Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages is dominated by Pinot Noir (49% – nevertheless a lower proportion than usual) with Chardonnay (36.5%) and Pinot Meunier (14.5%). Still pink tinged, with copper, it was elegant and very rich with fresh acidity and the delicate flavour of preserved red fruits – remarkable for a rosé of such an age. It was a superb partner for the food. Not only did it stand up to the robust flavours of the dish, but its own flavour was undiminished. After cheese (Mimolette) with Vintage 2002, about which I wrote in my Journal piece, we finished the meal with a pineapple, tonka bean and passion fruit dessert with Veuve Cliquot’s Demi-Sec. This has a dosage of 45 grams/litre sugar. François insisted that it was decanted to lower, he said, the appearance of acidity in the wine. It worked!

The whole dinner was a rare and memorable treat. And if it was rather an indulgence to write about it I apologise, but I also hope that it illustrates again, just what a fabulous food wine champagne can be: far more fun, I think, than just as a drink on its own. Happy New Year!

One Response to “A bit of indulgence … reporting on fabulous Veuve Clicquot Champagnes with fine food”

  1. David Savage says:

    If these were the Champagnes had during Christmas dinner they were fantasitc. If a bit much in one sitting…