Friday, January 27, 2012

Taittinger Takes Over Hollywood

What am I passionate about in life? Well besides Champagne and traveling to wine countries, my first love was performance so I am a girl who adores Awards Season...and it is upon us and they add a delicious night of viewing beautiful dresses, tresses, awards and a chance to relax with a glass of Champagne!

For the 13th year Champagne Taittinger is the official Champagne of the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The 18th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards are Sunday, January 29th and will feature Taittinger Brut la Francaise during the awards show, backstage in the green room and at the after parties.

Whether you have a coveted invite to a glitzy Hollywood affair or you’re inviting friends over for a fun Hollywood inspired viewing party, popping some popcorn tossed with black truffle salt and a bottle of Taittinger is the perfect way to start the night!

The Screen Actors Guild Awards red carpet will be opened by an official toast, the Taittinger Moment, hosted by Vitalie Taittinger heiress to the Champagne house, who is coming from France to attend the event. The awards air live January 29th on TNT and TBS at 8 p.m. (ET), 5 p.m. (PT).

“Elegance, beauty, and passion define Champagne Taittinger and make the SAG Awards such a dazzling night. We are thrilled to toast to actors-as their gifted performances have the power to move and inspire, like Champagne,” says Vitalie Taittinger.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Adventures in Champagne & Paris with Ruinart Part 2

And now we journey onto Paris...

"Bright and early we all arose and I took one last wander through L'Assiette's beautiful gardens with hopes of someday returning. After a quick train ride (less than an hour) we indeed arrived in Paris and we were giddily off to Laduree for a quick cafe and macaroons (various flavors....rose, violet, chocolate...of which I savored every morsel of!) and were also able to try Canneles, a pastry treat famous in Bordeaux before we were to visit Guerlain practically across the street on the Champs Elysee. Guerlain, which opened in 1914, is a historical fragrance house and we were led through the components that made up their flagship scents such as Shalimar and then elegantly guided through the completed fragrances, some with a seductive swish of black feather fans.

Next off to the George V Hotel to have lunch at Le Cinq. This was especially exciting for me as even before I could ever have dreamed to dine in such a location I have been a fan of world renowned floral artist Jeff Leatham's work and artistry it is indeed. From the moment one enters the hotel brilliant arrays of colorful bouquets are like candy to your eyes. Upon entering the restaurant, Le Cinq, we are warmly greeted and ushered to our table, what was to be our home for the next three hours full of divine wine and food pairings..all which was served to us blindly. Of course we began with Ruinart...1996 Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and throughout the lunch we were also treated to 2007 Château Grillet and a magnum of 1977 Grahams Port among others. We were all in absolute awe and admiration for the finesse, precision and execution that was Le Cinq.

For dinner that evening we went more for a Parisian Bistro style at Bistrot de Paris, passing around dishes and sharing. Although Morgan will say his Pied de Couchon (Pig's foot) was the winner I think Nicole's selection of Steak Tartare was the fresh and with a delicious bite of mustard. From there Friday evening we continued our exploration of Paris hopping to various wine bars. Saturday was a free day allowing more time to venture through the city and I was able to delve into a fantastic farmers market, the Louvre, and finally get to L'Atelier. None of which could have been possible without the generosity and hospitality that was displayed by our hosts.

Thank you many, many times to The Guild, Charlotte Duntze, Dorothy Bakker Lee, Frederic Panaiotis and Julie Murez for such an educational and pleasurable experience!

Adventures in Champagne & Paris with Ruinart Part 1

It seems like just yesterday I was packing and getting ready to embark on a trip of a lifetime, but alas, it has passed but I have my memories, great friends and pictures to remind me...and of course Ruinart Champagne will always be a love of mine! I wrote this essay after I came back from my trip ( I was awarded as the 2011 Chicago Ruinart Champagne Challenge winner) this summer for the Guild of Sommelier's but thought I should share on my blog (In 2 parts...Champagne and Paris) as well..especially so close to Valentine's Day....thought it might offer inspiration!

"There is not many moments in my life where I have been left breathless...this time spent in France however touring and tasting with Ruinart's Chef de Cave, Frederic Panaiotis in Champagne and exploring the artistry and beauty of Paris was one of those moments.
Our journey began upon arrival to Paris' Charles de Gaul Airport as we were greeted by a jolly Frenchman named Jacque who escorted Nicole Burke from San Francisco and Morgan Harris from New York and myself to our hotel in Champagne. Upon arrival to L'Assiette Champenoise, the place where we would lay our heads for the next few nights, which I was absolutely enamoured with (so much that is was truly hard to leave it!) we checked into our rooms, met Dorothy Bakker Lee (Ambassador for Ruinart) and off we went to lunch at Cafe du Palais where we were to meet Fred (Frederic preferred to be called), and the other two Sommeliers Eric Hastings from Houston and Jeff Bencus from Las Vegas.

After lunch, which contained our first delightful taste of Ruinart's NV Brut (not available in the United States...yet!) we continued on our day and ventured to the illustrious Cathedral de Reims, home of over 20 coronations of French Kings. Up, and up we climbed towards the top of the Cathedral giving us a beautiful view of the town of Reims and beyond.

From the Cathedral we ventured to where we were all eagerly awaiting, to the Ruinart Estate and to explore the cellars. Ruinart is the first established Champagne House in 1729. In 1768 Ruinart acquired former Gallo-Roman chalk quarries for the purpose of storing their bottles and is classified as a historical monument. These crayères offer the triple benefit of constantly stable temperatures, absence of vibration and the perfect humidity level. This was indeed our lucky day because Fred also had Master of Wine Essi Avellan, the first Master of Wine from Finland visiting so there were quite a few special vintage wines in addition for us to sample and magnums at that. As the afternoon progressed into evening we were fortunate enough to try an array of Dom Ruinart magnums of both their Blanc de Blancs and Rose.The standouts for me were the 1969 and 1998 Blanc de Blancs and the 1985 Rose which floored me with its complexity and depth.

From there we relaxed outside on the veranda before dinner partaking in one of my favorite, simple, but classic pairings.... NV Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and Gougères. Ruinart has a new event dining room and were were one of the first groups to dine there. Along with the divine meal we were able to chose from the Magnums we tasted earlier for each course. I absolutely agree with Nicole; " The Cheese Cart is a wondrous part of dining, but a Magnum Cart reached unparalleled heights!" After dinner it was time to catch up on sleep and prepare for a day filled with blind tasting and a visit to the CIVC.

Thursday we found ourselves back at Ruinart about to embark on a 6 round flight adventure exploring Blanc de Blancs from all across Champagne. The flights contained an extreme range of styles and vintages (including the oxidative styling of Jacques Selosse) and happily I discovered that even blind, Ruinart's NV Blanc de Blancs was one of my favorites. After a quick, but delightful lunch of NV Blanc de Blancs, Sushi and Macaroons we were off to the CIVC (Comite Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne) where we were given a better understanding of their research, environmental efforts and the region in depth through a presentation in the conference building and then wandering through the glorious colors of the vineyards.... the vibrant shades of green....the crisp white from the chalky soils and the brilliant red of the poppies.

After a magical dinner at Le Jardin Brasserie in Reims the group decided we would grab one more drink at the bar back at L'Assiette Champenoise and what a good decision it was! The old saying "right time, right place" could never have been more true as Olivier Krug and the new President of Krug, Maggie Henriquez were just finishing a dinner for the press and we were fortunate enough to have a glass from a Jerobaum of Grand Cuvee disgorged in1995 courtesy of them. Then we were back to our rooms to pack and prepare for the next day's adventure into Paris..."