by John K. Lindgren
“Champagne is one of the elegant extras in life.” – Charles Dickens
What is it about French Champagne? Why so exclusive? Isn’t it just a white or rosé (pink) wine with bubbles?
Not really. It’s like automobiles; there are many sports cars – but only one Ferrari, one Porsche brand. Something to do with history, legacy and a bit of marketing, too. There are many sparkling wines but only one Champagne by origin, reputation and classification. And price, of course! El Cheapo French Champagne? No have!
Recently Bangkok Champagne aficionados were treated to a memorable Lombard & Cie six-course Champagne Dinner at The Reflexions restaurant, Plaza Athénée Bangkok, A Royal Méridien Hotel. Modern French cuisine in a stylish setting with a five-star menu created by Chef de Cuisine Roxanne Lange. The exclusive importer and distributor of Lombard, G Four Fine Wines and Spirits, Davide Contu Salis, introduces Paul-Henri Perrot, brand ambassador of Maison Lombard & Cie, all the way from France.
Chef Roxanne’s kitchen brigade opens the soiree. Amuse-bouche: Smoked oyster – potato ice cream – caviar. Followed by crispy chicken skin, hamachi, lime and chicken mousse. Gastronomic fireworks! In the Champagne flutes Lombard & Cie Brut Reference. Small persistent bubbles. Good acidity with pleasant yeasty characteristics and toasty overtones. The blend is made of the three classic Champagne grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.
First starter: Hokkaido Scallop, a culinary assemblage of citrus, fennel, red chili and pork belly. The fennel adds a unique licorice-like flavor to this delectable dish. Scallop and Champagne always the absolutely perfect match. Here with Lombard & Cie Brut Grand Cru Millesime 2008. Exceptional vintage. Bright golden color with very fine bubbles. Nuances of almond, nuts, cinnamon and cocoa.
Second starter: Boston Lobster, the culinary pride of New England accompanied by beetroot, goat’s cheese, apple and shallots. Goat’s cheese and lobster? Yes, washed down with Lombard & Cie Brut Premier Cru Rosé. Boasting beautiful pale, salmon pink color. On the palate the freshness of Chardonnay and fine cherry flavors provided by the Pinot Noir. Ample and generous finish. Rosé Champagnes account for between 3 to 5 percent of Champagne’s yearly production.
Before the main course, in between Chef Roxanne Lange surprises us with Duck Liver Scorched, the perfect cleanse palate. A chive, almond and apricot ice cream. Champagne Tanagra Brut Grand Cru (grand cru: a wine of the highest rank or reputation). The elegance of this comes from its three-part balance of minerality, fruit and finesse. Superbly constructed, this great Champagne is tailor-made for haute cuisine like Chef Lange’s duck liver, apricot ice cream culinary creation.
The main course. Drum roll! Quail, black currant, roasted grains, Jerusalem artichoke and quail sauce. Not a mountain of meat but a light, lean serving with delicate game flavor. In the sparkling glasses the cream of the crop: Lombard & Cie Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2004. Exceptional Lombard bubbly made from the best vineyards of only white Chardonnay grapes, hence the name: Blanc de Blancs. Grand Cru Champagne effervescence with remarkable precision and complexity.
The dessert: Pomelo – chili meringue – caramelized peanuts – brown sugar ice cream. Exquisite presentation and finger-licking good with another sip of that sublime fizz. Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs. All the way from the northernmost wine producing region in France called Champagne.
A Lombard & Cie Champagne dinner to be cherished. Affordable luxury at 3,500 baht ++ per person including six-course set dinner plus Champagne paring.
On the shelf at Villa Market and Foodland supermarket French Champagne retail price: 3,900 to 4,000 baht per 750 ml bottle.
Keep a lookout for Plaza Athénée Bangkok wine dinners and G Four Fine Wines and Spirits.