Nov 19, 2007

Pairing Heidsiecks

Champagne Charles HeidsieckLast week I attended an unusually fine wine pairing hosted by Champagne Charles Heidsieck. The event was held at Myth, an eclectic French/California Cuisine restaurant near San Francisco's Jackson Square, where Chef Sean O'Brien created four outstanding dishes to complement the four wines served. Here's the lineup:

Champagne Poached Oyster with Kaffir Lime and Uruguayan
Osetra Caviar
with Peeky Toe Crab Salad
with Melon, Mint and Champagne Gelée

Paired with Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

First Course
Mushroom and Nut Dusted Seared Scallops
with Maitakes, Vanilla Butter Sauce and Smoked Sea Salt
Paired with Charles Heidsieck Blanc Des Millènaires 1995

Second Course
Roasted Lobster with Braised Fennel, Bacon, Quinoa,
and a Citrus Tarragon Sauce

Paired with Charles Heidsieck "Champagne Charlie" 1981

Swirled Yogurt and Pomegranate Sorbets with almond Macaroon,
Champagne Quince Cream and Rose Petal Gelée

Paired with Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage by Viktor & Roff

A couple of notes from this exquisite meal:
  • I'd never tasted a champagne older than...well, let's say a decade. "Champagne Charlie," at the ripe old age of 26, was a revelation. This wine has been aged to absolute perfection, along with other great vintages, in the Oenothèque at the House of Charles Heidsieck in Reims, France. It possessed a beautiful golden tint in the glass, and in the mouth offered a rich, balanced complexity.
  • The meal's most memorable moment--for me, at least--was when I held, side by side to the light, glasses of Blanc des Millènaires 1995 and "Champagne Charlie" 1981. In one glass the wine was see-through, with bubbles streaming rapidly upward; in the other, bubbles proceeded topward in a stately, gold-infused procession. I'll leave it to you to figure out which was which.
  • The Rosè Sauvage, which contains a high proportion of Pinot Noir vinified as red wine before its addition to the blend, is packaged in an upside-down manner as if to announce its audacious qualities to the world. The fresh red fruit, heavy on cherries, made it an excellent accompaniment to dessert.
  • I was intrigued to learn that Heidsieck's extensive chalk cellars in Reims had been originally dug by the Romans about 2000 years ago--they used the chalk for building, liming the soil, and I believe it served some artistic purpose as well.

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