The Celebration Candle created by high end NYC floral designer Belle Fleur smells just Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â like a toasty glass of champagne softened with a hint of lily of the valley.
I thought it was just me, since I have a heightened awareness to anything that has to do with champagne. But the latest luxury candle and home fragrance trend is filling the air with the alluring scent of champagne.
The first I noticed was Crisp Champagne by Voluspa, a subtly fresh candle mixed with the scent of ginger and vanilla. It’s pleasant and reasonably priced at around $22 for the full-size, 80-hour candle while votives are just $7.
More recently, I discovered the super luxurious Belle Fleur Celebration Candle, shown at top, created by a floral and event designer in NYC. It goes straight for the toasty, bready aromas that greet your nose when you drink champagne, tempered with a hint of lily of the valley. Bready and toasty make me think of being in a bakery, but the owner of the high end candle shop where I discovered the Belle Fleur candle swears it’s worth the $88 price tag.
Looking further, I found the Bubbly Candle by Flare; this clean-burning soy-based candle that sells for about $24 mixes champagne’s scent the grapey, fruity fragrance of Italian muscat grapes (they’re what make the sparkling wine moscato). Neiman Marcus promises to tickle your note with notes of citrus, ginger and raspberry in their Penthouse Champagne candle, offered at $55. And Nordstrom’s is carrying the Antica Farmacista Champagne Candle; it’s a 25-year-old Italian brand recently revived by a couple of savvy American business women. This $38 candle offers an exuberant burst of fruit and flowers including satsuma mandarin, apricot, lily of the valley and passion fruit.
Winemakers come and go, but few are as worth meeting as Eileen Crane, the winemaker and CEO of Domaine Carneros in the Napa Valley. She’s in San Diego on Tuesday March 31, for a Bubbly Night Out cocktail party and dinner showcasing her sparkling and still wines at The Winesellar & Brasserie.
She’s a font of fascinating historical and cultural information on champagne; she also crafts some of the most distinctive and satisfying sparkling wines made in America. Whether the Brut Cuvée, the dreamy Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs (my favorite), or the Brut Rosé Cuvée de la Pompadour (my other favorite), all the Domaine Carneros sparkling wines share a French toastiness and structure balanced with the ripe juiciness of California fruit. It’s quite something to visit the gorgeous chateau style winery, which recalls the Louis XV style Chateau La Marquetterie near Epernay, France where Domaine Carneros parent company Taittinger hosts its Maison de Champagne receptions.
Crane has been blending fine sparkling wine for 30 years — longer than anyone in the country. She studied nutrition and attended the Culinary Institute of America when she became fascinated with winemaking. So she picked up an enology degree at UC Davis and then made wine at Domaine Chandon and Gloria Ferrer before Claude Taittinger selected Crane to lead Domaine Carneros.
As much as I’m looking forward to tasting her wines, I can’t wait to ask her about the organic cultivation at their estate vineyards. As Crane explains in this Q & A in The Organic Wine Journal, they’ve been quietly working towards the organic certification that their four Carneros vineyards received in late 2007 from the California Certified Organic Farmers. Domaine Carneros sparkling wine made from organic grapes can’t be far behind!
Apparently champagne is the drink of choice among international corporate spies. That’s one of the take-away’s from Duplicity, a new romantic thriller starring Clive Owen and Julia Roberts. They’re former government spies carrying on a secret romance while playing out a high-stakes game of corporate espionage. The pair meets in Dubai, but the romance takes off with an extended tryst in what appears to be a luxury suite at the St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome (it’s really a space at Convent of Sacred Heart in NYC). The champagne — mostly the bold Moet Grand Vintage Brut and off-dry White Star — keeps flowing in London and Miami, with champagne corks becoming a signal for a rendezvous.
Duplicity was written and directed by Tom Gilroy, who wore the same two hats on the superb and dark movie Michael Clayton, also about corporate spying – but with less champagne. Duplicity is fast-paced and fun, with a rising tide of dramatic and romantic tension that at turns reminded me of the films Prizzi’s Honor, The Thomas Crown Affair and The Sting. Even at the dénouement, there’s Dom Pérignon. It’s a lovely piece of product placement, which adds to the plot and underpins the ideal of the glamorous life.
But spies and fine champagne have gone together ever since Ian Fleming created the archetypal international spy James Bond. The literary Bond drank Taittinger, but it hasn’t been featured on-screen since the Blanc de Blancs was sipped in 1963’s From Russia With Love, according to the site Atomic Martinis, which chronicles every ounce of booze consumed in James Bond films. Over the years, the cinematic Bond has been torn between two loves: Bollinger and Dom Pérignon. According to luxury site Bond Lifestyle, Sean Connery turns up his nose when offered Dom ’55 instead of the ’53 in Dr. No; Roger Moore’s Bond comments that the villain in The Spy Who Loved Me can’t be all that bad if he serves Dom Pérignon ’52 and Moore wishes he had been greeted with a Dom ’62 instead of ’64 when he gets busted sneaking onto the villain’s private island in The Man with the Golden Gun.
In Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan’s Bond pushes a button on the dashboard of his Aston Martin to open a compartment with a bottle of Bollinger La Grand Année 1988 and two flutes. Daniel Craig, the newest Bond, sips Bollinger in both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace which is available on DVD March 24.
Sooo sorry for the long wait for the actual Perfect Beauty cocktail recipe, but I have been having such a good time soaking up with culinary and wine culture of the Salentino in southern Puglia, Italy for the past 10 days – more on that soon. Plus I was waiting for the professional photo from my good friend Bob Stefanko of Ranch & Coast Magazine.
Preston Bailey, the world-renowned floral and event designer, was feted at the home of Susie Spanos when he flew to California in early March to speak at a benefit for the Village Garden Club of La Jolla. I designed a custom floral cocktail called Perfect Beauty with fresh California strawberry juice and rose geranium syrup for the party.
I was really thrilled to see that most of the guests were sipping my cocktail when I arrived at the party just after sunset. But I was ecstatic when Bailey raved “Delicious, delicious, delicious!” when he tasted a Perfect Beauty made with sparkling water. He then insisted on getting some of my rose geranium syrup, which I promise to send as soon as I get home.
Makes 1 drink
1/2 ounce fresh pressed strawberry juice, seeds removed
1/2 ounce rose geranium syrup (From The Bubbly Bar)
4 to 5 ounces chilled champagne or sparkling water
pink and gold edible flower petals
Add strawberry juice and rose geranium syrup to a champagne flute. Top with chilled champagne or sparkling water. Garnish with edible flower petals and serve.
When I heard that Preston Bailey, the famous New York City floral and event designer, was coming to San Diego for a benefit and private party at Susie Spanos’ home, I knew I had to create a signature sparkling cocktail in his honor.
His web site calls him the world’s preeminent designer and it’s no exaggeration: he does parties for celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, the royal family in Abu Dhabi and one secret client who dropped $25 million on a soiree.
Bailey’s speaking before the The Village Garden Club of La Jolla as a part of the high powered group’s Meet the Masters series. He’s appearing at 1:30 Thursday; proceeds from the $65 tickets benefit the Club’s Schoolyard Garden Project. He’s also offering a sneak peek at his gorgeous new book Celebrations that’s being released by Rizzoli in the fall.
I adore flowers so much there’s a whole chapter of floral drinks in my new cocktail book The Bubbly Bar. I knew I had to design a floral drink for Bailey since he’s synonymous with lush and fabulous floral designs. He’s also famous for the whimsical sculptured floral dogs like the ones above. And I knew I wanted it to be pink.
First I created a delicious drink named Vintage Rose with a rose petal syrup I creation, but decided it wasn’t quite original enough.
Then I thought of my syrup made from rose geranium leaves, which offers a tantalizing floral note along with a lemony freshness. Since the menu focuses on great regional foods like spiny lobster, upscale fish tacos and Chino farm vegetables, I decided to pair it with the new season’s fresh strawberries that are so delicious.
Check back for pictures from the party and the recipe to make your own Perfect Beauty.