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Taittinger

Pop Culture

The Best Bubbly in the Air

March 14, 2012

Virgin Atlantic debuted a glamorous champagne coupe as part of their new Upper Class meal service that began March 1.


Last time I flew on Virgin Atlantic, I remember catching a glimpse of the champagne bar in Upper Class as I trudged to the back of the plane. Now there’s even more to envy: Virgin Atlantic’s new meal service offers retro luxe champagne coupes to serve their Champagne Lanson Black Label.

“We’re very much about trying to make a unique experience,” says Sarah McIntyre, a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman. “People associate glamour with Virgin Atlantic and champagne comes hand in hand with glamour.”

They’re not the only airline flying high with champagne service. Each year, Business Traveller Magazine give their Cellars in the Sky awards to the airlines with the best wine lists. The magazine rates the quality and diversity of wines offered in business and first class flights.

When the 2011 awards were announced last month, Qantas Airlines’ wine list took the most awards, including best First Class Sparkling – and why not when they’re pouring 1999 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne?

Wines served by Cathay Pacific like the 2008 Vincent Girardin Puligny Montrachet Vielles Vignes were ranked highly. And Brazilian carrier TAM’s 2012 wine list turned heads with pours like Champagne Drappier La Grande Sendrée in first class and Drappier Carte d’Or in business class. And airline sommelier Arthur Azevedo has trained flight crew in matching wines with foods too. Maybe someday they’ll pour some Brazilian bubbly on flights.

The magazine rated 250 wines that were entered into the competition by 53 international airlines.

Bubbly Events, Champagne, Drinks

Isn’t it Grand? Champagne Tasting in San Diego

November 13, 2009
champagne_flight_flutes

The Tour de Champagne — a fabulous tasting event that I just attended in Washington DC — hasn’t made its way to San Diego just yet. But we have an annual tasting that’s just as spectacular: Le Grand Champagne this Saturday Nov. 14 at the WineSellar & Brasserie.

This year, the pre-holiday tasting and appetizer pairing will feature 37 different marques (aka brands) of champagne and sparkling wines. They range from wines from small producers such as Charles Ellner and Bruno Paillard (check out the site if you love the movie Diva) to tête de cuvées by well known houses like Taittinger, Bollinger and Moët & Chandon. It’s not just NV brut; there will be several fine rose champagnes, the somewhat elusive Veuve Clicquot Demi Sec and Iniskillin’s amazing sparkling ice wine. Special pricing is being offered on Saturday for people who want to take their favorites home.

Matt Smith, the creative new chef at WineSellar & Brasserie, has created a delicious menu to enhance the different bubblies. Enjoy honeydew and grapes with delicate wines, lavender-scented goat cheese with crisp ones, celery root soup and crispy pancetta to pair with bold toasty champagnes and smoked salmon mousse with brut rosés.

The tasting is from 2 to 6 p.m at the WineSellar & Brasserie, 9550 Waples St. Suite 115 in Mira Mesa. Tickets are $85 per person or $70 for Wine Club members. For reservations and more information, call 858-450-9557.

Sparkling Wine

Meet Winemaker Eileen Crane of Domaine Carneros in San Diego

March 29, 2009
Eileen Crane, CEO and winemaker of Domaine Carneros in the Napa Valley, has been crafting French style sparkling wines longer than anyone else in America.

Eileen Crane, CEO and winemaker of Domaine Carneros in the Napa Valley, has been crafting French style sparkling wines longer than anyone else in America.

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.

Whether the Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs or the Brut Rosé Cuvée de la Pompadour, all Domaine Carneros sparkling wines share a French toastiness and structure balanced by juicy California fruit.

Whether the Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs or the Brut Rosé Cuvée de la Pompadour, all Domaine Carneros sparkling wines share a French toastiness and structure balanced by juicy California fruit.

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!

Champagne, Lifestyle, Pop Culture

Of Spies & Champagne: The Movie Duplicity Sparkles

March 23, 2009
Clive Owen and Julia Roberts play a pair of international champagne-loving corporate spies in the new movie Duplicity that opened March 20.

Clive Owen and Julia Roberts play a pair of international champagne-loving corporate spies in the new movie Duplicity that opened March 20.

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 Moët Grand Vintage Brut and off-dry White Star — keeps flowing in London and Miami, with champagne corks becoming a signal for a rendezvous.

Moet et Chandon Grand Vintage 2000 is one of the champagnes poured in the new film Duplicity.

The assertive and distinctive Moët et Chandon Grand Vintage 2000 is one of the champagnes poured in the new film Duplicity.

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.