As magical as it is to open any bottle of sparkling wine, opening a big bottle of bubbly when entertaining makes an even grander statement. Whether it’s a magnum that holds the equivalent of two regular bottles of wine or a massive 4-bottle Jeroboam, bigger bottles are a smart and easy way to please a crowd.
Looking back on bottles of bubbly with friends over the years, the larger format bottles seem to stand out. We celebrated wrapping up shooting for my book The Bubbly Bar with a magnum of Veuve Clicquot; I remember sharing the same wine with Tony Hawk and his friends at a party in his oceanview backyard. Krug’s rich and toasty Grande Cuvée flowed freely from magnums at an over-the-top press trip to show off the brand’s custom hot air balloon.
The cool thing about larger bottles is that ounce for ounce, they’re no more expensive than the 750s. And besides their impressive size, larger format bottles win in the taste department when compared to the usual 750 ml bottles. I learned this lesson after a long and windy drive up to Mendocino County to visit Roederer Estate. The tasting room hosts pour their non vintage brut from a 750 ml bottle and a 1.5 liter magnum and letting guests taste the two side by side. The wine from the 750 was deliciously crisp and bursting with fresh green apples; the same wine from the magnum had these richer, toasty notes that usually are found in a wine that’s much older and more expensive.
Krug’s Grande Cuvée tastes even better when its poured from a magnum.
Some fun larger bottles to try include Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut, the nearly organic Drusian Prosecco, Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut and Joy!, a sparkling wine from Iron Horse that’s aged for 10 to 15 years. It’s only available in magnums, to make sure there’s enough liquid happiness to go around.
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.
Eva Longoria and Tony Parker were among the celebrities at Cannes 2009 who signed a 15 liter bottle of Moet et Chandon Brut Imperial champagne to be auctioned for charity. (Courtesy photo)
Champagne is one of the ultimate luxury goods and it’s associated with celebrities and rich people living the good life. But the large champagne houses also do a lot to bring attention and dollars to deserving charities.
At the 62nd film festival recently, Moet & Chandon carried on a tradition of having celebrities sign a massive bottle of champagne. The 15-liter Nebuchadnezzar (named after the famed kind of Babylon) was signed by celebs including Scarlett Johansson, Diane Kruger and Eva Longoria as they stopped on the red carpet.It will be auctioned off for charity later this year.
And just this weekend, the Veuve Clicquot Manhattan Polo Classic on Governor’s Island in New York City drew a star-studded crowd that included special guest player of Prince Harry of England. The Prince was there to help support Sentabale, a charity that Prince Harry co-founded with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to help African orphans and vulnerable children. Lesotho has about 200,000 orphans and the third highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Africa. After a successful documentary that showed much of the unfunded volunteer work being done in Lesotho to help children, the princes decided to form the professionally-run charity called Sentabale, which means “Forget Me Not.”
Prince Harry said he was pleased to be able to carry on his mother Diana’s work to help people affected by AIDS and to do so in a city that she loved.
Prince Harry during a visit to Lesotho Africa to support Sentebale, the charity he co-founded with Prince Seeiso. (Courtesty photo)
“The prince and I both lost our mothers when we were very young,” Harry told a pre-match VIP gathering, according to an account on the Associated Press. “We set up Sentebale in their memory, and because my mother loved this city, it makes this occasion all the more poignant for me.”