Becks & Posh is the host for Wine Blogging Wednesday #25 with the theme of Champagne, with an emphasis on some of the smaller producers in the region as well as a suggestion to attempt to pair the selected Champagne with food.
For those readers who aren’t familiar with Wine Blogging Wednesday, it is a monthly event started by Lenn from Lenndevours that is hosted by a member of the wine blogging community with a different theme selected by the host each month. I believe I am hosting next months Wine Blogging Wednesday #26 – the theme for the event will be announced shortly.
I was contacted by Neil from the excellent food for thought blog after the announcement for WBW #25, asking if I would be interested in doing a joint entry of sorts with us both tasting the same Champagne along with a food dish of his creation. I thought that this was a great idea and was very interested to see what disparate or similar conclusions we would come to about the wine and the food pairing.
The Food: I’ll let Neil talk about the recipe for his Fish and Shellfish medley for the most part, but I obtained my seafood from the Sydney Fish Markets in Pyrmont (a highly recommended place to visit for lunch and to acquire fresh seafood) and I used Ocean Perch, New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels and Queensland Scallops.
The Wine: When Neil sent the list of Champagne that he had access to, one name immediately caught my attention – Egly-Ouriet, one of my favourite producers in Champagne. The wine that he listed was the Grand Cru Cuvee Non Dose NV which is a wine from the Egly range that I haven’t tried before (I have spoken about other Egly-Ouriet wines here, here and here).
Egly-Ouriet is one of the growing number of family owned grower-producers in Champagne making a name for themselves and taking on the big Champagne houses. Unlike many of the big houses who may not own the majority of their vineyards and source their grapes from multiple growers, a grower-producer has control of the grapes from start to finish. This means that the style of the wine may not be as consistent as the large houses, but the wines can often show more personality and character as well as reflect the season and vineyard variations. Of course these traits could also be negative, so it can be important to choose your grower carefully.
We both purchased the wine and found that it has undergone a name change to V.P Extra Brut Grand Cru NV. The wine is from 100% Grand Cru designated (the highest quality designation) vineyards in the Ambonnay sub-region of Champagne.
The VP stands for Vieillisement Prolonge (prolonged aging) and refers to the 70 months that this wine spends on lees before final bottling.
Extra-Brut (Extra-Dry) indicates that the wine has not been dosed with sugar syrup as frequently occurs at the last stage of the Champagne winemaking process before bottling in order to balance sweetness and acidity. Wines that do not receive dosage usually have under 2 grams of natural residual sugar per litre (compared to a maximum 15g per litre for wines that are just labelled Brut).
As the NV (Non-Vintage) designation indicates, this wine is a blend of multiple vintages and this particular bottling/disgorgement is comprised of 50% grapes from the 1998 vintage, with the remainder coming from the 1995, 1996 and 1997 vintages.
|Variety: 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay
Region: Ambonnay, Champagne
Disgorged: May 2005
Wine Tasting Note: Mid-golden in colour with a mellow bead and a very light mousse. The nose exibits aromas of freshly baked bread, brioche, toast, peaches and pear. A beautifully balanced, medium intensity palate with textured, layered fruit depth and vibrancy yet with excellent aged complexity simultaneously. The acidity that one would expect to show in a non dosed wine is present and is tightly focussed across the length of the palate, the quality and purity of the fruit is so good that the acid shows no signs of being overbearing. It has wonderful palate length leading into a finish that lingers with you for some time afterward and leaves you wanting more.
The Food Match: This wine paired exceptionally well with my attempt at Neil’s recipe. The subtle seafood sweetness of the fresh fish and scallops provided an interesting counterpoint to the wine, with each lifting the positive attributes of the other. The sauce was delicate, but enhanced and brought out the flavour of the fish. I thought this an excellent example of the benefits of carefully selecting food to match the wine and vice versa.
Conclusion: A genuinely classy wine and a simple to make but delicious dish. Both the wine and the meal were enjoyed greatly. The wine receives a score of 93/100. Neil’s summary, along with some great photos is here.