The wine business spoils us. I feel very lucky to have been exposed to plenty of fine dining experiences over my nearly 16 years doing the Champagne buying here at K&L. Often my very favorite experiences are at home… Nothing beats being able to relax and enjoy food and wine knowing that you don’t have to go anywhere except to bed afterwards!
Caviar is an indulgence that I love as much as white truffles and foie gras. It is expensive for sure, but delivers a ton of pleasure for every ounce- and I love the way it goes with Champagne. The pairing is not as straight forward as one would think. Because the roe is rich, a bottle that is fresh and full of good cut and minerality is a must, but austere extra brut styles tend to go metallic and finish short when paired with caviar. The Champagne should have good body as well as creamy qualities from longer ageing on the lees to balance good acidity in order to be a perfect match.
This past week we ordered some paddlefish caviar from Kelly’s Katch in Tennessee. Clyde had recommended Kelly’s years ago to us, and we have enjoyed their stuff immensely. We treated ourselves to a two ounce can and paired it with the newly arrived Le Brun de Neuville "Authentique Assemblage" Brut Champagne ($39.99) which worked out very well indeed. I prepared some buckwheat blini in our trusty skillet (a super easy recipe from the back of this package) and brought home a small container of crème fraiche to complete the caviar kit.
The Le Brun de Neuville is composed of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, all from the village of Bethon in the picture. This is the center of the Sezanne department, a chalk outcrop about 30 miles south of Epernay that seems to be in the middle of nowhere. It is aged for five years on the lees on a cork rather than a cap, so the cork we pulled out before serving it was the 2nd that had been in the bottle. Ageing on a cork like this is a pain- none of the disgorgement lines will accommodate bottles like this, and they must all be disgorged by hand. The benefit is a better exchange with, and a bit of immunization from oxygen.
The five years on the lees gave this wine a nutty creaminess that mirrored the caviar, while the pure chalk soil gave the wine the zip and minerality needed to cut the richness. It was a great way to spend a Monday night! It is too bad that Kelly’s sells out of their stuff so regularly, I would love to order more… But they are out!
A toast to you!