The Champagne buying job at K&L is a good one and I am so happy to being back to fit enough to do it properly. Cinnamon and I were invited to a great dinner at Tamarine Restaurant in Palo Alto by Romain Pianet who manages the US market for Charles and Piper Heidsieck last week, and once again I was blown away by the wines. Romain was in town for the Oscars, as Piper Heidsieck was selected as the official Champagne this year, and made it up North to check on the San Francisco market with brand ambassador Kyle Kaplan and salesman extraordinaire Mr. Scott Winkler.
The high end Vietnamese cuisine of Tamarine is magic with Champagne, and I have been lucky enough to be invited to several dinners there including a very memorable meal with Moet winemaker Elise Losfelt. We started off the evening with the Charles Heidsieck "Rosé Reserve" Brut Champagne ($69.99) and got caught up. One of the best pieces of news that I heard from Romain is that prices will not be going up on Piper and Charles. The rose reserve was in a round and charming style, but had the chalky spine to balance out the extra richness. The Champagne had ripe dark cherry flavors and a supple texture… I need to drink this more often.
For appetizers we had the Tamarine Taste and some of the crab and garlic noodles and Romain poured the 2002 Piper-Heidsieck "Cuvée Rare" Brut Champagne ($144.99) to go with them. This wine showed even fresher than the last time I had it in August, and this new disgorgement must be at a lower dosage than past releases. It went very well with the variety of flavors on the table, showing as well with the spring rolls as it did with the beef and papaya salad. I found it graceful, bright and airy with more vivacious youth than one would expect for a 13 year old wine, but still filled with complexity when studied.
I had a very good pork dish (it was its last night on the menu!) for my main course, while everyone else went with fish. Romain served up the 1995 Charles Heidsieck "Blanc des Millénaires" Brut Champagne ($169.99) which is still in current release at 20 years old. This bottle had it all- it would be impossible to ask for more out of Champagne. It is a blend of special plots in the Grand Crus of the Cote des Blancs, but also has some of the top 1er cru of Vertus in the blend. It was a creamy, integrated, round, nutty tour de force that has arrived at a point of beautiful mellow maturity. I think this has the balance to go for many years to come, but they won’t have it forever. Although he has been sworn to secrecy on the vintage that will be released next, he said that it will be a very big jump- more than 10 years- so get this 1995 while you can!
A toast to you!