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With the James Bond movie Spectre being released today, no time could be better to drink Bollinger. The most suave spy in the world has been sipping on Bollinger since Moonraker in 1979. While we can’t all drive a fully loaded, customized machine gun having Aston Martin, we certainly can chill down a bottle of Bolli! The 2004 Bollinger "Grande Année" Brut Champagne ($109) is as good as Champagne gets; all barrel fermented and full of masculine, Pinot Noir power and high class elegance. We even have a few bottles of the limited 2009 Bollinger "James Bond 007" Brut Champagne ($195) in stock for the diehard fan of Bond & Champagne!

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Champagne from a Styrofoam Cup

Sometimes Styrofoam is all there is.When customers ask me if it is OK to fly with Champagne, I always respond that I never fly without it. Now that all liquids must be checked, the bottles go into the luggage area, which is far cooler than the often times hot cabins of airplanes and fully pressurized. This week I flew down to Los Angeles to present the staff Champagne tasting at our Hollywood store and meet with our biggest distributor in Cerritos. Since I was bringing a few samples with me for the staff, I figured I would through in a bottle for my dinner as well.

I went out to my cellar and grabbed a bottle of the Franck Bonville Brut Rose Champagne from last year as I had just got news from Olivier Bonville that we will get a little for the end of the year. As soon as I got to my basic hotel in Cerritos, I put it on ice and started to look for something to drink it out of. The room was equipped with Styrofoam coffee cups, the thin, lined kind. I thought I could do better so I went down to check- but the only thing they had were thicker, milk shake style Styrofoam cups. I didn’t give up.

I ordered sushi at “Sushi Ya” just around the corner from the hotel, and when I went to pick it up, I asked them if they had a little plastic cup… No luck, I got another thick styro! It was time to make do. When I got back, I decided to try both styles and experiment. The thinner, lined styro was much better, and the Champagne surprised me with its resilience in such a poor container. It shouldn’t have surprised me so much.

A few years ago, Cinnamon and I hosted some gentleman from a consulting firm looking into drinking vessels impact on sensual experience with beverages, and we put on a tasting for them. We laid out Riedel glasses; the Sommelier Burgundy, Sommelier Vintage Champagne and Vinum Chianti/ Zinfandel, as well as plastic solo cups, coffee mugs and curled lip Libby-style glasses. We served them Champagne, Burgundy and Zinfandel in the different vessels, and were very surprised with the results.

Our gorgeous bottle of Volnay was not worth drinking out of anything besides the Burgundy glass. It was tight and closed out of the Zin glass and not much more than red, wet and acidic out of anything else. The Zin was better out of different vessels, and although the Somm Burgundy glasses made it seem a little hot, it was only the plastic solo cup that really ruined the experience. The Champagne was the champion, with the CO2 doing a lot of the work that a glass would normally do, delivering aroma to the drinker.

Drinking the Bonville rose out of the Styrofoam cup, paired with tasty sushi, was a great way to make the best out of a night on the road. While the wine might have lost a beat or two aromatically, it tasted better than straight out of the bottle. I was happy that I brought it and found that the Ambonnay Bing cherry Pinot had great synergy with the salmon and tuna nigiri. Next time, I’ll try to remember my Riedel O’s, but if I forget I won’t despair!

A toast to you- from a Styrofoam cup!

Gary Westby

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