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So why is the 2012 Ladera Cabernet—made from almost entirely from Howell Mountain fruit, from an incredible vintage—sitting pretty at $34.99? I honestly can't tell you. Maybe it's because no one knows how good the Ladera holdings in Howell Mountain are. Or maybe it's the pride that winemaker Jade Barrett takes in making a serious wine for a reasonable price. Or maybe it's because Ladera is an overlooked gem in a sea of Napa alternatives. For whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain. We tasted the 2012 vintage at our staff training yesterday and I was just floored by the quality of this wine. Dark, fleshy fruit cloaked in fine tannins, bits of earth, and in total balance, with enough gusto to go the long haul in your cellar. It's a whole lotta wine for $34.99, and it's made primarily from Howell Mountain grapes, harvested during a great vintage. 

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Friday
Mar142014

Nectar Rose: Playing With Higher Dosage in French 75's

The Moet & Chandon "Nectar Imperial" Rosé Champagne is one of only a few demi-sec rose's.

This past Tuesday, Cinnamon and I opened a bottle of Moet & Chandon "Nectar Imperial" Rosé Champagne ($59.99) to try it out. We rarely drink higher dosage Champagne, and I honestly have never opened a demi-sec rose at home. This very full bodied rose Champagne had sweetness on the level of a Lillet or a white Port, and on its own as the aperitif was too heavy for us. Tasting it on its own made me think- how would this work as part of a high quality Champagne cocktail? Could the high quality cane sugar that has spent months marrying with the wine act as a better sweetener than an added simple syrup or agave nectar? Would it be too much? Would it be too little? After we were done mixing, we were left with one of the best French 75’s I have ever had.

 

In September of 2012 I posted a piece on French 75’s here, just as I was starting to learn to relax and enjoy a Champagne cocktail. For many years I had been too uptight to drink any kind of Champagne cocktails, but have since been making up for lost time. I thought that a person who had a true passion for the best in Champagne would never drink a mixed Champagne concoction. Because of this silly belief I missed out on a lot of good drinks and good times. 

Here is our original recipe:

French 75

2 parts Ferrand 1840 Formula 90 proof Cognac

1 Part Fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 Part simple syrup

2 parts Champagne (Blanc de Blancs if you have one open)

Lots of fresh ice

Lemon rind for garnish

We use an ounce per part for ours- and that makes a pretty big aperitif.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the cognac, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake thoroughly and pour into a rocks glass filled with more fresh ice. Top with Champagne, and stir if you like (I do!) finally garnishing with lemon rind.

Using the Moet & Chandon "Nectar Imperial" Rosé Champagne did indeed allow  us to use less simple syrup, and resulted in a more adult, complex and balanced drink. I think this is down to the extraordinary quality of the sugar in the dosage and the complete integration into the Champagne that it is treated to. I am sure that this would be improved further with the use of Hennessy "Black" Cognac ($29.99)- I was out and used some Armagnac instead. This was the final recipe:

Demi-Sec Rose French 75

2 oz. Armagnac

1 oz. Fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice (make sure to take a strip of zest off for garnish before juicing)

1 teaspoon simple syrup

3-4 oz. Moet & Chandon "Nectar Imperial" Rosé Champagne

Lots of fresh ice

Lemon rind for garnish

Follow the steps in the original recipe.

My favorite French 75 yet...

This great cocktail has made me want to experiment more with Champagne cocktails utilizing higher dosage Champagnes. I am planning on using Michel Loriot "Marie-Leopold" Sec Champagne ($34.99), Moet & Chandon "Ice Imperial" Champagne ($56.99) and the Baron Fuente Demi-Sec in future concotions… Check back for more!

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

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