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Bruno Michel "Blanche" Brut Champagne $34.99One of our best non-vintage Champagnes, this organically grown blend of half each Chardonnay and Meunier comes entirely from Bruno Michel's estate. It has been aged for six years on the lees and shows wonderful natural toasty quality as well as incredible vibrance! This was the big hit of our most recent staff Champagne tasting and we think you will love it too.

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Entries in food and wine pairing (17)

Friday
Jul192013

Champagne Friday: One Great Bottle - 2000 Krug Brut Champagne

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

One Great Bottle: 2000 Krug Brut Champagne

A bottle of vintage Krug is a fine centerpiece for a meal, and last Friday Cinnamon, her mother Margaret and my father Jim lived it up with the 2000. In my father’s piece on capsule collecting on the blog he mentioned that he had never tried the 2000, and the team at Krug decided to change that. When I received this great windfall with instructions to drink it with my father, I immediately started thinking about pairings.

For me, very rich Champagne goes best with pate, and the very best of rich Champagne, Krug Vintage, deserves the very best of pate. I got online and ordered a Torchon of Foie Gras from Hudson Valley Farms in New York which they shipped overnight to me. This farm-direct Foie Gras had been cooked in Sauternes and was every bit as good as the best I have had in France. We did almost nothing to it- I sliced it into generous blocks and Cinnamon plated it with fleur de sel, pepper, brioche soldiers and fresh fig. My father poured the Krug and it was time to enjoy Champagne Friday!

Torchon of Foie Gras from Hudson Valley Farms in New York was shipped to me overnight!

Dad and Krug

This batch of 2000 Krug Brut Champagne ($219) is currently in stcck. The bottle of 2000 Krug we enjoyed was from the ID# 210008 batch, the same as what we currently have on the shelf at K&L. Looking this up at www.krug.com, I found that this wine was disgorged in spring 2010 after ten years in the Krug cellar deep beneath Reims. I love the new transparency at the house of Krug, and these ID numbers are great on the vintage wines, but even better for the multi-vintage bottling which had always been a mystery in the past. Now, it is easy to see which harvest these wines are based on and how many reserve vintages went into them.

Our bottle of 2000 showed so well with Foie Gras that I am worried for both my waistline and my bank balance! The liver brought out the scintillating, electric side of the Champagne and highlighted the chalky drive of the top notch Chardonnay in the blend. This refreshing character made it far too easy to take big bites of the duck liver! As the wine opened up, hazelnut depth from the Pinot Noir and savory intrigue from the Meunier developed, and that savor mirrored the flavor of the Foie Gras perfectly. This wine is at the very beginning of its drinking window, and has a huge amount of time in hand. At the end of the evening, after our main course and much conversation, the last drops of this bottle showed even more complexity. This is a great cellar candidate!

A toast to you,

–Gary

Saturday
May042013

Food & Wine: Pass the Cheese, Please!

By: Scott Beckerly | K&L Staff Member

Pass the cheese, please!

Last Wednesday, the first of May, co-worker Kerri Conlon and I had the chance to attend a class at the Cheese School of San Francisco. We have done wine and cheese pairings for customers in our San Francisco store with them and I thought that I should probably know something about cheese...other than loving it!

The theme of our class was 'Spring Cheese and Wine' and it not only addressed cheese and wine pairings, as instructor and author Laura Werlin says (versus 'WINE and cheese', as we say here at K&L) but, also introduced us to cheeses that are released in the spring. We sampled sheep's milk, goat’s milk, cow’s milk and even raw buffalo milk cheese. These cheeses came from Missouri, California, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Tennessee. They had exotic names like “Dirt Lover”, which was silky and soft, creamy and buttery (despite the name), “Moonflower”, which was nutty, grainy and pungent with some black pepper notes, and “Dancing Fern”, one of my favorites, which was smooth and rich with cream, butter and some earthy notes. It was awesome with 2011 Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Hipping Riesling Spatlese, by the way.

The earthy profile of the 2009 Fort Ross "Fort Ross Vineyard" Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is well-matched to buffalo milk cheese. Did you know that buffalo milk cheese is high in solids and butterfat? I didn't! Earthy, mushroomy cool climate Pinot is the way to go with this buffalo's milk cheese. The 2011 Landmark Grand Detour Pinot Noir in the tasting complemented this cheese very well. I also think this cheese would be spectacular with the 2009 Fort Ross "Fort Ross Vineyard" Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($34.99).

Scharffenberger Brut California with 'Petit Marcel' cheese from Pug's Leap Farm in California - match made in heaven! In addition, we learned about washed rind cheeses in which the rind is washed in saltwater and in one case, beer...the one from Minnesota, of course! For those of you who have wine and cheese (or, as Laura would want me to say, 'cheese and wine') on a regular basis, it is best to have a sip of wine first and then to have a bit of cheese. Apparently, many types of cheese can change the flavor of some wines, making them bitter or giving them an 'off' taste.

Another interesting bit of information I learned is that it was recommended that one cheese, called “Petit Marcel”, from Pug's Leap Farm in California (this was my absolute favorite) be aged a few months after release so that it ripens a little more. Kind of like bottle shock with wines when they are first shipped in! Well, a little like that anyway. I loved this one with the NV Scharffenberger Brut from California ($14.99). This would be a top choice for Champagn, too.

Speaking of bubbles, be on the lookout for either a Champagne and cheese pairing consumer tasting in the SF store or a sparkling wine tasting and cheese pairing in the future. I’m planning for one either in June or July on a Saturday afternoon. Stay tuned...

Cheese School is in session!

If you are interested in these type of classes, the Cheese School of San Francisco is located at 2155 Powell Street (2nd Floor). Their phone number is (415) 346-7530 and the web address is www.thecheeseschool.com. BTW-I bought an absolutely killer set of laguiole cheese knives to go with my Champagne sword and steak knives. Thanks, Cheese School of SF!

-Scott

Friday
Feb082013

Champagne Friday: 2002 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Rose 

2002 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Rose paired with mushroom risotto.

By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer

One bottle: 2002 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Rose

Cinnamon and I do not drink a lot of tete de cuvee Champagne from the grand marques at home. They don’t suit our tastes as much as the more human-scaled, terroir-specific grower wines, not to mention the fact that they are very expensive! This past Saturday night was an exception; we wanted to make the most of it and enjoy this bottle of 2002 Dom Perignon Rose in the spirit that it was intended. Cinnamon came up with the idea of making a mushroom risotto to pair, and her instinct for pairing was right on.

I cannot think of another producer that has such a huge difference in production scale and wine quality between their rose and regular blanc bottling than Moet with their Dom Perignon. While Moet has released 38 vintages of the Dom Perignon blanc, they have only released 22 vintage of rose skipping widely declared vintages such as 1976 and 1999. While no producer guards their production figures as closely as Moet guards their Dom Perignon figures, it is easy to see how much less of the rose is made. Every Costco stocks big stacks of DP blanc, you will find it on nearly every nice restaurants wine list and available at hotels from Norway to Chile, while the rose is rarely seen. It is always allocated to K&L and we can never get enough to satisfy demand.

Details on the composition of Dom Perignon wines are almost as difficult to come up with as the production figures. The two websites of Dom Perignon, http://www.creatingdomperignon.com/dom-perignon-rose-2002/ and http://www.domperignon.com/rose2002/ have lots of descriptive notes, and in case of the second some very fancy flash graphics, but no objective facts on the wine. This approach is frustrating to me, since real information on the wine itself allows the wine fan to make an informed purchasing decision and give us a deeper appreciation for the bottles that we drink.

Richard Juhlin in his book 4000 Champagnes describes Dom Perignon as a blend of approximately 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, and notes the source of the red wine as Ay when he notes it at all. Since I can’t think of any writer that has spent more time at Moet or tasted more bottles of Dom Perignon (all of them, multiple times) we’ll use that as a reasonable approximation of the composition of the 2002. I wish I could do better, and will endeavor to!

While researching the background of this bottle was frustrating, drinking the wine could not have been easier. The 2002 Dom Perignon Rose is among the most elegant Champagnes that I have ever drunk. While past bottles of DP rose have been full of Vosne-Romannee savor, this 2002 has a much more pure strawberry like fruit at its core. The mushroom risotto that Cinnamon and I prepared to go with it coaxed out the Burgundian elements, but this wine could easily have made a great partner for wild salmon, or just a sunset. The wine is also very, very dry for grand marque Champagne, especially Dom Perignon, which has always leaned to the richer side. The cleanliness of the finish, with nice hints of chalk is not austere. Nothing sticks out 11 years from the harvest, and I can only imagine how much depth and complexity this wine will have with another 10, 20, 30 or more years in the cellar. If I could buy a case and follow its evolution over the years, I would.

I am certainly lucky to have had a chance to drink this wine once - certainly a better thing than getting to taste it twice! Wines of complexity do not reveal their secrets quickly; they give me the most pleasure with charming company and a thoughtful food pairing. Cinnamon provided both to me, as well as the recipe that follows for the risotto that we enjoyed.

Porcini, Chanterelle, and King Trumpet mushrooms.

Cinnamon Westby's Mushroom Risotto

Using a wide shallow pan, soften 1 diced shallot in a generous glug of olive oil on medium heat, add aprox 1 cup Arborio rice to coat with oil and stir around for about 4 minutes. Pour in a glass of dry white wine. (Don’t forget a glass for the chef!)

Begin adding hot chicken stock (homemade is best) one ladleful at a time, and stir until fully absorbed before adding the next. (It’s useful to have a second person in charge of adding the stock, and stirring the risotto)  While this is happening, soak approximately ¼ cup dried porcinis in hot water to reconstitute them, and coarsely chop your other mushrooms. (We used chanterelles and king trumpets). 

After soaking for about 10 minutes, the porcinis can be chopped and added to the risotto as you continue to incorporate the hot chicken stock. 

Sautee the other mushrooms on medium high heat with a pat of butter, being careful not to overcrowd the pan and giving them plenty of time to brown. You could also add another glug of wine to the mushrooms and some chopped fresh thyme to the mushrooms for extra flavor.

Preparing the risotto.

When the risotto is done to your liking and still a little runny (about 25 minutes), add salt and pepper to taste and stir in ¾ cup whipped cream. (To make things easier, whip the cream and stick it in the fridge before you start the risotto. 1/3 cup cream becomes aprox ¾ cup, when whipped).

Dish up the risotto into warm bowls and top with the sautéed mushrooms and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

If you can afford a splurge, you will not be disappointed in the 2002 Dom Perginon Rose. Drink your bottles when the occasions come- this is spectacular Champagne now, and will continue to evolve and improve for decades. We are expecting ours to arrive at the end of the month, and it is available as special order here.

Cheers!

A toast to you,

-Gary