Sunday, October 28, 2007

...and one more thing I've been doing

A neighbourhood bottle store often has tastings of delicious wines and sherries. When the regular e-newsletter came out during the week I earmarked a small portion of my Saturday afternoon to spend in the back of their shop.

I’d only had Billecart-Salmon once before. Despite it being a fine maker of champagne the situation left a bad taste in my mouth. In a now defunct city restaurant named after a common vegetable, when I ordered some innocuous rose, the sommelier gave me the B-S rose champagne instead. Seeing the fine beading in what should have been a still wine, as well as the glass it was served in, I asked him to double check my order before tasting it. He came back with the assertion it was the rose I ordered and when I was about a third of the way through this delightful sparkling but obviously not the wine I had requested - I asked again and this time the maitre-d, a woman trumped up with her own self importance, came to the table explaining the mistake and suggested I continue drinking it but they would charge me the actual price, being 3 x that of the drink I had ordered. I found this outrageous, told her so very nicely and she whisked the glass off me and replaced it with the one I had asked for in the first place. It would be a fair guess to say I never ate there again, despite the organic food being pleasant enough.

In the unpretentious surrounds of my local, it was time to make friends with this champagne and loose the bad memory that had been lingering. There were 4 non-vintage varieties on offer, all hovering just above or below the $100 a bottle mark. With the exception of the aforementioned rose, the nose smelt strongly of strawberries and cream.

First off the rank was the Brut Reserve. Finely beaded, with a slight sweetness it was creamy in the mouth. A drop you could imagine swanning around with in your hand at some reception, while nibbling on canapés. The Significant Eater, who isn’t the most discerning drinker, gave the first mouthful a “wow, I can taste the difference” exclamation.

Number 2 reacquainted me with my old friend the Brut Rose. This was a drier wine, delicately tinted the gentlest pink. I wouldn’t have said no to another glass, but despite liking a drier wine I would have takes the Brut Reserve in preference.

Number 3, the Brut Blanc de Blancs, was thumbs up the winner for the Significant Eater. A tad drier than the rose and would pair well with savory food. It was lively in the mouth and it made me briefly have delusions of a lifestyle I can’t afford.

The final tasting was the Demi-Sec. The strawberries and cream aroma was particularly noticeable and was a distinctively sweet wine, though not cloying. We did the unthinkable and not finish the tasting glass. The blanc de blancs had spoilt us!

Alas, we went home with 2 bottles of Spanish Sherry to put in the fridge. Now the weather is warmer, a drop before dinner occasionally is a refreshing (and cost effective) aperitif. But friends and anonymous blog readers, if you ever get the urge to show your appreciation you now know what to do!

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