A Champagne dinner at Clooney restaurant rekindled my affection for Perrier-Jouët Champagne and taught me a few things about matching Champagne with food.
Perrier-Jouët has a beautiful Art Nouveau anemone flower decoration embedded in the bottle. It was designed by Emile Gallè in 1902. Gallè was a leading light among Art Nouveau designers. Brilliant though the design is it only appeared on a Champagne bottle in 1969 after being “re-discovered” by the Champagne house. I imagine that there might have been technical difficulties in making the bottle or perhaps their accountants thought it was an indecently extravagant expense.
We started with a glass of Perrier-Jouët Brut (RRP $105) before dinner and then tasted the same wine with the first course of Kingfish, chamomile and finger lime. The dish beautifully mimicked the creamy texture of the wine. The food and wine were soulmates. They mimicked each other – definitely an “echo match”. The wine was a triumph of subtle flavours and a seductively silken texture.
It worked well, but not as well as the next partnership: Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé NV (RRP $130) with tuna, shiso, mirin and cabbage. Perrier-Jouët ambassador, Chris, described the wine as “the best Rosé Champagne on the market”. I wouldn’t go that far, although I liked the intensity and character of the wine which combined the flavours of strawberry, tangerine and blood orange with appealing bready yeast autolysis. This was my wine and food match of the night. I think it was the subtle acidity in the dish, or it might have been the salt that reacted with the wine making it softer and richer. It amplified the wine’s best features. A truly great match.
Next the Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2007 (RRP $255) which was the Brut on a grand scale with more intense flavours, greater richness and an even silkier texture. A limited edition wine, it is aged on the lees for six years. I liked the hens egg, brie, sunchoke (a fancy name for Jerusalem artichoke) and croissant, but it stood apart from the wine. Neither the food nor the wine made the other taste better – my definition of a good match.
That was followed by the star of the show, Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé 2006 (RRP $365). I thought this was a spectacular wine – red fruits, truffle, brioche, subtle spice and an ethereal texture with an incredibly long finish. I liked the accompanying dish of duck breast, violet, date and lavender but, once again, it seemed to stand apart from the wine. Others thought this the match of the night. There is no question it was the wine of the night.
Finally, we again tasted the Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé – this time with tonka bean, fig leaf, jam and milk. The sweetness in the dish seemed to make the wine uncomfortably acidic. I greatly preferred it with the tuna.
In summary, matching Champagne (or any acidic wine) with a moderately high acid or salty dish seems to pull down the acid in the wine making it richer and creamier. Foods with sweetness have the opposite effect.