WineFrance

Rendez-vous Cattier- Encore!

Wines for the Evening
Wines for the Evening

Pervasive luxury has to be the norm when a glitzy and glamorous Champagne House does a national level launch of its beauties. We are talking of Cattier- the famous Champagne house, that was recently in news when guests of famous Hollywood actor Leonardo di Caprio swirled and sipped  $ 3.5 million worth of its prestige cuvée Armand de Brignac at his birthday celebrations. The occasion this time however, was the India launch of Cattier held in New Delhi at Hotel ITC Maurya and came as a precursive cooler to the already soaring mercury in the Indian capital.

M. Jean-Jacques Cattier introducing the wines
M. Jean-Jacques Cattier introducing the wines

Cattier is a family owned Champagne house that has owned vineyards in the exclusive Montagne de Reims area of Champagne since 1763. 1918 onwards, the house started producing Champagne under its own family name and currently exports to more than 60 countries worldwide (India being the latest). The wine styles range from crisp and minerally Blanc de Blancs (white wine from white grapes) to elegantly structured Rosés, and firm yet sophisticated Blanc de Noirs (white wine from black grapes) . I was disappointed though, to discover from Philippe that for the time being, Armand de Brignac would elude the Indian shores due to current market dynamics as envisaged by their importers- the Sri Lanka based Kosmos Group. Hope the viability is pretty soon!

Hors d'ouvres
Hors d’ouvres

My association with the Champagne house started last autumn when I went visiting them at Chigny les Roses in the very heart of Champagne district between Reims and Epernay. A visit to their three floors deep cellars and a dégustation session with none other than their President Monsieur Jean-Jacques Cattier was an  experience (read my earlier blogpost on Maison Cattier) that I started cherishing already.  So when I received an email from M Philippe Bienvenu,  Commercial Director Cattier, inviting me rather modestly for ‘a flute of Champagne’ to celebrate the launch of Cattier wines in India, my anticipation started building up. Needless to mention, the celebrations went miles ahead of a simple flute!

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It  was deja vu to find M Cattier and Philippe warmly welcoming guests at the venue, even as the evening began with rounds of aperitif and hors d’oeuvres indicating the gourmet fare that lay ahead. Around an hour of tête-à-tête later, the dinner doors were opened and revealed immaculately laid out tables ready to receive the five course fare and the guests partaking of it. The selective gathering comprised of well heeled wine lovers from different vocations and it showcased the producer’s seriousness for reaching out to the widest possible cross-section of the Indian market

Course by course, the experience unfolded as follows (since I opted for non-vegetarian cuisine, my apologies to vegetarians for skipping the detailed description and photos of veg dishes):

First Course (Entrée)

vinotheque

Wine: Cattier Brut Vinotheque
Type: Vintage 2005
Blend: 1/3rdeach Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Approx Retail price in Delhi: Rs. 4500.00

Vinotheque in French means “Library of Wines”. As I discussed this aspect with Philippe, he told me the significance of the name being in the exotic and collectible nature of the wine that is akin to storing in a library, only to be pulled out for use when the situation is apt- to say so- with the compatible mood, food and of course the ambience!

Accompanied Food:

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Vegetarian: Summer mushroom fondue drizzled with white truffle oil and butter fried goujons in  chive oil.

Non Vegetarian: Olive oil poached Scampi masked in raw Mango confit, paired with Sevruga caviar, port poached figs.

Tasting Notes: Clear pale gold colour with shimmering reflections. Aromas of golden apple, lemon and brioche. Refreshing acidity and layered complexity on the palate. Worked well with the freshness of Scampi, the tanginess of Mango confit and the salty palate coating texture of the Sevruga caviar.

Second Course

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Wine: Cattier Brut Vinotheque

Accompanied Food:

Vegetarian: White corn agnolotti tossed in curry emulsion with beetroot essence.

Non Vegetarian: Chilean Sea bass napped in fennel confit, served with a side of fennel dill crescents and mustard butter.

Tasting Notes: As above. The wine complemented the freshness of Sea bass and balanced the aromatic complexity of the dish. And yes, the creamy texture of the dish found a great companion in the refreshing acidity of the wine.

Palate Cleanser

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Green Apple Armagnac Sorbet- Served in an alloy spoon atop crushed ice in a cocktail glass. Worked well to demagnetise the palate.

Third Course

blanc-de-noirs

Wine: Cattier Brut Blanc de Noirs
Type: Non Vintage
Blend: 70 % Pinot Noir, 30 % Pinot Meunier
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Approx Retail price in Delhi: NA (currently not being imported in India)

Accompanied Food:

Vegetarian: Provencal aubergine rollatini on a bed of stewed baby tomatoes risotto and side of cumin spinach gnuddi.

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Non Vegetarian: Slow braised lamb shanks, served with red wine Cipollini onions and rosemary thyme infused oil.

Officially, this third course was served with the Rose 1er Cru, but for me, Cattier Blancs de Noirs stole the show- and for good reason! First, I had already tasted this wine last autumn at Maison Cattier with none other than M Cattier himself and come to know of its virtues. Second, the robust dish with which it was served on this occasion had a perfect companion in this gladiatorial wine!  Incidentally, at hors d’ouvres   Philippe had indicated a ‘surprise’   inclusion in the degustation menu- and this happened to be it, being the unannounced entry that M Cattier ferried personally from France. This does not mean that the Rose was any less, but with Blancs de Noirs around, it gracefully bowed out to shine fully in the ensuing dessert course!

Tasting Notes: A pink gold colour expressing the strength harnessed within. A complex bouquet of black currants, plums, nuts and a distinct feel of spice. On the palate it was firm with lots of red fruits, jam and a hint of white pepper. The finish was smooth and lingering. The steely structure of the wine stood up perfectly to the firm and bouncy textured lamb. The medium sweetness of Cippolini onions was a delight with the spicy traits of the wine, and so were the aromatics of the dish that worked well with its layered complexity. It would not be an exaggeration to state the likeness of the pairing  to “brick and mortar” !

Fourth Course (Dessert)

glamour-rose

Wine: Cattier Rosé Glamour
Type: Non Vintage
Blend: 30 % Pinot Noir, 60 % Pinot Meunier, 10% Chardonnay
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Approx Retail price in Delhi: Rs 5600.00

Accompanied Food

Caramelised Butter petit pots with almond tuille, side of coddled summer fruits and vanilla pod freeze.

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Tasting Notes: A clear, beautiful salmon pink colour with aromas of strawberries, black currant and toast. A fresh and lively palate of abundant red fruits accompanied by a smooth, lingering finish. A residual sugar content of 25 gms per litre classifies it in the Sec(Dry) category thereby  giving the richness for pairing with a fresh dessert like the one above. Worked quite well with the creamy, mildly sweet, nutty and fresh nature of the dessert.

peter-mehta

The dinner concluded with an aromatic espresso accompanied by hand made chocolates and the celebrated artiste  Peter Mehta rendering Big Mountain’s sonorous- “Ooh Baby baby it’s a wild world“ with lilting piano notes.  “A’ Bientôt- Au Revoir”- bade Philippe before I made a promise to Monsieur Cattier for a rendez-vous encore… maybe in France.. maybe in India!

 

 

Col Joe
wirtten by: Col Joe
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