Champagne is the wine of life and can be consumed with any meal, especially breakfast, although we only had the time, and opportunity, to experience this premise for dinner. Six champagnes were presented.
To assist us in our ingredient and champagne choices we invited two experienced Dame Chevalier Ordre des Coteaux Champagnes to help us plan and prepare our menu in conjunction with our chef for what proved to be a taste bud activating and educational experience. Ms Tracy Mann and Ms Lexie Thompson entertained us throughout the evening explaining the origins and Assemblage of the champagnes that had been chosen. To guide us we had also been given a simple but enlightening Champagne glossary.
Three delectable canapes started the evening being fresh oysters, a delightful salmon tartare with blinis and horseradish sour cream and a most interesting, and new experience for me, Escargot profiteroles. Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV was served ‘en magnum’ to start the event on a perfect note.
The 46 members and guests were then introduced by Bailli Thurston Saulsman to Chef Pierre Ichallalene, as well as our special guest Mr. Hoong Eng Fook and partner Grace Ho from Singapore. Chez Pierre had been exclusively reserved for the night for our event, and Chef Pierre explained, in conjunction with our champagne connoisseurs, the four courses that were to follow and why they had been chosen. Already the excitement was apparent.
Local crayfish served with fennel mousse together with a fricassee of potato with a light crayfish, tomato and Pernod bisque source was chosen as appetiser. This was accompanied by what we were assured was Sir Winston Churchill’s favourite champagne Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV. Although this was a non-vintage variety, we could certainly see how it could help making difficult decisions in difficult times, particularly when accompanied by lobster.
An entrée consisted of parmesan crusted cod fillets and a delectable Shark Bay (some 600kms to our north) scallop. This was served with leek and crab compote and asparagus finished with light ginger beurre blanc sauce. At this point everyone’s favourite champagne, and the only vintage selection, for the evening was delivered with aplomb. Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc 2012 set off this dish magnificently.
Rose champagnes, both alluring and sensual and produced through the Rose d’Assemblage method accompanied our main course of locally sourced Wagin whole quail cooked in two ways with confit legs and pan-seared breasts. These were enhanced by a ragout of wild mushrooms, creamy pomme puree and honey glazed turnips finished with a light quail jus. Our two choices were a Ruinart Rose NV whose bouquet was somewhat of a challenge to some and the very small vineyard Marc Chauvet Brut Rose NV whose lighter and more fragrant appeal was interestingly preferred by many.
To complete our evening we were presented with an experimental Cherry & Comte fromage souffle served with walnut ice cream to enlighten the generous, sweet yet robust dessert champagne Canard-Duchene Charles VII Blanc de Noirs Brut NV.
Thanks were given to Ms. Mann and Ms. Thompson for their insight and enthusiasm for such a tour of La Champagne and the champagnes of the region. In addition Chef Pierre and his magnificent staff was acknowledged for their wonderful participation and imagination in the choice of accompanying dishes.