01 Jul Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Dinner at Republique with Champagne Palmer
I believe that Champagne is something to be enjoyed every day, not just on special occasions. So, when I was invited to a mid-week wine dinner with Champagne Palmer, I did not hesitate to say yes. Champagne is such a food-friendly wine and that is exactly what we experienced with our meal at Republique. Each Champagne was delicious on its own but when paired with food, it was another experience. That is why my dinner at Republique with Champagne Palmer is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
About Champagne Palmer
Champagne Palmer was established in 1947, after World War II. It was created by seven grower-families who had Premier Cru and Grand Cru classified vineyards all located in the Montagne de Reims, a sub-region of Champagne. The name “Palmer” was a made-up name, inspired by the Huntley & Palmers British biscuits which were popular at the time. These seven grower-families understood the beauty of the blend and their vision was to create a Grande Marque. Today, Champagne Palmer has holdings of more than 500 acres of vineyards in the Montagne de Reims mostly on north-facing slopes in the Grand Crus of Mailly and Verzenay, as well as on north-eastern slopes in the Premier Crus of Trépail and Villers-Marmery.
One of the unique things about Champagne Palmer is their use of a solera system. This system is popular in Spain and used in the production of Sherry. For Champagne Palmer, each year, the wines spend six to eight months in small oak barrels. Each vintage, a portion of the wine is added to the “perpetual reserves” that are kept in stainless steel vats. The Chardonnay solera is used in the dosage after disgorgement, as well as in the blend of Amazone de Palmer wines. The red wine solera is used to make the Rosé Solera Champagne. These perpetual reserves were started 45 years ago and as new wines are added each year, they refresh the old wines.
We were joined at dinner by the charming and outgoing Rémi Vervier, the Managing Director and Oenologist at Champagne Palmer & Co. Rémi was born in Burgundy and studied enology. He was working in Burgundy but after a visit to Champagne, he was intrigued by the art of blending. He moved to Champagne in 2010 where he joined Champagne Palmer. At Champagne Palmer, Rémi is one of five enologists who work together to create Champagne Palmer’s signature wines.
Champagne Palmer Brut Reserve
The evening began with the Champagne Palmer Brut Reserve ($65) which is a blend of 50-55% Chardonnay, 35-40% Pinot Noir, and 10-15% Meunier. The wine is aged on the lees for four years and reserve wine is added in the dosage after disgorgement. The reserve wine is a blend of wine from previous years. This is how Champagne Palmer maintains their style. The Champagne Palmer Brut Reserve is beautifully fresh with notes of citrus, pear, and hazelnuts.
We enjoyed the Champagne Palmer Brut Reserve during the reception and continued to enjoy it at the start of the dinner. First there was the freshly baked baguette with Normandy butter. There is really nothing more magnificent than this bread and butter but add the Champagne and it took it to another level of just perfection.
The Champagne Palmer Brut Reserve was really intended to pair with the Uni Panna Cotta with Kaluga caviar. The panna cotta had the flavors of the uni but they were not overwhelming. The texture was creamy and the salinity of the caviar shone. The acidity of the Brut Reserve was in harmony with the creamy texture and let the caviar shine.
Champagne Palmer Blanc de Blancs
The Champagne Palmer Blanc de Blancs ($102) is made from Chardonnay grapes from Premier Crus vineyards primarily in Villers-Marmery and Trépail, as well as Chardonny from the Cote de Sézanne. The wine was aged on the lees for 4-5 years. The result is a bright and crisp wine with notes of citrus, white flowers, almonds, chalk, and brioche.
The Blanc de Blanc was paired with two dishes, showing its versatility. The first dish was Dungeness Crab with tomato yuzu felee, pinkerton avocado, radish, shiso, and fresh wasabi. The freshness of the cucumber and radish, the creaminess of the avocado and the crab, and the brightness of the tomato and yuzu played off each other. When paired with the Blanc de Blanc, the flavors of the dish brought out the almond and yeasty qualities of the wine.
But when the wine was paired with another dish, the result was different.
The Japanese Kinmedai is from the seabass family and it was served with porcini mushroom, potato gnocchi, and sauce vin jaune. This dish was rich and creamy with umani flavors and the acidity of the Blanc de Blancs cut through the richness. This was a beautiful pairing.
Champagne Palmer Rosé Solera
The Champagne Palmer Rosé Solera ($92) is a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 10% Meunier. There is 8% of the Solera of Pinot Noir in this wine. The result is a wine that has both young red and black fruit aromas from the newer wine and spice aromas from the older wine. On the palate, the wine is fresh and elegantly textured.
The Rosé Solera was paired with Corn Agnolotti with wild chanterelle mushroom, brown butter, parmesan, and black truffle. This was a decadent dish, with sweet and earthy flavors. The Rosé Solera was a match for the richness of the dish and the fruity freshness of the Champagne shined.
Champagne Palmer Grands Terroirs
For the next course, we were served two vintages of Champagne Palmer Grands Terroirs. The Grand Terroirs are expressions of a vintage from the best crus of the Montagne de Reims. They are a balance of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with a touch of Meunier, and are known for their power and structure.
Champagne Palmer Grands Terroirs 2015
The Champagne Palmer Grands Terroirs 2015 ($145) is a blend of 50% Chardonnay, 38% Pinot Noir, and 12% Meunier from an exceptional year that saw high temperatures and minimal rainfall and resulted in rich, complex, and balanced wines. The 2015 has notes of peaches, pineapple, and acacia flowers. On the palate, the wine has a creamy texture and an elegant bitterness.
Champagne Palmer Grands Terroirs 2012
The Champagne Palmer Grands Terroirs 2012 ($335) is a blend of 46% Chardonnay, 49% Pinot Noir, and 5% Meunier from a challenging year that began with a cold, rainy spring and summer but ended with a warm August. The 2012 has beautiful aromas of lemon hazelnuts, dried fruits, and ginger and on the palate it is has a silky texture and a lovely minerality.
Both of the Grand Terroirs Champagnes were paired with the roasted breast and confit leg of Liberty Duck, served with roasted baby turnip, oven-dried apricot, and peppercorn jus. Both wines had the texture and rich elegance to match the tender duck and sweet apricot.
Champagne Palmer Collection
Champagne Palmer Collection are a collection of rare vintages, such as 1989, 1987, 1985, 1979 and 1976. These are wines that remain in bottle, before disgorgement, for a long maturing period resulting in complex and rich wines that are still fresh.
Champagne Palmer Collection 1999
The Champagne Palmer Collection 1999 ($350) is a blend of 49% Chardonnay, 38% Pinot Noir, and 13% Meunier. This wine was exquisite with notes of an aged Champagne and yet so fresh.
Champagne Palmer Collection 1996
The Champagne Palmer Collection 1996 ($450) is a blend of 46% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir, and 17% Meunier. This 27 year old wine had complex aromas of citrus, toasted brioche, and candied ginger and also offered so much freshness.
And what better to enjoy two beautifully aged Champagnes than with a plate of cheese that included Andante Largo, a cow milk cheese from California, Shropshire Blue, a cow milk cheese from England, and Ossau-Iraty Reserve, a raw sheep milk cheese from France.
To finish the meal, and with a line of Champagne glasses in front of me to continue enjoying, we shared a few desserts.
The Basque Cheesecake with Harry’s Berries strawberries and rhubarb was creamy deliciousness.
The Brooks Cherry Tart with wildflower honey, almond cream, and pistachio was a mix of sweet and tart.
And we washed it all down with Meyer lemon, mango, and raspberry sorbet.
It was an incredible meal showcasing the beauty of Champagne Palmer wines and their versatility. It was definitely a great way to spend an evening in the middle of the week.