Champagne Jacquart celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. In Champagne house years, 50 is considered quite young. Its new winemaker, Floriane Eznack, came aboard in 2011 to build the brand. I joined her for lunch recently at Ocean Prime in Beverly Hills. Her focus has been on improving the wines and her attention to detail is hard to miss. When Champagne flutes were set on the table, she politely insisted they be replaced with white wine glasses. “The shape of the glass is quite important”, she said, and she likes the wine to be showcased, not the bubbles. A white wine glass expresses the aromas better. “You shouldn’t have to bend your neck.”
We tasted the Brut Mosaique first, 40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier. It’s classic Champagne and it paired beautifully with Sonoma goat cheese raviolis with shiitake mushrooms and a truffle oil butter sauce. Champagne should be three things, she said, elegant, lively and fresh. Chardonnay is what gives Champagne its soul.
Next we tasted the 2006 vintage Blanc de Blancs, with yet another perfect pairing: Kumai oysters on the half shell from Baja. The ’06 is the third in the trilogy of 2004, 2005 and 2006. The next vintage release will be 2009. Every vintage release is different, but she strives for consistency in the non-vintage releases. She believes that aging adds complexity.
She then had us taste their 2006 vintage Cuvée Alpha. 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, it’s a Champagne with depth and finesse. The bubbles are delicate and the wine quite elegant. Each bottle is labeled by hand and one person is able to label only five bottles in an hour. Executive Chef Matthew Briggs first brought out teriyaki salmon on shiitake sticky rice with a soy butter sauce, and as a final course presented sea scallops with Parmesan risotto, English peas and a citrus vinaigrette. All the food was exquisite and accompanied each Champagne beautifully.
Consider picking up a bottle of Champagne Jacquart. I think you’re going to savor each sip.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701. Ask about special discounts.