Variety

A toast to Roederer

Archana Achal Ketaki Bhojnagarwala | Updated on November 23, 2011

Mr. Damien Motte, Export Area Manager, Louis Roederer   -  BUSINESS LINE

Degustation of onions with Gorgonzola cheese   -  BUSINESS LINE

Tagliolini wth cherry tomatoes, black sesame and fried Parma ham   -  BUSINESS LINE

White truffle flavoured crepes with vegetable ragout   -  BUSINESS LINE

Louis Roederer Brut Premier   -  BUSINESS LINE

The ready availability of fine wines in India has seen the number of wine drinkers here multiply immensely, but an unfortunate effect has been the advent of the ‘Wine ‘Snob'ellier'. Since we're still getting the hang of how to sniff, swirl and spit out wine that costs more than our monthly salary, we were quite intrigued when Prego, the Italian restaurant at the Taj Coromandel in Chennai invited us for a special preview of their Louis Roederer champagne meal. Until not long ago, champagne was served only as an aperitif or as part of a celebratory event. Damien Motte, Export Area Manager of Louis Roederer and Chef Giovanna of Prego demonstrated how the sparkling spirit could be teamed alongside a four-course Italian meal.

More than Cristal

Louis Roederer is best known for its Cristal champagne, the drink of choice among the crème de la crème and until a recent public gaffe by their managing director, Jay-Z and the rest of the rapping community. The company has been producing champagne from their family-owned house in Reims, in the Champagne region of France for over two centuries.

Their vintages are produced from a singular varietal while their other champagnes are created from a combination of varietals using the blending techniques of their in-house experts. The product is a fine bottle of bubbly, light and elegant with distinct aromatic notes and small hints of woodiness. One of the few remaining family-owned champagne houses, Louis Roederer is very particular on the use of wood for maturation and the selective distribution of its wines.

On our tasting table for the afternoon were the Brut Premier and the Vintage 2005.

Dining delights

Before we begin our meal, Chef Giovanna tells us that pairing champagne with vegetables is tricky – finding vegetables to complement champagne is quite a task as certain vegetables like fennel negate the flavours of the champagne because of the strong anise taste. Asparagus on the other hand, can carry the flavour of champagne quite well.

To start with, we were served beautifully presented asparagus wrapped in black rice crepes. The black rice crepes encasing the crunchy asparagus stems were texturally different from the usual crepes, while the salty olives and sweet cherry tomatoes added a burst of freshness to the dish. We also sampled the degustation of onions with gorgonzola cheese. The gorgonzola cheese was whipped to a light, creamy texture, and the caramelised walnut halves and shallots complemented the flavours well. Paired perfectly with the Louis Roederer Brut Premier, the starters were light on the palate and readied it for the main course.

We sipped a glass of Louis Roederer Vintage 2005 while we savoured our mains of duck breast with a wine reduction and white truffle flavoured rice crepes stuffed with vegetable ragout. The Vintage 2005 added a new dimension to the food, having a bit more depth than the Brut Premier. The champagne also complemented fresh tuna stuffed gnocchi in a sauce made with sun-dried tomatoes and anchovies and tagliolini pasta with Parma ham. The duck breast was cooked rare and served with sweet roasted carrots and grated potatoes. The crepes were served with three different ragouts – mushroom, peppers and courgettes, each with a distinct flavour enhanced by the champagne.

Sweet treats

The grand finale of the meal was the dessert, and we sampled the delectable almond chocolate dome with port wine sauce and the truly Italian zabaglione with strawberries and blueberries. The chocolate dome, garnished with a single almond placed on pistachio dust, was as majestic in appearance as the name suggests and packed lots of flavour in as well. On cracking open the dome, we tasted a smooth and creamy almond chocolate mousse on a base drenched in sweet port wine sauce. The zabaglione is a concoction of marsala wine, sugar and egg yolk, whipped to a frothy consistency. Poured over the fresh fruit, the zabaglione didn't take away from the natural sugars of the berries, but the liquidy texture wasn't true to the custard-like consistency it is supposed to be.

The meal offered great insight into the more ‘winey' nature of champagne, pairing it with select foods for a more enjoyable and satiating experience.

archana.a@thehindu.co.in

ketaki@thehindu.co.in

Published on November 23, 2011

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