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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Wines with George Kassianos ]

Wines with George Kassianos

Quantum of Solace

Despite the preference for serving it alone, Champagne really can be drank throughout a meal

Why the James Bond reference you may be wondering. Patience, we will soon find out. Last year, I attended a Spectus Gala dinner, again. Time after time, wine connoisseurs leave Spectus’ dinner wowed by the experience. Spectus has gained an enviable reputation as oenogastronomy dinner organisers who really do plan and organise everything to the last detail.

In fact, this time George Hadjikyriakos developed a special theme: Champagne and food. A really effective gala dinner is not just about laying a few tables and serving up food. A lot of background work goes into the organisation of memorable dinners such as the one 250 guests tasted. The objective and the message to all the diners was very simple: Champagne goes with food.

Champagne is usually served alone as festive wine and nothing distracts the taster from exploring the aromas of the wine. However, Champagne is a perfect match with many meals and dishes. Experts and amateurs agree: Champagne is much more versatile than any single wine to drink with a wide array of foods, beyond the predictable pairings with caviar and oysters on the half shell. Panicos Hadjitofis, executive chef at the Four Seasons Hotel, expertly prepared the menu to match Hadjikyriakos’ Champagnes.

The starter was Game Terrine with Duck Foie Gras, Red Forest Fruit Compote and Strawberry Balsamic Glaze and was paired with a NV Rosé from Nicolas Feuillatte. This rosé is the signature of Nicolas Feuillatte: intense, audacious pleasure. Deep, bright rose petal pink in colour with flashes of cherry red, it explodes in the glass with vivid aromas and flavours of raspberry, strawberry and red currants. On the palate the delicate toasty scents alongside hints of chocolate and caramel balanced well with the game terrine and the foie gras. The racy acidity was perfect with the strawberry balsamic glaze. Add some apple and berry flavours to match the red forest fruit compote, finishing with a note of coffee. A very good match and a very good start.

Baked Fresh Scallops in the Shell with Stir-Fried Vegetables Sesame and Soya, Champagne Foam, paired with Champagne NV Ayala Brut. Pale gold in colour with a fine mousse, the wine is aromatic on the nose. On the palate its balance suits the weight of the scallops, it shows great finesse and complexity. Pinot Noir richness suits the soya while Chardonnay adds delicacy, liveliness and freshness that blends well with the scallops and the Pinot Meunier gives the wine an appealing fruitiness and roundness that evens the stir-fried vegetables.

With the Roasted Veal Sirloin, Mashed Celeriac and Grilled Mushrooms, Razor Clams Broiled with Parsley and Tomato, predictably, it was the Bollinger, Cuvée Special, Brut. Extremely fresh with an intense lime-lemon flavoured palate, those bubbles give a creamy texture and the yeast autolysis adds another dimension. And it is this dimension that suits the veal as well as the fact that 60% Pinot and 15% Pinot Meunier drive the wine, augmented by fermentation in old oak barrels. Whether or not you like the unmistakable Bollinger style, you have to respect it. The result is a complex, spicy, bready, toasty, baked apple bouquet, the palate complete and round with an unexpected touch of delicacy and a pleasing dry finish.

This brings me to James Bond. Quantum of Solace is the 12th film in which the secret agent shows his allegiance to Bollinger. Indeed, Bollinger is delighted to be James Bond’s Champagne. Spectus had one allocation of the Collector Bullet. The design, based on the form of a Walther PPK bullet, is made from highly polished alloys and stands 25cm high and 65cm long. The Bollinger Bullet case is opened using a leather covered key revealing a limited edition magnum of Bollinger Prestige Cuvée, La Grand Année 1999. After the magnum has been released from its cradle, the inside of the Bollinger forms a segmented drawer - the ideal luxury accessory case. George Hadjkyriakos displayed the bullet and a draw picked a lucky winner to enjoy 2009 with the 1999 Bollinger La Grand Année.

My disappointment for not being the lucky winner was compensated with the Goat Cheese with Piquillo Pepper Fig Syrup and Crostini cheese plate which was paired with 1997 Blanc de Blancs Nicolas Feuillatte. A unique expression of Champagne, a 100% Chardonnay Cuvée, pale gold in colour with sumptuous aromas and flavours of green apples, dried figs, fresh baked bread, brioche and honeysuckle. On the palate there is a great flavour on entry with a meld of creamy lemon, spicy citrus and perfectly integrated lime-soaked acidity. Tart, spicy close that rings with lemon and grapefruit. The nuttiness at the end broadens and deepens the wine. Enough acidity to match the goat cheese and the pepper as well as the sweet fruit in the champagne blended well with the fig syrup, brioche and yeast with the crostini. Excellent combination.

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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