Miami is known around the world for its legendary nightlife, beautiful people and international flair. Recently these factors converged on a balmy, South Florida Summer evening at a glamorous event hosted by Champagne Taittinger. The Champagne house fêted its friends at El Tucán, a chic, modern day cabaret and supper club that pays homage to the glitz and glamour of 1940’s Cuba. Part Moulin Rouge, part CopaCabana, it’s easy to see why El Tucán is one of Miami’s hottest hot spots.
The Champagne Taittinger event was truly a feast for the senses! The lively reception featuring endless Champagne poured from large format bottles and paired with a variety of passed hors d’ouevres. Guests also mixed and mingled with the exotic Tucanette feather dancers prior to the show. Once seated, we enjoyed an elaborate, multi-course dinner paired with a variety of Taittinger cuvées including the Brut La Française, ’08 Brut Millésimé, Nocturne, Nocturne Rosé and the ’05 Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs AND Rosé. While all the selections were fabulous and incredibly food friendly, the duo of Comtes de Champagne, the house’s esteemed tête de cuvées, were truly the epitome of grace and finesse.
For dinner, dishes such as Tostada de Atun con Trufas, Tiradito de Lenguado Crudo and Fillet de Lomo al Cafe Cubano delighted both the eye and the palate. The cheeky, and at times fabulously risqué, burlesque dance numbers were sensuously executed and interspersed with numbers by other amazing performers. An incredibly flexible gymnast dazzled us with his rippled muscles and nimble contortions. Stunning female vocalist, Yoli Mayor, channeled Adele with her powerful, sultry voice. And Grammy Award-winning pianist, producer and composer, Marlow Rosado, and his wonderful band delighted us with their Cuban-inspired beats (see video below). Minutes after they began to play we were on the dance floor where we happily danced the night away!
Next time you’re in the mood for an evening of glitz, glamour and fun, be sure to check out Miami’s El Tucán. From the food to the wine (preferably Champagne) to the entertainment – I guarantee you will NOT be disappointed! Many thanks to Champagne Taittinger for a supremely special evening.
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“Some wines are like mystery books that you read fast, enjoy and forget. Burgundy is like a classic that you take in slowly, assimilate and always remember.” – Jacques Lardière Since Burgundy-based négociant Maison Louis Jadot’s 2013 purchase of the 32-acre Resonance vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton District of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Pinot Noir fans have been in a state of... Read More
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The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping and sunny days are steadily replacing the gloom of winter. Spring is upon us and one of my favorite wines to enjoy this time of year is Chablis. These wines should not be confused with the low quality, jug wine made infamous in the 1970’s. In fact, quite the contrary, authentic Chablis... Read More
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The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping and sunny days are steadily replacing the gloom of winter. Spring is upon us and one of my favorite wines to enjoy this time of year is Chablis. These wines should not be confused with the low quality, jug wine made infamous in the 1970’s. In fact, quite the contrary, authentic Chablis is all about freshness, elegance and purity.
Chablis is the northernmost wine district of Burgundy, one of France’s most acclaimed wine regions. This is undeniably white wine country and Chablis’ signature grape is Chardonnay. Unlike Chardonnay produced in warmer climates such as California, Burgundy’s cool climate produces wines which are light and lemony, and known more for their lively acidity and minerality than opulent fruit and spice. These wines are perfect for sipping on a bright, sunny Spring day or paired with a wide variety of cuisines.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a Chablis tasting in Miami at La Mar by Gastón Acurio located in the tony Mandarin Oriental Hotel. This chic Peruvian eatery strategically overlooks both the beautiful Biscayne Bay and dramatic Miami skyline. Since it was a beautiful sunny South Florida day, we enjoyed our tasting al fresco, guided by our charming host, Jean François Bordet, President of the Chablis Wine Board and proprietor of Domaine Séguinot-Bordet, his family’s winery founded in 1590.
Our tasting involved a selection of wines from three of Chablis’ four appellations which are: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. When sampling Burgundian wine, the concept of terroir is always at the forefront (for more information on “terroir” please click here). Terroir essentially refers to the intersection of soil, grape variety, climate and winemaker influence and how these factors come together to create wine that is unique to a specific place which cannot be produced anywhere else in the world. Key to this theory are Climats, or designated plots of land with specific geological and climatic conditions, which impart their own unique impression on wine.
The soils of Chablis are legendary for their limestone content and were formed long ago in the Kimmeridgian period (Upper Jurassic era). This unique soil contains millions of fossils of oysters and other marine creatures and is primarily found in the Chablis and Chablis Premier Cru appellations. Petit Chablis is situated on soils formed more recently, which contain limestone from the Portlandian period. The Chablis Grand Cru vines grow on steep slopes rife with Kimmeridgian limestone as well as an extremely rich subsoil.
Our tasting featured a selection of wines which beautifully represented their respective appellations. Chef Acurio prepared an assortment of delicious dishes to pair with each group of wines which were served in three consecutive flights.
Our first flight featured one wine, the 2013 Domaine Séguinot-Bordet Chablis Vieilles Vignes. Vieilles Vignes means “old vines” which, in this case, are 78 years old and located on the family’s 40 acre estate in Maligny. The wine was fermented in oak barrels (15% new) and stainless steel (85%) resulting in a fresh, lively wine that was classic Chablis! It paired beautifully with Chef’s dishes which included Cebiche Nikei with tuna, red onion, nori, avocado, daikon cucumber, and tamarind leche de tigre; Causa Congrejo featuring beet causa, crab, avocado, huancaina sauce, fried kale, cherry tomatoes and quail egg; and a perennial favorite, Empanadas with pork adobo and pepian de choclo, chalaca, and huacatay sauce. Chef Acurio’s dishes were as much a feast for the eyes as the palate and the wine definitely held it’s own amidst the onslaught of deliciousness. It’s hallmark acidity tempered the richness and variety of textures while also allowing the flavors of the food to shine through.
The second course featured three Chablis offerings from the Premier Cru appellation which is comprised of 40 individual Climats, 17 of which are most prominent. These wines generally exhibit more complexity and structure than basic Chablis and have good aging potential as well, approximately 5 to 10 years. The words “Premier Cru” and the name of the Climat of origin may be added to the name Chablis on the wine’s label.
The three wines in our second flight included the 2011 Maison Simonnet Febvre Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons; 2011 Domaine Billaud-Simon Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre; and the 2009 Domaine Oudin Chablis 1er Cru Vaugiraut. This collection of wines provided an insightful snapshot of the Premier Cru appellation. The Simmonet Febvre Vaillons had notes of white peach and citrus with a clean, racy acidity and lengthy finish; the Billaud-Simon Montée de Tonnerre was a study in elegance with floral and mineral aromas accompanied by vibrant citrus, limestone and gunflint; the Domaine Oudin Vaugiraut was slightly older than the two other wines and had a slight oxidative quality in addition to notes of gunflint, minerality and citrus. Chef Acurio’s Quinoa Caprese was beautifully colorful with heirloom tomatoes, basil, red quinoa, burrata cheese with an aji amarillo vinaigrette which paired best with the Domain Oudin Vaugiraut. The Seared Scallop Conchitas with lomo saltado sauce, garlic chips and crispy sweet potato strings paired brilliantly with the other two wines.
The third course featured two wines from Chablis’ Grand Cru appellation which consists of seven Climats: Blanchot, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur and Vaudésir. These wines represent the jewel in the crown of the Chablis region. They also have the most aging potential (usually around 7-10 years), a more generous mouthfeel, lengthier finish and more complexity which is usually manifested in notes of spice, honey, almond and dried fruit.
Our third flight consisted of two Grand Cru wines, the 2010 Maison Drouhin Vaudon Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir and the 2009 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot. The Drouhin Vaudon Vaudésir, served en magnum, is a product of thirty year old vines whose grapes were manually harvested and gently pressed to preserve the quality of the fruit. The wine was fermented entirely in oak (0% new) for 12 months and the resulting wine offered a complex array peach, honey, spice and almond with a lengthy, mineral-tinged finish. This nuanced wine had a rich texture yet was also was bright and lively with plenty of finesse – a beautiful effort! The Domaine Laroche Blanchot, a product of 45 year old vines, was also manually harvested and fermented partially in stainless steel (60%) while the remainder went into French oak barrels (15% new) for 14 months. The resulting wine was also lovely and layered with notes of peach, apple, limestone and honey which continued to evolve in the glass over our third course. To enjoy with our Grand Cru Chablis, Chef Acurio prepared a mouth watering Amazon fish with tamarind chorillana sauce, yucca and smoked bacon – a truly divine pairing!
I hope you feel inspired to explore the wines of this very special region this Spring! For more information on the Chablis region, please click here. For pricing information or to purchase any of the wines mentioned in this post, please click here to go to the Wine Atelier.
This time of year in South Florida we are obsessed with Stone Crabs, a delicacy only available from October 15th through May 15th. While these crustaceans can be found in waters as far north as Connecticut, the best are widely believed to come from Florida. The world famous Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami’s South Beach is the authority on these... Read More
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This time of year in South Florida we are obsessed with Stone Crabs, a delicacy only available from October 15th through May 15th. While these crustaceans can be found in waters as far north as Connecticut, the best are widely believed to come from Florida. The world famous Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami’s South Beach is the authority on these crustaceans, also known as Menippe Mercenaria (Menippe = Greek, meaning force or courage and Mercenaria = Latin meaning something of value).
Unlike most other crabs including Maine’s Peekytoe, Chesapeake Blue, or the Pacific Dungeoness, only the claws of the stone crab are harvested and the crabs are not killed during the process. These crabs are captured in baited traps and only one claw per crab can be taken so it can still defend itself against predators. The claws make up about half the weight of the entire crab and once harvested, the pricey appendages are classified and priced according to weight – Colossal size claws can weigh up to 25 ounces or more! Once harvested, the crab is returned to the water where the claw will regenerate in approximately 12-24 months.
The stone crab gets its name from their extremely hard shells and the claws must be cracked prior to eating – an art form in and of itself! Stone crabs have a delicious, sweet flavor and their texture is somewhere between the delicacy of crab and the decadence of lobster. They are traditionally served with a mustard sauce which complements the delicious meat although many prefer to eat them plain with nothing at all. Many establishments are know for their mustard sauce and there’s some debate as to which type of sauce is the best. Some folks lean towards a spicy mustard sauce (like us!) while others tend towards sweet with the addition of some honey. Which type of mustard sauce do you prefer if any at all?
Wine pairing suggestions: In order to complement the texture and flavor of the crab as well as the tanginess of the mustard sauce, opt for wines with notes of citrus and stone fruit with a racy, cleansing acidity. Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, and unoaked Chardonnay are wonderful choices to pair with Florida Stone Crabs. Here are our recommendations available at The Wine Atelier:
1.) Champagne Ayala Brut Majeur, Champagne, France, NV ($44) – a light, fresh style of Champagne which will complement the texture of the crab meat beautifully!
2.) Round Pond Estate Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford, California ($20) – notes of juicy citrus and white flowers characterize this California beauty!
3.) Banfi La Pettegola Vermentino, IGT Toscana, Italy, 2013 ($20) – light and bright with notes of green apple, apricot & grapefruit with a racy acidity!
4.) Drouhin Vaudon Chablis, Burgundy, France, 2012 ($25) – Notes of apple, citrus, and white peach characterize this mouth watering Chardonnay!
The Cambridge Dictionary defines the word “icon” as: “relating to or characteristic of a famous person or thing that represents something of importance.” While we’re accustomed to hearing this word used to refer to a person, what exactly does “icon” mean when used to refer to a wine? Much like Joan Rivers was a true comedic icon, the term refers... Read More
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