Champagne, Chocolate and Cheese

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L to R: Francois Gigandet, H. Blin; Terry Tomasello, Domaine Wine Distributor; Karl Vivier, A Cocoa Affair; Ted Field, Domaine Wine Distributor

What more could you ask for? I recently attended this event hosted by Domaine Distributors that featured Champagnes from producer H. Blin, hand-crafted chocolates custom created to pair with each Champagne by Karl Vivier, owner of Cocoa Affair, and a beautiful selection of artisan cheeses from Caly Road Creamery, provided by owner Robin Schick.

Francois  Gigandet, from H. Blin, traveled all the way from France to pour his Champagnes and tell us about their vineyards, their processes, and just share his knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm with us. He hand carried 27 of these lovely glasses on the plane and told me I should never drink from a flute!

We sampled 7 Champagnes (pictured below) and they were all amazing. Each was special in it’s own way. If I had to choose, my #1 would be the Vintage. Champagne only produces a “Vintage” blend when the year is absolutely outstanding — after tasting this 2008 Vintage, I can easily concur that 2008 must have been outstanding. This one was fruity and biscuity and complex and I j’adored it!

The remaining six I would have a difficult time putting in order of preference. They were all delicious and had a unique feature that made it special in its own right. H. Blin uses sustainable growing practices in all of their vineyards, however, several hectares are certified organic, producing the organic L’Esprit Naturale, which also has no dosage. *

The Blanc De Noirs is is 100% Pinot Meunier which I think is quite unique, I had never tasted a 100% Pinot Meunier Champagne before.  Perhaps not so surprising when you discover that H. Blin is located in the Vincelles village in the Champagne region, an area know for the Pinot Menuier variety.  All Champagnes are produced primarily with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Menuier.  Pinot Menuier usually takes a much smaller role than 100%, or even the 80% that shows in the Brut and Demi- Sec.

 

Did I mention each had a custom chocolate hand crafted to specifically pair with it? Sadly, I did not get a good photo of all 7 pairings, but just look at these gorgeous examples:

Left: Pear jam, mango-passion fruit, milk chocolate ganache, and toasted oat – paired with the Vintage Champagne.

Center: Raspberry and curry leaf ganache, a hint of Espelette pepper and smoked paprika – paired with the Rose.

Right: Mandarin-mango ganache, grapefruit zest, violet tea and a hint of orange – paired with L’Esprit Nature.

You can find A Cocoa Affair here.

Robin from Caly Road told us the cheese was there for “after, when you get hungry” but let me tell you, her cheeses would go well with any wine, and these Champagnes were no exception. Caly Road Creamery is the only retailer to currently carry ALL of the wines distributed by Domaine so if you are looking for any one of the gems they distribute, and a fabulous cheese to pair with it, please stop in and see Robin at Caly Road Creamery.

If you love Champagne, seek out H. Blin. The Champagnes they produce are not only unique but produced with incredible quality and care. And, if you ever have a chance to meet Francois, well, you will be charmed I’m sure. img_2299-1

*For an excellent source of information and a quick Champagne 101, check out Wine Folly .

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