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Journal

Henri of Henri's Reserve
 
April 10, 2014 | Henri of Henri's Reserve

Pink Champagne for Spring...

I get a bit twitchy - a very clever American word - when people call my darlings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pink Champagne. A tad retro wouldn't you say? But I guess that is their color n’est-pas? In France we call them rosés.

Okay, mon ami, let's equip you with some good information... 

So rosés  are made from red grapes, oui? Mais non, Champagne grapes (chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier) produce white “juice” and it is just the skins that are red. (Yes, this confuses even my Parisian friends…but of course not my Burgundy friends, they love a chance to make my city friends feel naive.)

So how do we make “pink” Champagne (ah, I mean rosé)? Rosé Champagnes are generally made in the same way as blanc (white) Champagnes. However, to get that exquisite rosé color and profile, an extra step is needed. There are two ways:

1. Rosé de Saignée: In a rosé de saignée (such as a Billiot) the juice is allowed to sit for a longer period with the red grape skins, picking up some of the red pigment. The subsequent wine* will have this light red color.
2. Blending: Many rosé Champagnes are made by blending in a red still wine with white Champagne (à la Dumangin). In other words, the producers ferment some red grapes separately to make a red wine and this is later blended in with the white Champagne.

Champagne snobs believe saignée to be the best method, but, as Americans say, I let the Champagnes speak for themselves.

Now go and impress your friends**. But first let’s enjoy a flute, or three, or four of some of my rosé darlings.

*Oui, Champagnes are wines - just wine that has been fermented twice.
**See rosé food pairings to show them the true gourmand you are!
 

Time Posted: Apr 10, 2014 at 8:38 AM
Henri of Henri's Reserve
 
February 27, 2014 | Henri of Henri's Reserve

And the Oscar Goes To....Henri's Truffled Popcorn...

Henri's Truffled Popcorn with Sea Salt & Shaved Pecorino

  • 2 Bags of Plain Microwave Popcorn
  • 3 oz. D'Artagnan Black Truffle Butter
  • 1/2 cup Shaved Pecorino Cheese
  • A Sprinkling of Sea Salt to Taste

And mon ami, the Pierre Peters Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs would an exquisite complement.

Time Posted: Feb 27, 2014 at 12:15 PM
Henri of Henri's Reserve
 
November 20, 2013 | Henri of Henri's Reserve

Terroir [teh-RWAHR]

 

Mon ami, forgive us. Terroir is one of our most impossible to translate French terms. But, let Henri (that would be moi) try. It loosely translates “sense of place” – the geography, geology, climate & soul of the land. "Excellent terroir" is a badge of honor.

Foodies rave over it in artisanal coffees, chocolates, cheeses....and always wine.   A chardonnay from an east-facing hillside vineyard in Napa can be very different from one in the Russian River Valley - mais non? 

Yes, it matters in bubbly too. My small, family estate Champagnes (aka grower champagnes) show you what every master sommelier is seeking…bubblies that express the unique terroirs of the finest estates in Champagne...something simply impossible to do with mass production.

P.S. Don’t ask a Burgundy lover about terroir - you just don’t have enough time mon ami!

Time Posted: Nov 20, 2013 at 4:23 AM
Henri of Henri's Reserve
 
October 23, 2013 | Henri of Henri's Reserve

Olivia Interviews Henri

Ah, ma chérie- well then ask away…

Your name: Henri (Silly Olivia, wasn’t that obvious?)

Your occupation: Bon vivant, lover of life (Yes, Americans always want to know “what do you do?”)

Where you grew up: On my grandmother’s vineyard in the 
Côtes de Blancs

Where you live now: Paris (The Marais), Épernay, New York

What do you value most in friends: Loyalty, wit and the ability to saber a bottle of Champagne in a moving car at night
The best sound of the day: «Pop!»

If you could eat/drink anything now what would it be: Popcorn with truffle butter & shaved pecorino cheese…and of course one of my exquisite Blanc de Blancs
Pickup line: Olivia, phuleez! Only American men need pickup lines
What I would like to understand about American women: What they do at the thing called “book club”?

Olivia! Enough, enough, enough…let’s pop some corks! Perhaps your favorite, the Larmandier-Bernier?


 

Henri of Henri's Reserve
 
June 28, 2013 | Henri of Henri's Reserve

Sabering 101 ~ Channelling Napoleon

"In Victory We Deserve Champagne...

In Defeat We Need It."

- Napoleon

Le Sabrage (a.k.a. sabering a bottle of champagne) became popular after the French Revolution when the saber was the weapon of choice of Napoleon's fearsome light cavalry (the Hussars).  

One of the tales about this tradition is that Madame Clicquot hosted victory parties in her vineyard, and as the dashing officers rode off in the early morning they would gallantly saber a bottle of Champagne to impress the rich young widow. (Now, of course, they would drink from my Reserve - in the company of an exquisite beauty.)

So Let's Bring Out Your inner Hussar...

Step #1: Choose Your Weapon
Be bold. If you've purchased a pricey Champagne saber, whip it out. Otherwise, a solid butcher's knife will do just fine. Have some glasses (and maybe a couple of towels) handy.

Step #2: Have Very Cold Champagne Mon Ami
Be sure to start with a bottle of Champagne that is very cold (38-40°F, tops). Remove the foil wrapper and little wire cage. This will make for a clean break, although some people say it's not necessary to remove the packaging.

Step #3: Grab It (by the derriere as we French say)
Grasp the bottle properly. That would be firmly, by the base, and pointed away from any onlookers. Hold it at a 30-degree to 45-degree angle. Find one of the two vertical seams running up the side of the bottle to the lip. That intersection with the lip is where the bottle will break most cleanly, and that's where you want to aim your stroke.

Step #4: Don't Succumb to Performance Anxiety...Be Bold &Take Action
Hold the knife flat against the bottle, blunt edge toward the top with the sharp edge facing you. Run your saber or knife slowly back along the seam toward your body. Then, quickly and firmly thrust it back up the seam toward the bottle's tip. Strike the lip sharply, making sure the leading edge stays down and in toward the crook of the lip. Apply a solid follow-through.

Step 5: Get it in the Glass (unless you are christening a boat)
If you've performed the task properly, the cork (with a ring of glass around it) will fly off the end of the bottle. You'll then begin pouring the bubbly, and humbly say "a little trick I learned from Henri" and offer a very clever toast.

Beware mon ami ~ like the Napoleonic Wars, this is not without its hazards. May I reccomend a few successful efforts before trying on horseback?

Time Posted: Jun 28, 2013 at 6:28 AM
Henri of Henri's Reserve
 
March 24, 2013 | Henri of Henri's Reserve

Planning Easter (Pâques) Brunch?

Bonjour mon ami,

Planning an Easter brunch? Wanting to do something special and innovative? Perhaps impress your friends with your Champagne savoir faire?

If you haven’t discovered them already, may I introduce you to blanc de noirs? Blanc de noirs are made from 100% pinot noir grapes. So just like the wine, they are rich, smoky, spicy and pair beautifully with savory dishes like eggs, smoked salmon, etc…

May I suggest a boutique Champagne from my Reserve? Fleury “Carte Rouge” will impress in every way.

Bon appetit!
Henri

My boutique Champagnes are all “grower producers “ (a trade term meaning the Champagne is produced on a private estate, by the same family who grows the grapes). For more on the terroir, artistry, and legacies of these families please visit “The Houses”.

Henri of Henri's Reserve
 
September 24, 2012 | Henri of Henri's Reserve

Sips with Jean-Hervé Chiquet of Jacquesson

Harvest at Jacquesson

Ah, the fall harvest and those voluptuous little grapes.
The fruits of long labor and the beginning of something exquisite. From mid-September 'til early October, my dear friends in Champagne painstakingly study the vineyards, night and day ~ all to capture those goddess-like treasures at the precise moment of perfection.
A fine art not a science. God bless the vingerons!

The oh-so charming, Jean-Hervé Chiquet, proprietor of the famed House of Jacquesson, tells us about their 2012 Harvest.

H: What do you love most about harvest?
JHC: When it’s a super vintage and it’s over! More seriously, it’s Mother Nature’s gift after one year of hard work but it’s also when every single gesture is so important; you have to be quick and precise to extract all the potential of the vintage.

H: Do you have any special harvest traditions?
JHC: The main one is the big barbecue at the end. (More about that below mes amis.)

H: How do you decide what date to start the harvest? For chardonnay grapes? For Pinot noir?
JHC: By checking the ripeness everyday and tasting the grapes: it’s a mix of analysis and feeling.

H: What is different about harvest this year?
JHC: Horrible weather during most of the year brought a difficult flowering and a lot of mildew, so it’s a small crop and many bunches don’t look healthy. But the weather has been good for the past few weeks letting us expect a tiny but very good vintage

H: Do you work around the clock during Harvest? Get any sleep?
JHC: Not really around the clock but the days are pretty long. And you need some sleep to work properly over two weeks: working fast is not enough.

H: Tell us about the Riots of 2011 and how that changed the course of history for your family?
JHC: No such things in France last year, fortunately. But you mean the Riots of 1911 of course! No idea of what really happened; even my grand-parents were too young to really remember.

H: How long is it from picking the grapes until we get to pop the cork?
JHC: Four years minimum for the Cuvée 700, nine years minimum for the single vineyards, 15 years or more for the late disgorged vintages

H: If you could only choose one of your treasures to serve at a dinner this Fall which would it be and why?
JHC: Dizy Corne Bautray 2002 because it’s a very good example of a great terroir in a superb vintage, associating ripeness, depth and minerality and because it’s one of the best match with oysters you can think about. And I love oysters!

H: How do you celebrate when harvest is over?
JHC: Inviting all the pickers, all the staff, wives and husbands, to a huge barbecue at Jacquesson with some good bottles of wine.

H: Jacquesson is described by wine critics as "the Connoisseur's Champagne". If you had to pick one reason, (among the many), what makes that true?
JHC: Our absolute dedication to the best viticulture possible.


 

Time Posted: Sep 24, 2012 at 10:56 AM
Henri of Henri's Reserve
 
September 6, 2012 | Henri of Henri's Reserve

Pan-Bagnet

 

Literally translated "bathed bread", Pan-Bagnet is a salad Nicoise sandwich...very popular in Provence -- my guests love this recipe.

Ingredients:

1 wide baguette or round white French country bread
extra virgin oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 very small garlic clove minced
2 anchovy fillets minced
1/2 red onion finely sliced into rings
pitted olives Nicoise
capers
1 english cucumber sliced thinly
crisp lettuce
2 hard-boiled eggs sliced
1 jar premium tuna packed in olive oil, drained

Instructions:

1. Cut the bread in size portions and then cut them in half lengthways and scoop out some of the bread filling.

2. Drizzle the bread with olive oil, spread out the minced garlic and anchovy and season with pepper.

3. Fill the hollowed out half with lettuce leaves, red onion slices, cucumbers, olives, capers and tuna.

4. Put the other half of bread on top and wrap snugly in foil.

5. Put a heavy object on top of the sandwiches such as a book or books to flatten it. Leave for an hour or two before serving.

Time Posted: Sep 6, 2012 at 8:43 PM
Henri of Henri's Reserve
 
September 6, 2012 | Henri of Henri's Reserve

Boy Meets Girl

 

In August, on the plane on my way from NYC to the Côte d'Azure, and a well deserved vacation, I was seated next to a femme magnifique. My habit of either working or trying to catch up on sleep any time I´m on plane just had to be altered -- I also told myself to let go of any vain hope that dear Olivia would ever be more just a friend.

I struck up a conversation with the wonderful creature next to me, an absolutely charming American named Audrey. After a while we, of course, reached the topic of Champagne and, to my delight, she seemed interested in my latest obsession: the growing trend of organic and biodynamic winemaking in the Champagne region. We discussed everything from my admiration for the wonderfully crisp and clean Champagnes that Pierre and Sophie Larmandier produce to the pioneering spirit of the Fleury family. (Jean-Pierre Fleury started experimenting with sustainable wine making in the 1970's and the estate is now the largest biodynamic producer in all of Champagne.)

After hours of talking, I finally built up enough courage to ask Audrey to join me for a late (very!) summer picnic lunch on the beach this weekend at Eze-Sur-Mer, where I would be staying with friends. My heart was beating fast and my palms were sweating while I was waiting for her answer (Yes, this happens to French men too!) To my relief, Audrey said that she would be happy to accept my offer and would come up from nearby Nice, where she would be staying.

Well the weekend is almost here and I'm very excited to be putting together our rendezvous.

Here's My plan:

I will first take her on a tour of the cliffside, ancient village of Eze, with its fabulous views over the Mediterranian and St. Jean-Cap Ferrat. If we feel brave enough we will hike down the steep Chemin de Nietzsche or Nietzsche's path to the sea. (The philosopher vacationed here in the 1880's.) I'll have to remind Audrey to wear good walking shoes!

Down at the pebbled beach, we'll stop my friend's house and pick up a blanket and the picnic basket that I will have had prepared for Audrey. I thought that it would be lovely to enjoy some of the Champagnes we discussed on the plane, paired with a few local specialties.

We'll start with a glass of Larmandier Bernier's Terre de Vertus. It's a Blanc de Blancs and a non-dosage wine. This Champagne is perfect at the beginning of a meal. It's elegant with toasty citrus fruit flavors and underlying minerality. While delicate, it has enough richness so that we can enjoy it with Bigorre ham, a few goat cheeses from the area and some rustic bread.

Our second glass will be of Fleury's Carte Rouge. It's a Blanc de Noirs and is made only from Pinot Noir grapes. It is a wonderful food Champagne: it is powerful but still fresh with berryish and biscuitty qualities. I have decided to pair this Champagne with a Pan-bagnat (literally translated, "bathed bread"). A Pan-bagnat is a salad Nicoise sandwich that is very popular in Provence -- you'll love my recipe below!

I'll also need something sweet for my sweet Audrey. As a near-purist when it comes to Champagne, I hardly ever drink Champagne cocktails. I do though love the Rose Royal served at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris: they just place freshly crushed raspberries in a Champagne glass and pour Champagne over them. Simply delicious! I will, of course, have some fresh raspberries and strawberries for us to nibble on.

So dear readers, wish me luck!

Pan-bagnat


Ingredients:

1 wide baguette or round white French country bread
extra virgin oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 very small garlic clove minced
2 anchovy fillets minced
1/2 red onion finely sliced into rings
pitted olives Nicoise
capers
1 english cucumber sliced thinly
crisp lettuce
2 hard-boiled eggs sliced
1 jar premium tuna packed in olive oil, drained

Instructions:

1. Cut the bread in size portions and then cut them in half lengthways and scoop out some of the bread filling.

2. Drizzle the bread with olive oil, spread out the minced garlic and anchovy and season with pepper.

3. Fill the hollowed out half with lettuce leaves, red onion slices, cucumbers, olives, capers and tuna.

4. Put the other half of bread on top and wrap snugly in foil.

5. Put a heavy object on top of the sandwiches such as a book or books to flatten it. Leave for an hour or two before serving.

 

Champagne Facts:

"Organic Farming" means that the grapes are grown without using herbicides, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or genetically modified seeds.

"Biodynamic" method of farming is a holistic management approach that incorporates organic farming, but also treats the vineyard as it's own self-sustaining ecosystem. (The vineyard is managed as a living organism, not just rows of grapevines and there is a strong emphasis on the relationship between plants, soil, animals and the lunar cycle.)

"Blanc de Blancs" literally means "white of whites" and that the Champagne is made from only Chardonnay grapes.

"Blanc de Noirs" means "white from blacks" and that the Champagne is made from only black grapes (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or a blend of the two).

"Zero Dosage" means that the winemaker skips adding the small amount of sweet wine that is usually added to the still wine just before bottling.

 

 

Time Posted: Sep 6, 2012 at 7:53 PM
Henri of Henri's Reserve
 

Host a Bastille Day Soirée

Alas, mes amis, while Paris will not be the same without our presence for this year's Bastille Day festivities, Olivia and Frederick insist we throw a Champagne soirėe to celebrate with close friends at THE best place - "the Garden of Eden", my home in Champagne.


Why the celebration? For the French, my dear friends, the July 14, 1789 storming of the Bastille (a fortress and prison in Paris) by an angry mob marked the beginning of the French revolution, the demise of the monarchy and the birth of modern France. In France, Bastille Day is referred to as La Fête Nationale or just plainly le quatorze juillet (July 14th). Festivities are held throughout France, and in my village we celebrate with dancing, music and parties in the street, and of course, the piece de resistance - a spectacular fireworks display.

"Paris again, Henri?" The slight hint of sarcasm in Olivia's voice insisted on a different type of celebration this year. So, mes amis, I can't think of a better way for all to celebrate than to indulge in my reserve of artisanal Champagnes paired with some simple and delicious foods. Create your own unique village celebration with the suggestions that follow - viva la difference!

How to Set the Mood
Decorate your party space in the colors of the drapeau tricolore (the French flag). Most of us have white tableware so just adding red and blue napkins will put a French twist on things. (You might even have some left over from celebrating 4th of July.) Add a lovely touch by adding bouquets of red, blue and white flowers around the room.

Use coupe glasses for the Champagne. Legend has it that the coupe glass was molded from Marie Antoinette's left breast….as Frederick, would say, "talk about a personalized gift!"

Of course, it wouldn't be Bastille Day without singing La Marseillaise (the French national anthem) a few times, how fun it would be to request that your guests bring their favorite French (or French-themed) music. I love Edith Piaf and Malcolm McLaren's Paris album.

Add real joie de vive - encourage your guests to dress up a la 1790! Or at least in their favorite French designer's latest creation!

What to Drink and Serve
I'm a big believer in keeping things simple. Hosting parties should be fun, not a source of anxiety! For example, if you're not set on exactly what kind of Champagne you're planning to serve, I would recommend ordering my Tasting Sampler. It's a great way to let your guests sample three different styles of Champagne. It also makes for great conversation -- who doesn't love to compare notes on which wine went particularly well with a certain dish?!

Bastille Day is not associated with any particular food. This gives you the flexibility to serve your favorite French dishes without feeling that you're breaking with tradition. In this instance, I'm going to take advantage of how wonderfully Champagne pairs with salty, savory and rich foods. However, I will not at all feel offended if you create your own menu.


Henri's Menu


Oysters

French Baguettes

Aged Gouda, Parmesan, Brie, Chėvre

French Dry Salami known as 'Saucisson Sec'

Smoked Salmon with Crėme Fraîche and Chives on Toasted Brioche

Gruyère Gougères

Bacon and Gruyère Quiche & Salmon and Broccoli Quiche with Herb and Salmon Roe Sauce

Raspberries and Strawberries

 

Salmon and Broccoli Quiche with Herb and Salmon Roe Sauce

Crust:
• 1-1/4 cups flour
• 10-1/2 tbsp butter
• 1 pinch salt
• 2 tbsp water

Filling:
• 3/8 lb chopped broccoli, slightly parboiled
• 1/4lb smoked salmon
• 3/4 cup cream
• 1/2 milk
• 3/4 grated gruyėre
• 3 large eggs
• 2 tbsp chopped dill
• 2 tbsp chopped chives
• 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Sauce:
• crême fraîche
• 1 tsp of French mayonnaise
• chopped dill
• chopped parsley
• chopped chives
• chopped red onion
• salmon roe
• black pepper

 

Instructions:

• Mix the ingredients for the pie crust and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 min.

• Pre-bake the crust 10 min. at 400 F.

• Combine the eggs, heavy cream, grated cheese, dill, chives and pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk until evenly blended.

• Fill the crust with the smoked salmon and parboiled broccoli. Pour over the egg mix.

• Bake for about 35 min. at 400 F, but keep checking it.

• Mix the ingredients for the sauce, cover it and put in the refrigerator.

• Remove the quiche from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. Let the quiche rest for about 20 min. before serving. Can be served hot, warm or at room temperature.


Bacon and Gruyėre Quiche

Crust:
• 1-1/4 cups flour
• 10-1/2 tbsp butter
• 1 pinch salt
• 2 tbsp water

Filling:
• 1 tbsp butter
• 1 cup minced onion
• 3 large eggs
• 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
• 3/4 cup grated gruyère cheese
• 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Instructions:

• Mix the ingredients for the pie crust and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 min.

• Pre-bake the crust 10 min. at 400 F.

• Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove and reserve.

• Combine the eggs, heavy cream, grated cheese, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk until evenly blended. Stir the bacon and onion into the egg mixture. Spread the egg mixture evenly in the quiche crust.

• Bake for about 35 min. at 400 F, but keep checking it.

• Remove the quiche from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. Let the quiche rest for about 20 min. before serving. Can be served hot, warm or at room temperature.

 

Gruyėre Gougėres
These little golden puffs are heavenly with Champagne. Makes 40 1 1/2 inch Gougères.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup water
• 1/2 cup butter
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1/4 tsp. sugar
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 2-3eggs
• 2/3 cup grated gruyère cheese
• 1 tsp. dry mustard powder
• Cayenne pepper, a couple dashes or to taste

Instructions:

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

• Add the water to a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the water is hot (steaming, but not boiling), add the butter, salt and sugar. Stir occasionally until the butter is completely melted. Lower the heat and stir the butter mixture with a wooden spoon vigorously as you gradually add the flour. Keep stirring vigorously until the mixture comes to together and starts forming a tacky ball in the pan (When you press your hand on the ball of dough it sticks but easily releases without leaving much if any dough on your hand.)

• Turn the dough out into a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat in the eggs, one at a time on medium speed. You want the dough to be smooth, firm and waxy. If your dough is not smooth after beating in two eggs, you may want to add an extra egg, or half an egg. It is important that the dough is firm enough to stand up in round balls when you spoon it onto a cookie sheet without spreading. It should be as firm as cookie dough, but it is much softer and lighter.

• After adding the eggs, use a wooden spoon to stir in the cheese, mustard and cayenne. Spoon small one inch balls of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The Gougėres are done when they are lightly browned on top and brown on the bottom. Immediately after taking them out of the oven, us a paring knife to make a small slit in the side of each puff. This will release some of the hot air inside and prevent the puffs from "sweating" and losing their crispness. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Time Posted: Jul 5, 2012 at 8:25 AM

"Let me be your personal chef de cave. Sit back, relax, and I'll choose for you."

 

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