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Read on.

And get a taste of my travels.

Journal

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

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

 

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