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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Champagne Palmer Makes Holiday Gatherings Brighter

Champagne Palmer & Co. Brut Reserve, NV

Cost: $59-61

We are approaching prime sparkling wine time so I thought I would start sharing some recommendations for sparklers.

Of course, I love to drink Champagne and other sparkling wines all year long, but most of us seem to think we need to wait for special occasions to drinking sparkling wine. So with Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and other holidays coming up now is when most of us start to think about sparkling wine.

One of my most recent discoveries is Champagne Palmer & Co. Brut Reserve, NV ($59-61). It is a true Champagne and worth the splurge, an elegant option for any holiday or special occasion.

One special occasion you could aim for is October 18, the 10th annual Champagne Day. If you want to participate in the fun, post on your favorite social media platform with the hashtag #ChampagneDay. You can go to the website https://www.champagneday2019.com/ to get details, trivia and a sweepstakes.

In the glass the Palmer is a beautiful pale gold with never ending tiny bubbles. Complex aromas of citrus, pear and apricot lead to tantalizing citrus and apricot flavors that linger. A buttery brioche flavor, typical of the best Champagnes, also is prominent. The bubbles keep the wine fresh for hours. It is a balanced, refreshing wine, everything you could hope for in a sparkler.

The blend is 50-55 percent chardonnay, 35-40 percent pinot noir and 10-15 percent pinot meunier with reserve wines making up 30-35 percent of the blend.

This is the flagship wine for Champagne Palmer, with the grapes coming from the most prestigious terroirs in Champagne, mostly premier cru and grand cru vineyards. Much of the fruit comes from the Montagne de Reims (Mailly, Verzenay, Chigny, Trépail, Villers-Marmery).

After the wine is bottled, Palmer gives it the time necessary to develop greatness. It spends four years in a maze of deep, chalky cellars 60 feet below ground. This helps develop refinement and complexity.

Champagne should be served at 44-48 degrees. Your refrigerator usually is in the 30s, so I would leave it out for 15 minutes or so before opening.

Champagne is one of those drinks that seems to bring out the artist in all of us. There are many great Champagne quotes, but one of my favorites is from famed French designer Coco Chanel: “I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not.”

Winery: Palmer & Co. started as an association of seven grower-families who held premier cru and grand cru vineyards in the Montagne de Reims region of Champagne.

They shared a vision of harmony, balance and pursuit of excellence in their Champagne.

In 1959 they bought cellars from an established Champagne house in Reims and bought another large cellar nearby in 1997. Palmer & Co. holds more than 1,000 acres of vineyards, about half of which are Premier and Grand Crus.

The company cites three pillars of its business:

Blending is key to making the style of Champagne it wants. Reserve wines play an essential role in finding the right blend. Each wine is selected according to its structure and aging potential, lending richness and depth and ensuring the consistency of style.

All Palmer & Co. wines spend a long time aging on the lees. The Brut Reserve ages for four years, all vintage cuvées spend six to eight years and magnums and large format bottles spend 10 years or more aging. The legal requirement of non-vintage bottles is 18 months and vintage bottles three years.

The Palmer style is characterized by freshness, elegance and balance developed by the marriage of the art of blending with technical precision.

Palmer & Co. uses a Solera (or perpetual reserve) system developed in Jerez for producing sherry. They have three Soleras in two stages, the first in oak casks for the new vintage and the second in stainless steel vats.

The red wine Solera creates the rosé reserve cuvée, while the chardonnay Solera goes into the wines of Palmer Brut Reserve. The pinot noir Solera is used in the blend of Palmer Blanc de Noirs.

Palmer & Co. is headquartered in Reims where they also have an extensive art collection.

Visitors also can taste the wine and exceptional food at the Domaine du Chalet, an estate reflecting the best that the French have to offer. Nestled in the village of Chigny-les-Roses, in the Montagne de Reims regional nature park, the Domaine du Chalet was built in 1860 and is one of the exceptional heritage estates in the Champagne region.

Visitors also can stay in one of four suites in the house and another that is 30 feet up in the branches of a red beech tree.

Goes with: We had this with sherried shrimp, a perfect dish for hot weather when you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

The pairing was terrific, with the the warm, rich mouthfeel of the Champagne matching the citrus and butter flavors in the shrimp dish. And we could sip a little bit of the Champagne while I cooked and Teri made salads.

This wine would pair with most things you could make, including sea bass, lobster, chicken, many dishes with a cream sauce or with a variety of appetizers.

Damien Litaudon, chef at the House of Palmer & Co. suggests everything from sushi to grilled fish to shellfish to ceviche to complement the selection.

Here’s the recipe:

 

Sherried Shrimp

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    4 tablespoons butter

    2 cloves garlic

    1 dried chile pepper cut in pieces (or one teaspoon red pepper flakes)

    1/2 bell pepper, diced

    1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

    3 tablespoons lemon juice 3 tablespoons dry sherry

    1 tablespoon Morton nature’s seasons

    1 teaspoon paprika

    salt and pepper to taste

    1 bunch parsley, chopped

     

    Heat oil and butter in a saute pan. Add garlic and chile pepper and cook over medium heat for two minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until they start to turn pink, 2-3 minutes. Add the bell pepper. Add lemon juice, sherry, nature’s seasons, paprika, salt and pepper; mix well, cook until liquid is hot. Sprinkle in parsley, stir and serve over angel hair pasta.

(One pound of shrimp made an entree for two.)


If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at dennis@bottlereport.com

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