This is the first in a series of preview articles to grease the wheel for Vegas Uncork’d, the premier food event of the year in our city. There’ll be several others, including an interview with new Executive Editor of Bon Appetit, Adam Rappaport, before the festivities begin.
Most of us are already licking our collective chops at the thought of a tasting featuring superstars like Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy, and Pierre Gagnaire, not to mention American uber-chefs Bradley Ogden, Michael Mina, Rick Moonen and many, many others.
But the operative word in the event title refers to the humble cork, and for most of us, the first cork to be pulled comes in a champagne bottle. Yesterday, I had the privilege to speak with Rita Jammet, a First Lady of the New York dining scene when she owned the famed La Caravelle in the W. 50’s with her husband, Andre.
More than one dozen years ago, the couple launched a non-vintage champagne from Epernay, to serve in their restaurant. The restaurant closed several years ago, but encouraged by their fans and friends, the couple decided to carry on with the production to keep the brand alive.
Today, many top New York restaurants serve their three cuvees, Brut, Rose and Blanc de Blanc.
After the event, the first time the Jammets are participating, their wines will be distributed in top Vegas establishments. You’ll be filling that champagne flute at least three times at the Grand Tasting, which is held Friday evening, May 6th, in Caesars Palace Garden of the Gods.
These are classic champagnes, for every occasion. Says Jammet, “the wonderful thing about champagnes are their versatility.” Americans do drink them on New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day and on birthdays with a certain abandon, but the wine is becoming a beverage for all seasons.
She is anxious to break into the Vegas market. “I realize people come from all over the US, even all over the world here,” she says, “so we’d love to have exposure on the Strip. I like it when we are discovered.”
As to the particulars, the Brut, called Cuvee Nine, is a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 30% Pinot Meunier. It’s a pale straw color, with yeasty overtones, and a floral bouquet. Jammet likes to say it is redolent of peach and pan d’epices, what we call gingerbread. The retail price will be around $35.
Jammet told me when we spoke “everyone has a preference when it comes to the style they favor.” I’m a fan of Rose, and this example, a Brut Rose, features the same cepage (blend) that you get in the Cuvee Nine, the difference being the Bouzy reds blended in. It’s a salmon pink color, with cherry, almond and red currant perfumes on the tongue. It’s also a touch pricier, in the vicinity of $40 for a 750 ml bottle.
Finally, there is their Blanc de Blanc, as always, 100% Chardonnay, and loaded with the character of that varietal. This is a pure gold color with intense minerality, vivacious notes of citrus and a long finish. The retail price, again in the $40 range, should vault it to prominence while the event is still going on.
Tickets for Vegas Uncork’d are available at www.vegasuncorked.com. Events are scheduled May 5-8, 2011.
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