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WINE CLUB Varietal of the Month: Champagne

True Champagne is only produced in the Champagne region of France. It is usually a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, and sometimes Pinot Meunier. They use the traditional method of bottling, which means it is bottle-fermented. The wine has gone through one fermentation in the tank and another in the bottle, which creates the bubbles. The second fermentation can take months to years, and the wine goes through a riddling process to remove yeast and sugar sediment. It is then given a sugar dosage that classifies the champagne style as Brut, Extra Dry or Sweet.

Wine of the Month: Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne
One of the oldest champagne houses in France, Florens-Louis Heidsieck was captivated by the Champagne region and wanted to create a beautiful wine to attract a lovely lady. Founded in 1785, his wine became a favorite of Marie Antoinette, and that same year he married his love, Agathe Perthois. Piper-Heidsieck Champagne has a storied past and has been a favorite Champagne of royal courts, noble families and Hollywood legends.

This champagne creates an allure with its festive, light-drenched, pale-gold shimmer and joyful display of neat, lively bubbles. Almond and fresh hazelnut notes accompany the rise of its bubbles, which are lively, subtle and light. It has a smoothness of fresh pear and apple with a hint of citrus. A blend of blonde grapes and white fruits creates a lightness embraced by the Pinot Noir.

Grapes used: 50-55%, Pinot Noir; 30-35%, Meunier; 15-20%, Chardonnay; 10-20%, reserve wines. Sugar Dosage: 10 g/l.

Food Pairings: White Fish, Shellfish, Fruit, Chocolate

Caviar-Smoked Salmon Puffs

1 box puff pastry cups
3/4 cup milk, divided
1 (4 oz) log goat cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 (3 oz) pkg smoked salmon
1 jar Plaza Caviar (available in charcuterie)
chopped chives, for garnish

Cook puff pastry cups according to package directions. (Phyllo cups can also be used if puff pastry cups are not available.) In a 2-cup measuring cup, microwave 1/2 cup milk to a simmer. Stir in goat cheese until combined. Stir in remaining milk, salt, pepper and parsley. Fill pastry cups 3/4 full with goat cheese mixture. Top with a slice of smoked salmon and 1/4 teaspoon caviar. Garnish with chives. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Makes 12 appetizer servings.

View this recipe to print or add items to your shopping list.

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Posted in: Beer & Wine, Recipes