Everyone is over winter. OVER. But there’s nothing like an awesome all-Champagne dinner to brighten your cold and slushy night.
Marika Vida-Arnold, the wine director at the Ritz’s Auden Bistro, puts together Phenomenal Femmes wine dinners throughout the year to showcase wines made by women. At yet another fantastic one last week, I had dinner with Maison Ruinart winemaker Amélie Chatin and 6 of her incredible Champagnes.
Over many many many bubbles, I learned a few amazing things:
1 sometimes I like blanc de blancs
Champagne is traditionally made with one white grape (Chardonnay) and two red grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). When only Chardonnay is used, they call it blanc de blancs (“white of whites”). Most people go crazy for it, but I’m in a very small minority who always likes a blanc de noirs instead. I really liked the Ruinart blanc de blancs though – and luckily, because we had four! The 2004 was more elegant, racy, and minerally, the 2002 was rounder and had a deeper fruit to it, while the non-vintage ($80 here) was super delicate and fresh – could kill a bottle of that pretty quickly! And with cheese, we had the 1998, which was nutty but in a fresh almond way. Great with the triple cream brie.
2 foie gras and Ruinart rosé is MIND-BLOWING
If you’re a foie-gras-eating hater, scroll past this part. If you’re not, go have this food-wine combo immediately. The meatiness and the rosé, the fat and the bubbles – BOOM. We had two rosés: the first was the Non-Vintage and was amazing! It smelled like the light, refreshing watermelon juice you get on an island and the flavor was just full of light pomegranate, rose petals and a little lychee. Loved it. ($90 here, way worth it.) The next was the 2002 Dom Ruinart rosé. This one’s about $300 and was the fave of everyone at the table (aside from me – JOY, so rare I like the cheaper one haha.) This was a little deeper with dry roses, teakwood, and more dried red berry. The non-vintage had 45% Chardonnay and the 2002 had 80% Chardonnay – back to point #1, I always like the Champagnes with more Pinot Noir!
3 not a lot of Ruinart is sold in the US
I’d always heard of Ruinart, but thought it was really weird that I’d never had it until this dinner. It certainly doesn’t make as much as some of the other huge Champagne houses, but they sell most of it in France – hence, why you probably haven’t had a ton of it either.
4 chocolate on salad – what???
We had this amazing salad of beets, greens, and oranges with chocolate shavings on top. Who would’ve ever thought of that wacky pairing? The chef, Mark Arnao. Genius.
And btw, the Parkerhouse rolls there are the DEATH of me. I had to take a pic of them this time because I’m obsessed and have zero ability to resist them.
As always, part of the proceeds from the Phenomenal Femmes dinner goes to the Women’s Shelter at Crossroads Community Services at St. Bart’s church in NYC.