Booze Muse

The art and craft of liquid inspiration

Top of the Pops: Salon might be the champagne of Champagnes

Champagne/Sparkling Wine, Wine is Poetry in a Bottle No Comments »

ChampagneSalon1996By Michael Nagrant

You should always cook with good wine, but whoever set that rule probably didn’t expect anyone to deglaze their risotto pan with $400 Champagne like Jean-Baptiste Cristini. Cristini didn’t want me to mention this, probably because you’d think he’s some snooty rich dude. He’s not. He just happens to work for Salon and Delamotte Champagnes, and was lucky to taste some 1988 Salon that hadn’t aged well and got it as a side perk.

Such circumstance is emblematic of Cristini’s life. He’s like a younger version of the guy from Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” beer commercials, a cosmopolitan handsome 28-year-old dude who drinks Grand Cru Champagne like tap water. He hangs out in Paris on weekends with his girlfriend, a veteran chef of Michelin-starred kitchens, throws parties for friends larded with Iberico ham and trophy wines, and works as the globetrotting export director for one of the best bubbly makers in the world.

The luster of Cristini’s employer Salon/Delamotte shines even brighter. Located in the French commune of Le Mesnil sur Oger in the Côte des Blancs, Salon/Delamotte produces some of the world’s most prestigious Champagne. If you haven’t heard of Salon, you’ve likely heard of its cohorts Cristal and upstart cousin Dom Perignon which produce 300,000 and 5 million or so bottles a year respectively. If this trio of sparklers were baseball cards, Salon Champagne, which produces no more than 60,000 bottles in a vintage year, would be its Honus Wagner. Read the rest of this entry »

Grace in Bubbles: A seasonal guide to sparkling wine

Champagne/Sparkling Wine No Comments »

taittinger-grace-kellyBy Michael Nagrant

While most men of my generation rocked Kurt Cobain and “Pulp Fiction” posters in their college dorm rooms, I had a vintage poster of a Grace Kelly Taittinger champagne ad mounted above my bed at the University of Michigan. At that time, my cinematic interests were mostly of the “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” genre, but on the advice of a stoner/aspiring screenwriter I worked with, I started checking out the Hitchcock canon in my free time.

When I got to “Rear Window,” I spent the first ten minutes of the movie bored, watching the cantankerous, wheelchair-bound, pajama-clad Jimmy Stewart stare through binoculars at his neighbors. But when Grace Kelly glided through the door of Stewart’s apartment, I was smitten. My boredom shifted to wonder about a twisted world in which the bumbling, old, funny-talking dude from “It’s A Wonderful Life” would score a siren like Kelly as his girlfriend.

After that I pursued everything Grace, eventually settling on the champagne ad as a proper adolescent shrine. I’d lull my self to sleep by staring up at her form hugged by a black mermaid-cut evening dress, her generous décolletage breached by a line of shimmery golden bubbles flowing through a v-shaped Taittinger-filled flute. The propaganda worked, as this ritual eventually had me bribing my buddy from New Jersey, who had the best fake ID in Alice Lloyd Hall, to get me a bottle. Read the rest of this entry »