Thursday, January 1, 2015

27 Co2 - The Gas of Life! HAPPYNEW YEAR, 2015!

27     Co2  -- The Gas of Life!    HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2015!


Found throughout the known universe and throughout this planet in most unexpected places, Co2 is truly the gas of life…and the gas that makes Champagne sparkle,  it is the gas that brings Champagne’s alcohol to the brain twice as fast - causing the imbibers to break out in laughter and chatter.   A room-full of happy people is the loveliest place to be,  full of the sounds of life. 


Therefore I wish for each of you - in this new year 2015 – a year filled with Champagne and the gas of life.  


Madame Bollinger gave her now iconic reply when asked about when best to enjoy her delicious Champagne:   “I drink it when I am happy and when I’m sad.  Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone.  When I have company I consider it obligatory.  I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am.  Otherwise I never touch it – unless I am thirsty.” 


I often advise friends who inquire the best time to consume Champagne to keep a small refrigerator in the bedroom and to stock it with those lovely half-bottles.  You never know when some midnight a sudden envie for a half bottle of Rose Champagne might overcome any desire for sleep.  It is certain that this small serving of the gas of life will make the sleep that follows one filled with pleasant dreams.  By the way, thanks to Beatrice Frapin – when she directed Champagne Gosset -  and to Champagne GH Mumm,  Champagne’s governing board, the CIVC, directed, some years ago, that the then spreading practice of transferring into half bottles instead of making the Champagne in the bottle, must end. So today any Champagne house that produces half bottles must make them in the time-honored tradition of success, the Methode Champenoise, or in the bottles which the happy consumer will stock a small refrigerator.    


So, whether you prefer a Brut non-vintage blended from the three most used grapes, the Pinot Noir, the Pinot Meunier, and the Chardonnay, a Brut vintage perhaps made from a blend of the three but from a single year, a Brut Blanc de Blancs made of only Chardonnay, a Brut Blanc de Noirs, made from black grapes, a brut Sauvage totally dry, or a Demi Sec for dessert, do follow Madame Lily Bollinger’s advice and drink Champagne often.

2014 was a year in which many wonderful things happened to me:  Thanks to my new friends at Telemachus Press I published two books, my history of civilization according to wine book,
The Night Julius Caesar Invented Champagne,
and a memoire of my friendship with Julia Child,
Bouter en Avant!  Full Speed Ahead with Julia Child, a memoire of friendship; I celebrated happy times with dear friends and have had many friends from the past return into my life; in Las Vegas I toured the Lou Ruvo Center for Keeping the Memory Alive and, over glasses of Perrier Jouet Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru, spoke about wine to an amazing group of fifty women sommeliers.  Truly 2014 was a year in which the Gas of Life, Co2, sparkled often.

And in 2014 there were sad events of course:  Just as I was publishing my blog on the great and historic wine-maker, dear friend and former colleague, Antonio Mastroberardino, I learned of his death; and just as I was reaching for the phone to continue an on-going conversation with another loved friend and former colleague, Filippo de Belardino, I learned of his death.  These men bring the Gas of Life into the universe with themselves, making the stars brighter.


2015 looms large with possibilities.  May we each and all embrace it with zest and optimism!  Madam Champagne wishes us all Champagne Toujours!


Happy New Year!  




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

blog 26 Larry Ruvo is a Champagne Hero

LARRY RUVO, is Mr. Las Vegas!  And, definitely a Champagne man!

Someone who well-knows that we create our own luck is
Mr. Modern-Day Las Vegas.   After all, his is the extraordinary talent
which created the gastronomy and architecture of what is known,
world-wide, as Vegas.   Larry Ruvo is the founder and senior managing director of Southern Wines and Spirits of Nevada.  
Larry is a man who acts on his visions to make the best possible future happen.   And the results
are not Lady Luck; they are because of the dedication and hard work
of such a visionary as Larry.

One of Larry’s initial lucky-spins was the result of years of preparation
and of fortuitous convergences.  Larry, highly regarded for his wine
and cuisine appreciation and knowledge,  surrounded himself with the
best of Chefs from around the globe; then the computer came into its own;
and next The Wine Spectator was cutting-edge ready to spread the word
about what was happening in Las Vegas.

All factors converged, and Larry took that lucky-spin, and Las Vegas
came out the winner.  First among the star Chefs to heed his call
and saunter the gold-brick road into Las Vegas was Mark Miller,
chef and creator of Santa  Fe’s Coyote Café, where
“the food is so good it makes you howl.”  
Next, Larry’s good friend, Wolfgang Puck put his hand to the wheel
and won, bringing Spago to Caesar’s Palace, as well as his Santa Monica,
California-fusion restaurant, “Chinois."

Today’s roster of famous starred restaurants serving the lucky millions, who now flood into Las Vegas has resulted in world-recognition for gastronomic excellence, all converged upon those
few miles of constant light in the Nevada desert.          

Las Vegas has a lot to thank Larry Ruvo for.  Not the least is for growth
so rapid that a whole airport expansion had to happen.  And look at the
architectural wonders, hotels growing and daily dreaming up new
and more extravagant luxury lifestyles within each; like those of Steve
Wynn with his world-class museum collections, which works of art are
often reinterpreted by Chefs into signature dishes of gastronomic art, and by
Master Sommeliers in wine collections worthy of traveling long lengths of
miles to experience.  

This brings up the Master Sommelier Club.   Vegas’s explosion
of Master Sommeliers is another wonder to thanks Larry for.  I recently
experienced a meeting of one group of more than fifty women, most
Master Sommeliers, “Women Gone Wine.”   It is an ebullient, effervescent
and talented group of women celebrating the wonders of great wines. 
Without the vision of Larry Ruvo such a unique group would not exist.
Spearheaded by Kristi Smith, Director of Southern Wines and Spirits
Rare Liquid Assets division – (an idea Larry encouraged and promotes proudly)
this group of women certainly epitomizes a zest for knowledge and life.  
I was thrilled to be a guest at their recent meeting, which began with Champagne
Perrier Jouet Blanc de Blanc on the Bellagio hotel’s gallery before a tour
of the art gallery’s feature of Women Artists such as Mary Cassatt (first American,
first woman invited to exhibit with the Impressionists) and Marie Louise Vigee leBrun, (portraitist of her friend, Marie Antoinette in happy days), before adjourning  to the hotel’s gourmet kitchen for discussion of wine and gastronomy.

I  was privileged to speak about my wine book, The Night Julius Caesar Invented
Champagne, as well as the great blanc de blanc we enjoyed from Perrier-Jouet.

Not all of Las Vegas is found in or around the hotels and casinos
of Vegas’s “Strip”.  Not far away, Las Vegas actually has a real downtown.
And, OMG, has it changed in the last decade, springing up renewed,
with a professional theatre complex and restaurants, and charming, well-maintained and planted streets for family strolling.   

And, there, within this charming urban setting, Larry Ruvo’s foresight
and love for his father, Lou, has once again created a marvel that
might very-well change our whole world:  his joint-venture with renown
Cleveland Clinic hospital is today the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center
For Brain Health, specializing in the cornerstones of the Cleveland Clinic -  patient care, research, and medical education.     To make it noticeable
so that this important vision of his garners the attention it deserves,
Larry has housed this Brain Health Center in a remarkable Frank Gehry building that incorporates  the multi-facets of this center for brain health. 
The “motto” of this medical facility is “Keeping the Memory Alive.” 
Not only for the cure and care of Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Multiple System Atrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, is cutting-edge research happening.
Lou Ruovo Center for Brain Health.jpg

Research results are translated to specially-designed
facilities for diagnosis and patient care all housed in this facility.
Beyond diagnosis and therapy for Alzheimers, there are facilities for
treatment and rehabilitative physical therapy care for those with brain
disorders, often caused by trauma of sports.  An interactive and productive
source of care for degenerative memory loss happens between those
recovering from sports-related disorders and older patients who are
stimulated working with former sports’ legends, sparring with world-class
 boxers or line-backers.

 Larry’s Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center’s medical staff is led by Dr. Jeffrey
Cummings and his team of researchers and physicians and technicians.  Jeffrey_Cummings

 What would such a magnificent center be without the needed stimulus that
  gastronomy and activity bring to all involved?  Larry’s dear friend, Wolfgang
  Puck, designed the professional kitchen from which great events begin, well
  and professionally staffed by Las Vegas’s finest chefs.   

   The events center in Frank Gehry’s domed immensity is truly alive with
   activities meant to focus on the positive: lights, music, action – a magnificent
   facility to create and celebrate life within.
  To me, the icing on such a fabulous cake is the Executive Health Program,  designed for leaders in all fields who are daily under stress.  Here at the
Lou Ruvo Center the Wellness Institute’s Preventative medicine  examination
is specially designed to really keep the memory alive. 

Larry has thought of everyone in this magnificent center celebrating brain health.

 It is eminently obvious that Larry Ruvo is a Champagne guy, bubbly with the gas of

life, Co2.  Sante!  To you, Larry.  Bravo! 



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

25B I hate flutes continues with Walter's great --

25B I hate flutes continues with Walter's great comments...

Dear Madeleine preference when consuming Champagne depends on the occasion (wedding/toasts or for an intimate evening) my preference would with a "Maria Antoinette's"c champagne
coupe ! However enjoying a glass at the bar with friends or by myself I prefer the champagne flute !

I don't think it is a black or white decision when it comes to choose the proper glassware for this significant nectar.

Enjoy your day with a glass of your favored champagne !!



Champagne flute[edit]

Champagne flute and bottle
The champagne flûte (fr. Flûte à Champagne) is a stem glass with a tall, narrow bowl. The bowl of a flute may resemble a narrow wine glass as seen in the illustration; or a trumpet shape; or be very narrow and straight-sided.
As with other stemware, the stem allows the drinker to hold the glass without affecting the temperature of the drink. The bowl is designed to retain champagne's signaturecarbonation, by reducing the surface area at the opening of the bowl. The flute has largely replaced the champagne coupe or saucer, the shape of which allowed carbonation to dissipate even more rapidly than from a standard wine glass. Its smaller diameter also allows more flutes to be carried on a tray.
Nucleation in a champagne glass helps form the bubbles seen in champagne. Too much nucleation will cause the carbonation to fizzle out quickly. A smoother surface area will produce fewer bubbles in the glass, and more bubble texture in the taster's mouth.
While most commonly used for sparkling wines, flutes are also used for certain beers, especially Belgian lambic and gueuze, which are brewed with wild yeast and often fruited. The tart flavor of these beers, coupled with their carbonation, makes them similar to sparkling white wines, and the champagne flute an ideal choice of glassware.

Champagne coupe
The champagne coupe or champagne saucer

25A I Hate Flutes

25A I Hate Flutes continued.  Look what Rita Petler found for her Champagne.  Gorgeous.   Magnificent. Yum. Wishing I had some. 
If you have a particular Champagne glass please send a photo.
Bubbly day to all of you.  Madam Champagne. 

Caesar is off on Zephyros looking for some of these.  RITA where did you find this?

Monday, April 28, 2014

25 I hate flutes

25.  I hate flutes.  How about You?


Have you ever tried to drink Champagne from one of those tall, narrow things called “flute”?   Perhaps your nose got stuck; or tossing your head so far back so as to get a taste from that prison you choke as the bubbles rush down your throat?  A real joy, the flute.    Yes?

NO!    Nice for flowers, but horrid to drink from.

I hate flutes.  There I have said it.  And maybe am shouting it, but thankfully you cannot hear my rant.  I know, I know:  I have often proselytized restaurants into setting their tables with Champagne glasses, so as to suggest to guests their Champagne-by-the-glass choices.  But I never meant for them to set their tables with flutes.  They are unsteady, they are ungraceful, they are mean to Champagne’s bubbles and mean to you and me when we try to drink from them.  I hate flutes. 
How about a real wine glass?  Hasn’t it occurred to you when opening that wonderful bottle filled with six atmospheres of pressure, filled with flavors of flowers, of brioche, of toast, of minerals, of lime and other citrus, of cherries and strawberries, that such a wine should be received into something generous and capable of offering all that is captive in that sturdy bottle to you and your guests? 

I wonder what sort of person, surely one with the mentality of a jailer, thought up the ever taller and narrower flute?  That person must be guilty of hating Champagne, and Champagne’s divine deliverer of its essence, all those bubbles.   
I hate flutes.
But give me the tall stemmed kylix. 
Give me the return of the Bronze Age kylix, such as what King Nestor enjoyed all his local and imported wines in.    (Check out the tall-stemmed, open coupe "kylix".  Love the "ears" for a good grip.) Only make it in crystal, not pottery.   A crystal kylix.  That’s what I dream of.  But close to perfection is the tall, so-called open-tulip that offers sufficient room for a generous whiff of the aromas buoyed on bubbles rising and breaking over the surface.    It is deep enough and round enough so a good swirl does achieve what it should, an opening up of flavors and aromas.  It is deep enough and round enough so the customer does not expect an overflowing glass; a good pour leaves room for expansion of the wine.  But then there’s another favorite, the grandly theatrical Coupe.   I have a friend who adores serving Champagne in her Lalique coupes.   The bubbles break and break on the larger surface like a starry night.  I know; I know:  complainers always state how a coupe dissipates the bubbles and makes the champagne flat. 

I challenge anyone to stay around looking at the bubbles as they grow flat and the Champagne warm in the coupe.  Who would do such a barbaric thing?  The coupe is so inviting most people slurp and slurp and soon it is as empty as when new, until it’s filled anew with stars full of flavors.  Bon Appetit!  And Sante to the coupe, the kylix, the open-tulip:  to all generous proportioned elegant glasses from which to enjoy the greatest of drinks, Champagne.

I hate flutes.  And CO2 hates flutes too.   Bye bye flutes.

Do I hear the sound of millions of flutes being shattered?

Madam Champagne@

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

24Norbert Wabnig and Cheese Store of BH are defintely CO2!

24. Norbert Wabnig and his Cheese Store Beverly Hills are definitely C02!

Early each morning in Beverly Hills when most neighbors on the grand 90210 Drives are sipping their lattes and reading the morning papers, behind a not very large but very well-known store-front, cheeses are getting ready for their day.    A cacophony of languages comes from the Cheese Store Beverly Hills; it’s a new day with exciting places for cheeses and their friends, wines, to go.

Probably on Canon at Spago Wolfgang has his ovens stoking, and his chefs chopping; and around the corner in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel silent feet push gliding gueridons with morning coffee room-service.  But at Tiffany, at Dior, at Gucci and Chanel, in the vaults of Barakat’s ancient worlds’ antiquities, and even at Galerie Michael, silence reigns as precious objects still sleep dreaming of their worth.

But over there at 419 North Beverly things are fast and furious, where they know exactly how much each moment is worth: getting all those cheeses perky, accepting delivery of crisp just baked Dolce Forno baguettes and ciabattas;
 weighing and putting away for further aging new-arrivee cheeses from the far corners of the globe, preparing catering trays for the day’s events, and creating cheesy gift-baskets for country-wide shipping or local delivery, all conducted in numerous languages.  (a total of nine languages are spoken by the staff of The Cheese Store Beverly Hills, five by Raffi.) 

It is good Norbert Wabnig and his crew are there so early.  Norbert Wabnig and general manager and food and wine expert Toni Princiotta’s deliveries must come first thing after dawn every day in this 90210 emporium of cheese, the finest for sure in the United States and the oldest in continual existence:  cheese will not wait when it is ready.  
  Soon wine merchants are waiting downstairs for Tony and Norbert and Erik to taste and assess wines for Tony’s Wine Corner. 
Dominic is busy making his fresh pastas and sun-dried tomatoes,
his stuffed peppers, and finding the finest and most delicious of Sicilian oils and olives to import. 
Erik is deciding which wine to pair with which cheese this week.  And Shivon is on the computer taking and sending orders.  
Then there are the wine and cheese seminars to prepare.  Oh this is a busy place and all that cheesy busy leaves little time for Norbert to play his piano which presides grandly over the whole establishment.

In the olden days when Norbert Wabnig, musician from New Orleans arrived in Beverly Hills in need of another job to pay the rent, way back there in 1974, he happened upon Colonel Ross and his Cheese Shop.  N’Awlins boy Norbert must have been giddy working for a Colonel.  And soon he became Colonel, buying out Ross in 1978. 

In those days the Kingdom of Cheese was grand, but much smaller than today’s.  Norbert and Tony search and travel the globe to find the best and most exotic.  And today there are 300 cheeses to choose among.

Because Norbert’s personality matches in rareness his talents, Norbert is like Champagne, filled with life and sparkle.    And when the moment strikes the right chord, Norbert drops the cheeses and sprints upstairs to his baby grand.  Recently he and Ruthie Grahm, mother of that wine scalawag Randall, composed the theme song for friend and neighbor down on Canon Drive, Wolfgang Puck and his Meals on Wheels celebration which raises millions annually for feeding those in need.

“Beyond Cheese” some areas of the store could read.  Here is where you will find Imperial Golden Osetra caviar, and white honey from Hawaii; truffles, black and white, in season; and the finest of olive oils from every olive region.    A morning at Cheese Store Beverly Hills is a veritable feast of gastronomic richness.   Beatle Fan and look-alike, Norbert Wabnig, is truly Champagne-like, filling the world with more star-dust. 
Julius Caesar agrees with me: 
nunc bibendum est, Norbert.  A true Champagne personality!