Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Accidental Three-Champagne Dinner




One of the juicy side benefits of dining out in New York or San Francisco is the spontaneous conversation that crops up with the people at the next table. Tables are often so close that it’s impossible to avoid overhearing your neighbors discussing their meal or spontaneously admiring the beautiful dish that just arrived.
Dining at a new La Jolla restaurant next to a pair of dedicated food and wine lovers, I had one of those serendipitous conversations that led to my first taste of Krug.

In case you hadn't heard, Krug is one of those super-special champagnes, considered by many to be the most special in the world. Maybe it’s the 157-year family tradition, the careful selection of the best grapes from the best vineyards or the complex flavors that come from aging the wine in small oak barrels. Really, it’s probably the fact that Krug cost $100 a bottle and up. Either way, people who know say the name with a raised eyebrow and a smile.

So after sharing opinions on dinner and favorite restaurant stories wit Antonette and Dave, the conversation rolled around to champagne. They had started dinner with a bottle of Laurent-Perrier, since the restaurant was out of their first choice: Krug non-vintage brut. When I commented that I had never tasted Krug, Dave mentioned that he had some in his cellar. Then Antonette said the magic words: “If you’re not doing anything next Saturday, would you like to come over for dinner and taste some Krug?” I thought: “Heck yeah man!”, as my Aunt Bettie likes to say, but came up with a cooler response.

My friends and I arrived at 7:30, appetizers, a fruit tart and a yummy Voluspa potted candle for a housewarming gift in hand. We were barely in the door when Dave pulled out a perfectly chilled bottle of Krug NV Brut Grande Cuvee with a crimson and gold label. This is a luxurious wine, pale yellow with lots of tiny bubbles and the aroma of a perfectly baked brioche. I took a sip and the wine’s rich sensations filled my mouth: bubbly and smooth, crisp and rich all a the same time. As the wine dwindled, it became more intense with a charry bread crust aroma.

Just for fun, Dave poured a Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle, a crisp almost steely wine that couldn’t have been more different from the Krug. The last champagne was an elegant J Lassalle Brut Rose served with Antonette’s excellent tuna tartare. But all I could remember was the Krug. Now the only problem is figuring out how to say thank-you for this experience…

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