Veuve Clicquot & Doughnut Vault – Champagne Pairing

June 14 2011 - 11:55 PM

Champagne pairs wonderfully with a long list of things. From fried chicken to sushi to oysters, this classic bubbly tends to pair with a wide range of things, though care must be taken not to overpower its delicate flavors.

The Veuve Clicquot event was held at the Gilt Bar, so we went in at the seemingly wee hour of 9 a.m. last Friday past the long queue of eager patrons waiting to sample at the Doughnut Vault next door. Pierre Casenave, winemaker for Veuve Clicquot, gave a summary of the wines.

There were four Champagnes paired with doughnuts, in addition to the widely available and dependable Yellow Label. The first was an ’02, which I found had some strawberry notes (despite not being a rosé), as well as being crisp and yeasty. It was paired with a vanilla glazed doughnut.

Next was an ’04 Rosé, which had strawberry and sour cherry tones and was drinking very well. A double-glazed chocolate doughnut was paired to it.

Third, there was my favorite, a ’98 La Grande Dame, Veuve Clicquot’s tête de cuvée, a good mix of Chardonnay (30-35 percent) and Pinot Noir (60-65 percent). This classic Champagne was very young despite its vintage, and having almost a nutty, elegant complexity with perhaps secondary notes of stone fruit, good concentration, some toast and vanilla (due to barrel aging), and an extremely long  finish. It went with a tangy buttermilk old-fashioned doughnut.

Last was a demi-sec, a French term meaning “half dry,” though in Champagne it’s rare to find an actual doux, or sweet, wine. The match for this was a pistachio glazed doughnut, though we took a cinnamon cake doughnut on the table and found that it was an improved pairing. Demi-secs get short shrift in our demand for dryer wines, though I believe they would also go great as aperitifs or with spicy foods. Even for a dessert such as a doughnut, we found the demi-sec has its own heft to stand up to the sweet flavors.

The verdict on this is that, well, it’s an interesting and creative concept. Champagne breakfasts and brunches have been around for years, as it pairs effortlessly with a variety of foods, and one could postulate that doughnuts are a natural extension of this. Suffice it to say, lots of sugar in food gives wine competition, so of course one tends to win over the other, and here sugar seemed to score the most points.

Thanks to the organizers at Veuve Clicquot, Gilt Bar, and Doughnut Vault for hosting an event pairing French wine with American breakfast food, and for taking the edge off of a Friday.