A coming together of champagne houses under one name
As harvest is once again upon us, I thought it would be fun to elaborate on a few champagne producers who have been working in a different way for a few decades and who have come together under the name Trait-d'Union.
The group is made up of Champagne Selosse, Champagne Larmandier-Bernier, Champagne Coulon, Champagne Jacquesson, Champagne Egly-Oriet, and Champagne Jacques Prevost — six contemporaries, friends, and Champagne de Terroir pioneers.
Trait-d'Union is a dash, or hyphen; the little (-) symbol which links individual words together. The words keep their individual meaning, yet the dash links them to the other words. The Trait-d'Union Group chose this name for exactly that reason; they are individual growers linked by a shared respect for their land and their focus on quality, yet they remain very much their own entities. Or, put in a more poetic way as done by them in spring:
"A common appellation
Paths that cross
Villages that share
Gestures that connect and give a sense
Of wines of reference
From the same sun and different soils
A moment ‘avisé’
A hyphen. 'Trait-d-union'"
I visited four of the six members and was very impressed by the quality and uniqueness of the champagnes. This is probably linked to the strong character of each of the vignerons and the fact that they all focus on quality, terroir, and a living soil. Below is a little more information on the four producers I visited, and my version of their grape growing and wine making philosophies.
Click here to learn more about Anselme Selosse, Champagne Coulon, and more.
— Caroline Henry, Snooth
Leftover Champagne Recipes That Make Great Use Of Your Bubbly
When New Year's Eve has come and gone, you may find yourself in a common conundrum. Allow us to paint the scene: You invited everyone you've ever met or interacted with on social media over to your apartment because you refuse to leave the house on New Year's Eve and had too many recipes you needed to squeeze in before the end of the 2014. The only problem was that too many other people also had a stay-at-home rule on New Years and maybe you overestimated the amount of cheap Champagne you could collectively consume with the close pals that did show up to your party. It happens to the best of us.
Chances are, after a night of trying to finish all that Champagne, you won't be looking to drink more bubbly anytime soon. This is why we've compiled some excellent recipes that can help you use up those extra bottles.
It might not be immediately obvious, but the fruity, yeasty, and sometimes nutty flavor of Champagne goes great in food. It naturally complements desserts like cakes and sorbets and adds oomph to frosting, but it can also give a surprisingly pleasant kick to staples like salmon, risotto and Jell-O. You cook with wine, so why not cook with Champagne?
Here are 17 recipes that include Champagne as an ingredient, so you don't have waste any of that precious bubbly.
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Well, they are all coming over to lunch and at a weak moment I agreed to cook this lunch for them. Panic stations, it's all well and good cooking a light lunch each week for the team out here but this lot needs to be impressed you'd think.
It's not like we haven't got much on at the moment, being autumn we are busy picking fruit ourselves and the winery is filling up fast. You get that rising feeling like you are drowning in stuff you should be doing anyway, so throwing this into the mix has put a fair amount of strain on my usual, fairly clear diary.
What do you cook them? In most wine-growing regions they always stop for lunch and have all those who are working in the vineyards and wineries down for a long lunch. Rustic, simple food, plenty of wine and then back out in the fields. Clearly you need good government subsidies for this to underpin the loss of production but it does make for happy workers.
So that's the plan, have a long table set up under the vine-draped pergola. Big sharing plates of food and lots of wine flowing. You can see why this is everyone's vision of what vignerons get up to, why everyone seems to want to do this at the appearance of their first grey hair.
I've kept the lunch in-theme by making lots of terrines and roast vegetable salads, stuff you can make ahead of time and just roll out. As the tomato season is in full swing as well, a plate of sliced and chopped tomatoes, all varieties, drizzled with our olive oil infused with basil and piled up with fresh mozzarella. This is such an easy dish to knock together if you have good tomatoes to throw at it. More salads, baby greens with freshly roasted sourdough croutons, tomatoes, red onion, sloshed with olive oil and cider vinegar and just a plate of still warm, roasted sweet potato and grilled figs. It's all easy stuff when you have 20 hungry French farmers to lunch.
However, what they seemed to like the most were these plates of south coast oysters, drizzled in a light vinaigrette and topped with salmon roe. They couldn't get over the flavour of our beautiful, indigenous Sydney rock oysters. One of the perfect pairings with good champagne and a crowd pleaser. This is based on an old-ish Tetsuya Wakuda recipe which I still think is one of the best ways of dressing an oyster, if that's what you have to do.
Sydney rock oysters with champagne vinaigrette and salmon roe
10 chives, chopped very finely
vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Shuck the oysters and save the little bit of water. Arrange the opened oysters on a serving plate packed with ice to keep them cold and hold them upright. Filter the oyster water and save four tablespoons for dressing.
Drizzle with the vinaigrette, add a scoop of roe, sprinkle with chives and a grind of black pepper
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
Place everything in a jar and shake to emulsify. Taste, it should be slightly salty, if not add a little more soy.
Champagne cocktail recipes
Add some sparkle to your next party with our tasty champagne cocktail recipes. From bellinis to summery spritzes, we have a drink for every occasion.
Serve this fruity cocktail at a garden party or wedding reception. With crushed fresh raspberries, raspberry liqueur and champagne, it's a real taste of summer
Blend some chilled champagne with brandy and bitters for a sophisticated champagne cocktail. Garnish with an orange twist to serve
Elderflower & champagne cocktail
Mix elderflower cordial, gin, lychee juice and lemon bitters with chilled champagne to make this superb cocktail that tastes like summer all year round
If you love mojitos and champagne, this will be the cocktail of your dreams. Combine rum, mint, sugar syrup and Angostura bitters and top it up with champers
Porter & champagne
Combine porter or light stout with champagne to make this unusual cocktail. Similar to a Black Velvet, it's rich and decadent – perfect to impress party guests
The berry sweetness of sloe gin perks up this fizz cocktail - use Prosecco or Champagne, and edible glitter for extra sparkle
Love pre-dinner cocktails? Serve the perfect aperitif by blending Aperol or Campari with sparkling water and a generous amount of your favourite champagne
This is a sophisticated, aromatic twist on the classic French 75, to get it ready for the festive season. A boozy taste of Christmas in a glass
Make a classic kir royale cocktail with crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and your favourite champagne. Garnish with a blackberry to serve to guests
Blend fresh fruit with champagne to make this fabulous mango bellini. It's great as a summer cocktail or a dinner party aperitif, or alongside a weekend brunch
Mix a classic mimosa cocktail with orange juice and champagne – or use prosecco if you prefer a different sort of bubbly. It's an easy fix when entertaining
Blood orange & star anise fizz
The perfect zesty tipple for a spring celebration. Who could resist a blend of sharp blood orange, star anise and Grand Marnier, topped with bubbles?
Sydney La Paulée – Gala Dinner – Leflaive, Ramonet, 2x1929s, Rousseau, DRC, Mugnier, Vogüé and more!
I’m a few months late with these notes but this was the gala dinner at the end of a week of events for the Sydney Burgundy Celebration, organised by sommeliers Franck Moreau MS, Amanda Yallop & Michaël Engelmann MS. I also attended a large walk-around tasting the night prior and may post some quick notes [&hellip]
Deep Dish Dreams
It left me. I'm not sure when, but it's gone. And I'm devastated.
While travelling in South East Asia for a bit over five weeks I read food books, the Good Weekend Food edition, Saveur Magazine and even a cookbook. With no cooking to do, no food shopping or cleaning up to wade through, I thought excitedly about what I would cook on our return.
But when we came back I stood like an idiot at the South Melbourne Market, perplexed as to what to buy and blindly sought staples. I scratched my head when it came time to cook something and plumbed the depths of my soul, but nothing was forthcoming. I overslept and missed my usual Farmers Market. That's just not like me.
I looked at food porn. I glanced at cookbooks irritably. Looking at food blogs left a dry taste in my mouth. I watched Nigella and was not enthused. I found it more interesting to count the myriad of ways that the production team had devised to use her fake house to disguise her broad hips and stout legs. Nothing helped me. The magic was gone. My cooking mojo had disappeared into the ether.
Usually when I cook it's as though I'm under a spell, that's why I think of it as my mojo. It flows out of me with no conscious thought. It is intuitive. I don't need to measure ingredients, evaluate time Vs temperature or follow a recipe - it just flows with no conscious thought. As though invaded by the spirit of another, cooking just comes together for me in an almost trance-like fashion.
What's happened? I am managing to cook, though lacking inspiration - and it tastes fine - but it's taking me way longer to do and I am strangely also losing my appetite. Bizarrely for me, when we went to The Press Club for my birthday celebration I was defeated by the size of the servings of the Symposium (degustation menu). I - who can happily wade through Greg Malouf's gut busting multi-course extravaganza's - left duck confit and sundry items on my plate at George Calombaris' temple of modern Greek gastronomy.
In spite of channeling George's mother with the imagined words ". eat..eat!!" and Mr Sticky putting on a Italian Mama falsetto and saying "Eat! Eat! You're too skinny!" I could not rise to the occasion. I was embarrassed.
The food blew my mind. It was clever, and unlike some fashionable venues, not so obviously tricked up that the modern techniques became the star over the produce. This was definitely no case of style over substance, rather an intelligent working of flavours, textures and techniques used to deliver a concept that had incubated in Calombaris' mind.
The idea of what a dish could be - at its best - was at the core of each course with the inspiration explained by the waitstaff on presentation. At the end of the meal, a digestive of mastic and sugar on a teaspoon was hardened in a shot glass of water to form a sticky toffee. It was a sensation, with just a hint of clove oil that cleared the palate and settled the stomach m agic.
Ordinarily my annual 'big night out' would have been enough to get my mojo on track again, but it failed. Where's the spark gone?
I can only presume that something within me has changed. Could I have overstretched my palate?
We delighted in some spectacular restaurant meals on our travels, especially in the former Royal town of Luang Prabang in Laos. We sat in orgasmic raptures hunkered humbly on tiny roadside stools beside food hawkers, and overdosed on sweets at The Hanoi Sofitel's Chocolate High Tea. We ate at Restaurant Bobby Chinn and later, I read my autographed copy of his cookbook on the beach in Thailand with a smirk, when I came upon lines of text lightly censored in silver ink at the behest of Vietnamese authorities.
Could I have overdosed by indulging my senses too readily?
And now at Christmas I am thankfully not responsible for preparing the traditional family meal, but again taking Mr Stickyfinger's Chargrilled salad, Luv-a-Duck's Peking duck party pies and Noisette's garlic loaf - with whole garlic cloves submerged in the dough that roast to sweetness in the baking - along to his family's gathering. And I am making edible gifts for them. But I'm doing things so ingrained in me that they have become staples in our diet, no mojo required.
The gifts are things I think everyone should make for themselves regularly, but have instead become replaced by processed convenience products that lack the depth of flavour and texture. I have made lemon scented olive oil to use in my home-made lemon mayonnaise, which will go in a simple pack with a large bottle of my vinaigrette, which made properly, does not separate. They're practical gifts reflecting the need for home comforts in the face of economic gloom, instead of the usual clutter destined for eBay.
And so I continue to cook, albeit apathetically.
Like a lover deserted, I feel as though I have paled without my passion. If you're out there Cooking Mojo, please come back. I beg of you.
Deep Dish Dreams
The Spanish were responsible not only for importing the vanilla pod to Europe from Central America, but also for supplying Europe’s languages with a name for it. In Spanish it is vainilla, a diminutive of vaina, ‘sheath’ – a reference to the long narrow pods. The ultimate source (root) of Spanish vaina is Latin vagina.
Two more posts have been added to Vanilla Slice Blog. We stopped at the Orange Spot Bakery in South Australia enroute home from our stay in The Barossa Valley to sample their second prizewinner. The second visit was to the much-vaunted San Sebastian, in Mr Stickyfingers’ old stomping ground, Hampton. Next up will be Chimmy’s in Abbotsford, thanks to a tip off at the site, where we have allocated a page for suggestions. Feel free to let us know where your favourite is.
By hook or by crook, Purple Goddess and I will make it to Sorrento for an eat off of their two most famous, in the next couple of weeks.
Rosebud Farmers Market. the sun is shining, the birds are singing. Furry and I are holding hands, making goo-goo eyes at each other.
The produce is local, organic, delightful.. rhubarbs, glistening in the sun, the first crop of stone fruit are piled up, cornucopic.. and then I spy it.. a stall selling fresh, organic bread.
I approach, visions of bruschetta dancing in my head.
And then I see them (**cue suitably eerie music**)
Thoughts of Stickyfingers swirl and eddy around my mind .
I see they're all piled on top of each other, the bottoms ones oozing and groaning under the pressure of those above. and what's worse.
THEY WERE WRAPPED IN GLAD WRAP.
I beat a hasty retreat from them, hand on brow, swooning with the pain of it all.
I vaguely recollect some **collective gasp**
Not for you, my dear. not even for you.
Lovely to meet you last night sticky and your husband too. Your risotto smelt devine but I had peaked too early and even my sweets were in my belly and digesting by the time the fish made a showing. pity. next time, I hope. Vida x
I love reading about vanilla slice! It LOOKS like what we might call a Napoleon in the USA, or a mille-fueille in France. but I would love to taste one myself!
Easy champagne cocktail recipes
Champagne, blackcurrant liqueur and a blackberry to garnish is all you need to whip up this classic cocktail, perfect for a celebratory cocktail without the fuss.
Homemade grenadine and champagne cocktails
These eye-catching grenadine and champagne cocktails are an easy way to add some sparkle to your dinner table. Simple but effective.
This classic champagne cocktail is simple to make but looks stunning, perfect for the party season.
Champagne and berry fizz
Try this twist on a sgroppino, with champagne or cava and a scoop of berry sorbet to create a 5-minute tipple.
A really beautiful, split-coloured champagne cocktail invented by the legendary Salvatore Calabrese. If you can’t find the fraise de bols, you could use another liqueur like crème de cassis.
A great sparkling Christmas party cocktail. After you have decorated the champagne flutes, chill them in the freezer or fill them with ice for a few minutes.
Artists bring French apartments to life
magine an apartment building where instead of living spaces, each apartment is transformed into an art gallery. Instead of boring white-washed walls along the 11-story staircase, they have been brought to life with artists’ visions.
This scene, that was moments ago only in your imagination, is a real project. TRAIT d’union is an initiative run by a group called ‘Art Puissance Art’ where artists come together to create masterpieces in an old apartment building. I had the chance to go visit this one-of-a-kind art gallery located on the outskirts of Strasbourg, in the east of France.
The idea of the TRAIT d’union project is to install a temporary artistic zone in a building that is soon to be demolished. The first attempt in 2012 was so popular that this year another building was chosen to host this unique art gallery.
Putting the idea into action
This year, 16 artists participated. People who lived in the area, as well as local school children were also able to participate in themed workshops and summer animation courses.
The building was open to the public the weekend of September 14 and 15, and I visited on the first evening. The whole building was transformed into one giant art gallery. The stairways were all spray painted, and even the outside of the building was decorated or going to be decorated.
Each artist or group of artists had free reign over one entire apartment, including kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedrooms. Because the artists could do whatever they wanted, the apartments-turned-art-galleries varied greatly and most no longer resembled anything near a living space.
A variation of styles
There were many different styles but I will describe just a few of my favorites.
One artist wrote a play, which was ‘performed’ on the walls of the apartment: little scraps of paper announced and described the acts and scenes. Sets and decorations accompanied each scene to fully immerse the audience in the play.
Another team of artists called their chef d’oeuvre ‘Scotch’, and the principal theme was packing tape.
In their apartment space, all the furniture came to life with tape-covered arms and legs. The bathtub sprang up from its spot nuzzled in the corner of the tiny bathroom and the bed had begun to walk out of the bedroom.
Two chairs in the kitchen were locked in a life and death battle, with the losing chair’s four ‘legs’ spread out on the floor in defeat. It was a very clever and unique idea.
In another apartment were paintings and street art depicting different people some famous, some unknown.
In one room, a hole in a door became a shouting mouth. Peeking through the mouth, we saw an image of a boy reading and the words: “N’oubliez pas de rêver.”
In another apartment, everything was completely black. The artist had built multiple sculptures and then painted these and the walls with fluorescent colors. Blacklights placed strategically around the apartment made visitors feel like they were at a rave.
It was a very unique experience, and a very good use of space. It is also a good way to promote art and creativity by giving artists control over so much space.
Before the building is demolished the art pieces will be dismantled and placed in a more traditional art gallery to give others a chance to see the work. Two future exhibitions of the pieces will be happening in Strasbourg in the coming months: 12-14 October at Colod’Art and 9-11 November at CSC de la Meinau.
You can find out more information about the project as well as more photos of the works of art on the Projet TRAIT d’union Website.
Have you visited the TRAIT d’union? Do you have any photos or experiences to share? Join the conversation in the comments box below, or on Twitter.
About the Correspondent
“I am originally from California and am currently living in Strasbourg doing a Masters degree. In my free time I love to go running, cook, take photos and travel. I love everything French and you can follow my adventures on my blog.”
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Champagne Gets Into the En Primeur Spirit
Champagne launched a new entrant to the annual wine calendar last week, as the inaugural Printemps de Champagne attracted hundreds of visitors from around the world to the historic city of Reims.
The festival followed directly after Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne and the En Primeur week in Bordeaux and represents Champagne's opportunity to show off last year's vintage.
Champagne specialist Essi Avellan MW traveled on the eve of her Second Grand Champagne event in Helsinki because she felt "it is a must to attend for any Champagne lover, interested in learning more about the diversity of the Champagne terroir and gain an overall understanding of last year's harvest". Champagne author Michael Edwards also took time out of his busy schedule to attend the tastings, as he feels it is "the place to discover new cuvées, rather than gauging the previous vintage".
The Printemps de Champagne grew organically from a small tasting organized eight years ago by a group of vignerons, Terres et Vins de Champagne. They took the unusual decision to show off their vins clairs to better explain their often terroir-focused cuvées. One of the founders, Raphaël Bérêche from Champagne Bérຬhe, recalled the first event as being "quite intimate, attended by a 120 visitors, of which more than half were French". Today, the event had to cap entries at 550, and most visitors were international.
Bérêche is still a little amazed about the evolution that has taken place in the last eight years. "We founded Terres et Vins de Champagne, an association with no commercial interest, for educational purposes. The aim was to create an event that showed off the different terroirs in Champagne in a more Burgundian way, rather than the uniform notion of terroir the region had always promoted."
The original group consisted of 16 winemakers who were already focused on making terroir-expressive Champagnes. This first tasting created quite a buzz in the media, and soon other producers wanted to join the association, but often more for commercial rather than educational reasons. Two years after the initial tasting, a second association was created, organizing a tasting the next day and, in 2012, two more associations and tastings were added. As the attendee numbers increased, groups and tastings mushroomed, creating a need for some sort of formalization of the events.
Bérêche said: "After last year, we realized that we had to centralize the tasting information to facilitate registration for the visitors and lay down a few ground rules to assure the original educational purpose of the tastings."
In many ways it would have made sense for the CIVC to coordinate the events, just as the BIVB does for the Grands Jours de Bourgogne. However some of the winemakers preferred to remain independent, fearing the Champagne houses would take over the limelight with the CIVC in charge. That was why Terres et Vins de Champagne member Benoît Tarlant organized the co-ordination of the printempsdechampagne.com website. The website regrouped 23 different groups and tastings over six days. However, the website only contained half of the actual events that went on at least as many "off" events also took place in the same week.
Tarlant said: "It was complicated trying to put the site together with groups contacting me still after the site had gone live maybe next year we can have a more complete overview."
Nevertheless, it may be easier to hand over the coordination of next year's events to the CIVC, as many of the off events included Champagne houses, where the angle was definitely more commercial than educational. Cyril Brun, chef de cave at Charles Heidsieck, presented four workshops over two days and felt "the event is great for Champagne in general, as it is generating a real interest and focus on our wines".
However, for him the strength lays more in the promotion of new or collectors' cuvées, rather than in the evaluation of the new vintage or the terroir. He did admit that "2015 was a great vintage and that Charles Heidsieck is looking at the possibility of bottling a Champagne Charlie cuvée". This is quite a scoop as the last Champagne Reserve Charlie cuvée was bottled 25 years ago from the 1990 vintage.
If many houses organized some form of commercial side event, the ones not joining in have also benefited, albeit indirectly. Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, chef de cave at Champagne Louis Roederer, admitted that they received a lot of visitors during the Printemps de Champagne week.
"We hosted about 12 different vins clairs tastings during the week, requested by multiple trade visitors. So, even if we did not directly participate in the events, we became by default part of the off program," he said.
With that many events taking place, attendance levels varied widely, especially since certain tastings were more sought after than others. Of the new tastings, only Bulles Bio en Champagne was really able to draw a big crowd, with more than 500 attending. According to Bulles Bio's president Pascal Doquet, of Champagne Doquet, this was partly due to the fact that the tasting, which used to take place in October, had gained momentum in recent years, and partly due to the increasing demand for organic Champagne. Unsurprisingly, it was particularly well attended by international importers.
"There is a market demand for more organic Champagne, and with supply less than 1 percent of the total Champagne volume, people were naturally drawn to our tasting to fulfil market demand," Doquet said.
Trait d'Union, which includes star producers such as Anselme Selosse and Champagne Jacquesson, had restricted entry. Laurent Chicquet, from Champagne Jacquesson explained: "We opted for a conference explaining the the essence of a place through a guided vins clairs tasting. This meant we had to restrict our entries to 120 visitors per session, or 240 people in total." The entry restriction also reflects Trait d'Union's commercial success, with most members having sold out their Champagne for the year already.
Of the other tastings, Terres et Vins de Champagne remained the most popular and also the most focused on terroir and the 2015 vintage, with each grower showing three different vins clairs. Over the years the organization has stuck to the format introduced eight years ago, and the focus firmly remained on the educational aspect. This may be because the 23 members have become very sought-after producers and have very little wine to sell. As for a lot of the other tastings, they have veered more toward a commercial approach, hoping to attract either direct sales or press coverage.
That approach is not guaranteed to pay off, according to the Champagne Warrior's Brad Baker, who has attended every year since 2009. His main reason for traveling is getting an overview of last year's vintage. "Most other interesting producers have already been discovered and are represented in the first few groups that were formed around Terres et Vins de Champagne."