Champagne Brunch – Dec 7, 2008


 Grower Champagne Brunch at River Café


Pinot Noir

River Café

11.00 am Sunday, December 7, 2008
members: $135.00   non-members: $150.00  non-drinker: $65.00
reservation requests:

mail cheques to:
Llyn Strelau
1643 Altadore Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2T 2P8

Please join us at the River Café to kick off the holiday season as we explore the differences between Blanc de Noirs champagnes, made from black-skinned Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes and Blanc de Blancs champagnes, made from the white Chardonnay grape.

To add further cachet, all of the wines for our brunch will be Grower champagnes (also called Artisanal or Estate Bottled champagne), affectionately known as “Farmer Fizz”. The grandes marques of Champagne purchase the majority of the grapes used for their flagship wines from farmers in the region and blend these wines to create their cuvées. Times are changing, and now many of these farmers are using their finest grapes to craft and bottle their own champagnes. Typically their production is a tiny fraction of the output of the large champagne houses, but what is lost in quantity is gained in quality. These are wines often made exclusively from single (even grand cru) vineyards with great care and a passion that lets the character of the individual vintner shine through. As an added bonus, these high quality grower champagnes are great value when compared to the big brands that have huge marketing budgets to pay for.

Here is the exciting menu created for us by River Cafe’s chef Scott Pohorelic along with the wines and tasting notes:


  • Dungeness crab in a filo cup
  • Smoked sablefish and wild rice cakes
  • Pork and game terrine

Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs NV

“Very pale straw-yellow color. Fine mousse. Subtle aromas of flowers and spices. Sweet, creamy and fine, with complex flavors of peach, apple, pear and nutmeg. At once stony and gentle, with a supple, creamy texture and brisk but harmonious acidity. Very nicely balanced blanc de blancs Finishes with lovely length and lingering sweet fruit.” 91 points. Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar.


  • House-cured Sunworks Farm duck prosciutto with Okanagan asian pear, Hamminen Farm hazelnuts, home made chokecherry vinegar

Fleury Blanc de Noirs Brut NV

“From vineyards that have been run on biodynamic lines since 1992, this is a rarity: an organic Champagne. It’s quite an elegant fizz, with an open, fruity, yeasty aroma and fresh, tangy fruit in the mouth. Lots of flavour. Rich and full-bodied with a delightful strawberry, toasty richness and a long, powerful complex finish.”


  • Wood-grilled Arctic char with Highwood Crossing canola roasted potatoes, pickled fennel and roast carrot salad

Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs d’Ay Vintage 1999

“Bottled in magnum, it has a fabulous nose; pure crabapple-blossom, the kind of fragrance you know will evolve into the haunting, mysterious perfume of great mature Champagne. Cool, blonde, all mist and gossamer, feminine and mysterious; this is insanely good Champagne, the kind that melts your heart, silvery and lunar.”

 Cédric Bouchard Les Ursules Blanc de Noirs

“The current release of Les Ursules is the 2004, which is rich and vinous, redolent of blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Like all of Bouchard’s wines it’s non-dosé, yet thanks to the impeccable work in both the vineyard and winery this feels entirely harmonious and complete, with a finely silky texture, an insistently chalky undertone and a staining, saturating sense of length on the finish. It needs quite a bit of time to open up, and while I didn’t decant this bottle, I would definitely consider decanting my next one, as it has plenty of depth, vinosity and richness to be able to do so. Yet what impresses me about this wine is not its concentration, but its finesse, its balance and above all, its expression of terroir.”

 Fleury Vintage Brut 1996

“One of the last available of this great vintage. A recently disgorged (RD) release; it is STUNNING. The 1996 vintage blends 80% pinot noir and 20% chardonnay fermented in stainless steel and measures a very high 6% total acidity, even after full malolactic fermentation. The sur-lie aging takes place on a cork rather than a steel cap, and all the bottles are hand-disgorged. The color is like dark hay and the nose reminds me of the fresh brioche that I have been treated to all too often on my trips to Champagne. It also has a fruit confit element that does not detract at all from its freshness. It is INTENSE on the palate and tight as a tick at 11 years old. The surest sign of its quality is the finish, which expanded like a peacock’s tail, fanning out to become stronger after the wine had left my mouth. It would not quit! This is not cheap or plentiful, but this is GREAT Champagne!”


  • Poached quince and almond cake with vanilla bean ice

René Geoffroy Rosé de Saignée 

“Geoffroy is one of the few Houses that still makes its Champagne Rosé by the saignée method during the maceration of the Pinot Noir grapes. tasting notes. Ruby red tints to please the eye. The nose provides a whole bouquet of aromas. Roses, wild strawberries and raspberries combine in perfect harmony. The mouth, utterly charming, confirms the promise of the nose. The finale has sumptuous vinosity.”

 We look forward to seeing all you on the 7th!