Champagne Dames, Lamiable Extra Brut, and a Hot Cheesy Mess

Champagne Lamiable Extra Brut with a Cheese Soufflé, prosciutto, and bread.


I love Champagne! Not only do I love drinking it, but it’s a fascinating region with an amazing history. Getting to know that history, bit by bit, has only helped me to love it more. This is due in no small part to the fact that women have been key to the history and evolution of Champagne. This is a region ripe for exploration during women’s history month as Champagne would definitely not be what the beverage it is today without the contributions of some truly forward-thinking ladies.

Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin married François Clicquot when she was 21 years old, only to lose her husband a few years later, becoming the eponymous Veuve Clicquot (translation: the widow Clicquot) when she was only 27 years old. It turned out that she had a much better business sense than her husband, at least when it came to wine. The house thrived under her management. One of her most lasting contributions was the development of the riddling process, which traps spent yeasts cells in the neck of the bottle so they can be expelled from the bottle. It’s the reason the bubbles in your Champagne can sparkle in beautifully crystal-clear wine. (If you’re curious as to what the wine looks like without it, see this post.)  
 

If you love the dry styles of Champagne–and I know that’s most of you!–you can thank Alexandre Louise Pommery for that. She was also widowed by her husband, albeit at not quite such a young age. She’d been educated in England and knew that the English preferred a drier style of wine. She was not the first to make a dry Champers (Perrier-Jouët attempted it first but it flopped), however, she honed into a key factor for making the style work. She realized that a riper, richer base wine than that which was used at the time would be needed to make the wine palatable. She started paying growers to give their grapes longer hangtimes. They were reluctant as they risked losing crops during fall’s mercurial weather fluctuations, but she convinced them and it worked! The Brut style is still the cornerstone of the Champagne market.

Like these ladies, there were many others. (I’ll be taking a look at another historical Champagne Dame soon, so stay tuned.) However, in addition to taking a moment to appreciate the ladies that paved the way, I also wanted to take a look at a modern lady-made Champagne. I settled on a bottle of Champagne Lamiable Grand Cru Extra Brut NV I had in “the cellar.”


This house is moving under sisterly control with its current generation. Lamiable is a small producer based in the village of Tours-sur-Marne, in the Vallée de la Marne sub-region of Champagne. The Lamiable family completed its first harvest in the area in 1955. They then spent 20 years building up their cellars, finally purchasing their first press in 1960. Jean-Pierre Lamiable took over in 1972 and set about building up the business. Eventually, his two daughters, Orianne and Ophélie, joined him in running the company. Orianne is responsible for managing the commercial side of things. Ophélie took over the farm in 2006 and has been in charge of the wine and vineyard since.


I was hoping to find more background on these two sisters but could not find much. However, Ophélie runs the house’s Instagram and makes it look like a joyful place. 


THE WINE & PAIRING



I only drink champagne when I’m 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 am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.” –Lily Bollinger, of the Bollinger Champagne house


I’ll let another Grand Dame de Champagne, Lilly Bollinger, set the mood for this pairing with her famous quote. It is appropriate here I think because there was both an occasion and there wasn’t, and my mood was mixed. However, as she puts it, Champagne is welcome in all scenarios.

There was a sort-of occasion. Greg and I had celebrated our wedding anniversary a couple of weeks before by taking a trip up to the Culinary Cabin with friends. We had a great time but hadn’t yet had a celebration just the two of us. Our intent was to have a belated dinner out–and eventually did–but we hadn’t managed to find a moment to schedule it yet. I thought it would be nice to have a special, but chill night in with a lovely bottle of Champers. 


I thought I’d get slightly ambitious for the occasion and make us a cheese soufflé. I had a pretty open afternoon, so I figured it was a good time to take it on. My plans were foiled by UPS. I’d been having problems receiving a package that required a signature (wine). I wanted to make sure to be home and so couldn’t go to the store for a couple of missing ingredients I needed until Greg got home from work. Of course, they never came that day, and I got a late start. By the time I got to work, I was flustered, hurried, and a little pissed off. 


Soufflés can sense these things. 


They’re not exactly hard to make, but they do require focus and they like you to be as zen as possible. It’d been a long time since I’d made one and I can see now where I went wrong in certain aspects; however, things just seemed off right out of the gate. 

I was not surprised when it didn’t rise all that much. Admittedly calling the result a “hot cheesy mess” is a bit of an overstatement. In reality, it just kind of resembled a puffy omelet, which really isn’t all that bad.


One of the nice things about soufflés is that while they can be finicky, they tend to taste good even when they don’t turn out right. That was definitely the case here. It still made for a decadent and delicious dinner, and I feel galvanized to attempt it again soon to get better results. In the meantime, I based what I did on a combination of Julia’s recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking and this recipe by Alex Guarnaschelli on Food & Wine.


We ended up having a lovely night despite the mishaps and late start. Of course, that was due in no small part to the Champers, because as we know, Champagne has the ability to make everything better. 

Champagne Lamiable Extra Brut with a Cheese Soufflé,

The Lamiable Grand Cru Extra Brut had notes of buttered, salted brioche, bruised apples and preserved lemons on the nose. On the palate, it had light savory touches of truffles, ginger, and a pinch of turmeric, almonds, tangerine peel, raspberries, and a light chalky minerality with hints of seashells. It was sleek and elegant, while still having a generous, creamy mouthfeel.

We really enjoyed this wine and it made a lovely accompaniment to the almost-cheese soufflé, along with a spread of prosciutto, bread, and a simple salad. It was creamy enough texture to match the cheese soufflé-ish while still being very refreshing.


OTHER POSSIBILITIES

Champagne goes with EVERYTHING. However, the tech sheet recommends pairing it with grilled shrimp. I'm sure it would be delicious with other seafood dishes, particularly with light butter sauces.

THE GEEKY DETAILS

Taken from the tech sheet.
Blend: 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay
Vintage: NV
Soil Type: Chalk and limestone.
Exposition: South
Elevation: Altitude 162 m, a gentle slope of about 10%
Average Of Vineyards: 30-35 years old.
Average Yield: 76.5 hl/ha
Vinification: Fermentation in enamel and stainless steel tanks. The wine then undergoes malolactic fermentation.
Maturation and Aging: Maturation in enamel tanks for 6 months. Aging in bottle on the lees for 2 years, in the Domaine's cave, before disgorgement.
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Production: 1,250 cases



MONEY TALK

WineSpectator.com lists the release price at $58, and which I think is a completely reasonable price for this wine. It’s a Solid Value.


For other post related to Champagne here, check out:



Champagne Lamiable Extra Brut with a Cheese Soufflé, prosciutto, and bread.

Champagne Lamiable Extra Brut with a Cheese Soufflé.


*****

The rest of the French #Winophiles group will be exploring the role of women in Champagne. You can find her invitation post here

As a quick aside, I'd like to give Julia an extra shout out. She's also helping us at Bâtonnage Forum by helping conduct our scholarship application process. This year we have 16 scholarships to give away to women of color in the wine and hospitality space to help them attend the event on Saturday, May 4 in beautiful Napa Valley. If you qualify and you’re interested in attending, apply here! Thanks Julia!

You can also buy your tickets here. They’re going fast!

Our Bâtonnage Forum scholarship recipients last year.

And of course, be sure to check out what the rest of the French #Winophiles have discovered about the Ladies of Champagne!




Additional sources used for this post
But First, Champagne: A Modern Guide to the World’s Favorite Wine by David White (This is a good examination of the region as a whole, it’s history, the subregions, and key producers.)


Some of my favorite books on wine are based are related to Champagne

The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It  by Tilar J. Mazzeo deals directly with the subject at hand and is a quick and interesting read.





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10 comments

  1. Another great read! It’s such a fun fact that Pommery paid the growers to give the grapes longer hangtimes to make Brut Champagne...smart lady!

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    1. Thanks Pinny! It's true, these Ladies were so savy!

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  2. I would love to learn more about Orianne and Ophélie! Thanks to your link I will now learn about them through their IG posts! And your soufflé looks delicious, fallen or not!

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  3. A soufflée and Champagne! I think they wrote a fairy tale about that once.

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  4. Loved reading your post Nicole. That Champagne sounds like one I would love. As does the pairing (though if a souffle can sense emotion, I'm in trouble;-)

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    1. Thanks Martin! Yes, they are scary in this respect, but delicious even when they flop, so no need to be too alarmed ;-)

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  5. Congratulations! Great article as they always are. The souffle and the champagne combination, DELICIOUS. Will have to try it for sure!!

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  6. Congratulations, great article! The combination of souffle and Champagne sounds delicious, will have to try it for sure!!! Thank you.

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