feeling bubbly: visiting Bouzy with Andre Clouet

Nothing screams with more vibrancy during the Holiday season than my yearning for bubbles.  The sommelier will call out from the kitchen, “well what are you in the mood for?” and I nearly fall out of my chair with a sparkly response of “bubbles.”

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At our house, this almost always means Champagne, and since the sommelier has taken on this new role with Classified Wines over the past year, admittedly, we have been quite spoiled.  Time and time again, we have confessed to our love for André Clouet, a small family based producer based out of the Grand Cru village of Bouzy. This village (pronounced “Boozy”) is especially known for still red wine made from Pinot Noir, partially due to the warmer conditions, and therefore, riper grapes. While most popular Champagnes are from the same domaine region of Reims, Bouzy stands out because of the quality of the Pinot Noir produced.

André Clouet’s 20 acres of vineyards lie on the central slopes of Bouzy and Ambonnay, all Grand Cru sites in the Montagne de Reims.  The family is known for fastidiousness, and dates back to the 17th century, where the original ancestor who lived in the village house was a printer to Louis XV’s royal Court at Versailles.  In 1911, the great-grandfather of Jean-Francois Clouet created an elaborate ancien regime label as homage to the printer, which was even once painted by Edouard Manet. This label now appears on the Andre Clouet 1911.

photo (9)(picture taken by the sommelier April 2013.  pictured: Jean-Francois Clouet.)

There are three Clouet Champagnes that are recommended here, although there are a few more available through retail.  At any one time, you can say that all of them are my favorite.  Because they all are.

André Clouet Grand Cru Rose NV.  Mild salmon in color, with aromas of raspberries and strawberries, and mingled with drier, toasty complexity. Blended with 8% still Bouzy Rouge.  Excellent for pairing with all kinds of foods, especially charcuterie, shellfish, or cheeses.  Retails for $50.  (locally found at Specs)

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André Clouet Grand Reserve Brut NV.  100% Grand Cru estate-bottled Bouzy Pinot Noir aged six years, with aromas of strawberry and flavors of wheat and stone.   A touch of cream on the palate to complete the finish.  Pairs well with oysters, creamy pastas, poultry, and rich seafood.  Retails for $40.  (locally found at Specs)

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André Clouet 1911.  This Champagne reads like a novel.  Firstly, it is all also 100% Pinot Noir.  What makes this bottle so very special, however, is that it is a blend of the Clouet’s ten best lieux-dits in Bouzy, and normally from three consecutive vintages, generally half from the most recent year, and a quarter each from the preceding two.  In addition, the bottles are always hand riddled; this means someone literally turns the bottles every few days.  For the most recent release of Clouet 1911, disgorged in 2012, the Grand Cru Cuvee is a Pinot Noir blend of 1995 (25%), 1996 (50%), and 1997 (25%).  The color is gold, and the aromas are blossomy, with hints of honeysuckle and peach.  Drinks marvelously with raw oysters or steamed shellfish.  The climax? Clouet only blends 1,911 bottles per production, so if you see it on a menu or shelf, grab it. It will soon be gone.

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The Holidays are notorious for the clinking of glasses, sharing of joys, and wishing of cheer.  You might as well do it with a good glass of Champagne.  Cheers from our family to yours.  May you ring in the New Year with plenty of vibrant sparkle.

Be well. Live well. Drink well.

sometimes you just need a beer: finding joy in doing it all.

Ever have one of those days?  Where you wake so early that your stomach hurts? And you can’t concentrate because your mind is starved for rest, and love, and peace? And you feel like crying. And yelling.  And your shoulders are tight.  And….it’s only 10am?

Today was one of those days.  Again.  I seem to be having a lot of them lately.

There are so many responsibilities we take on as working mothers.  I won’t lie.  I wake up scrupulously early sometimes just so I can check email, peruse my updated territory performance data, and create my daily task list.  Once Rhea is up and about, it’s all milk, toast with butter and jam, and Daniel Tiger on DVR.  On our way to school, we talk about our day, if mommy or daddy is picking her up, and the colors of the leaves.  During the past few weeks the windows have been down while the words “orange”, “red”, and “yellow” have floated towards the front seat.

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Once we arrive, I take her hand and lead her to her classroom to leave her for the day; and sometimes for the night; and sometimes, but rarely, for the week.

From nine to five I work extremely hard, and smart.  There are challenges that present themselves on a daily basis, and while I have no qualms handling them, mostly I overanalyze and overthink situations. Well, we all have short comings. Even so, I am very successful in my career.

Here’s the thing, though.  I find joy in showing my daughter that she can be anything that she wants to be.  She can be an executive, a chef, a writer, a wife, and a mother.  She can have it all.  She deserves it all.  If she even wants it all; because maybe she makes the decision to choose just one.  Or none at all.  And we will love her no matter what.  Because that is what parents do. And it is her choice to make.

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When I pick Rhea up from school the radio turns from NPR to Toddler Tunes.  And once again, our conversations revolve around lunch items, art projects, books, and what we are cooking for dinner that night.  We usually come home to frenzied dogs and a house that is in desperate need of a maid.  Repeat: I really need a maid.

Sometimes balancing it all gets tremendously heavy; my shoulders ache with the weight of my world.  Most of the time, a glass of wine will relax my mind and heart and set my dreams into motion.

But tonight, I want a beer; because sometimes you just need a change.  So, I chose Austin’s own Adelbert’s Brewery to quench my thirst.  As far as my knowledge of foams and yeast and nuances of hops reside, I am beyond novice.  I am no cicerone.  But, what I do recognize is that I like a saison style beer, so I grab the Philosophizer at just under $10.  It’s clean and somewhat light, with citrus notes.  And it’s from Texas, so it’s local.  A perfect end to my day.  A break from the normal.

saison

Ahhh.  Just what the doctor ordered.  I can do it all.  again…  tomorrow.  And you know what?  It is worth every minute.  Because Rhea will know that everything is possible.  Because I have loved her enough to show her.

Cheers, y’all.