Rosé at La Marquetterie with Champagne Taittinger
Create an “all rosé” meal with the house’s three champagnes: Prestige, Comtes and Nocturne. This is the challenge achieved brilliantly for Grappers by Alessandra Montagne, Head Chef at Tempero (Paris, 13th arrondissement) in the sumptuous setting of Château de la Marquetterie, in Pierry.
A magical venue
La Marquetterie is a place enshrouded in history. Formerly home of writer Jacques Cazotte (1719-1792), its soul evokes a counter-revolutionary spirit (Illuminsim rather than Enlightenment) of intellectual soirées in the huge dining room and sunny lunches in the garden.
Pierre Taittinger who founded the Champagne house, was a man of tastes. Plural. A man of letters, a lover of find food, a liaison officer during the Great War, he did not know at the time that the house he bought in 1932 was the HQ of the High Military Command where, during the First World War, Joffre and de Castelnau fiercely discussed position and strategy. Pierre became a friend of General de Castelnau. When he was searching for a property for his future vineyard he was told that La Marquetterie was for sale; it was fate. He put his brother-in-law and son François at the helm of the estate (288 hectares of vines which are spread pretty much everywhere today).
This sumptuous house is today the venue of every meeting with distinguished guests. Vitalie Taittinger keeps a close eye on things with the active involvement of Géraldine Douley and her parents (her father is the vine manager), to date the only people who have lived in Château de la Marquetterie.
With its Louis XV style, this manor house built in 1734 embodies the spirit of now. The Taittinger signature. This signature is epitomised by the Rimbaldian(1) Vitalie. She interprets her house’s rosés (capable of making The Devil Fall in Love) with intricate and expressive gestures and words like “summer berry dust” to describe a 2006 Comtes, using lyrics from a song by Alain Bashung called “Angora”. That’s how a Taittinger rosé becomes a poem, an intoxicating gift...
It was at La Marquetterie that François Taittinger developed his innovative ideas about Champagne: owning his own vines to guarantee at least 50% independence, developing a brand in its own right, being the ambassador of your own wines, travelling... And a truly illuminated idea: focusing on high quality Chardonnay to produce champagnes with great added value.
When Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger bought the house in 2006, he supported his children, Vitalie and Clovis, with a young team, driven by a spirit of gentle conquest. Vitalie arrived at La Marquetterie in 2007 and tasted her first 1985 Comtes. It was a revelation...
A magical encounter
The day we met her, Vitalie was looking for a talented chef to design the ideal meal to celebrate the house’s three rosés. On that day she was totally charmed by Alessandra Montagne and the feeling was mutual. They both hit it off so well that, eight days later, the meal took place at La Marquetterie.
Remember that Vitalie continuously promotes the fact that the three Taittinger rosés - Prestige, Comtes, Nocturne – are three gastronomic wines. It’s the brand with a consistent vision; it has focused on rosé champagne from the end of the 1960s. A wine “which not only has colour, it also has meaning”, says Vitalie, with a glass of 2005 Comtes in hand.
Alessandra, a Brazilian from Rio de Janeiro born in 1977, fell into the magical cauldron of flavour at birth. Head Chef at Tempero (Paris, 13th) for the last 8 years, she earned her stripes with William Ledeuil (Ze Kitchen Galerie) and Adeline Grattard (Yam’Tcha), two high-flying Parisian chefs. Alessandra produced her first meal matching rosé champagnes on 23rd May, without forgetting her carioca roots.
The magic of rosés
“Comtes”, for Comtes de Champagne, is Taittinger’s vintage rosé. For 2005 and 2006, Vitalie speaks of structured, fleshy wines with pronounced fruit flavours.
Orangey in colour, slightly oxidised, bright and lively acidity, opulence and generosity, but first and foremost a balanced wine. In it you will find the “fruit dust” she describes, like a trace element: not too much. Pinot Noir seems crushed by the Chardonnay, like a distant memory of fruit, a caress, an energy combined with gentleness. Wines for laying down, too.
The 1985 was still full of energy: “Ah! It’s got a punch!” said Vitalie, more than ten years after her discovery. Approved. Prestige and Nocturne are non-vintage brut champagnes. The second is calmer, “like a treat, a candy” sums up Vitalie. Perfect with a dessert or by itself. Prestige is the final Taittinger rosé, its smoothness produced by the fruity substance. Its barely ripe strawberry flavours, crisp at the core, the liveliness of Chardonnay and the structure of the Pinot Noir make it a comprehensive rosé.
Gastronomic at the beginning and end of a meal. A signature.
The magic of the match
Alessandra and Vitalie didn’t waste any time. Particularly Alessandra. There was a two-fold thought process: match rosé champagnes with strong personalities to an inventive, fresh, seasonal, varied, subtle cuisine and also keep the colour pink as a common theme throughout.
The first starter combined beautiful green asparagus from Avignon with skinny, wild asparagus, concentrated in flavour and drizzled with a pale pink taramasalata sauce lightly whipped with olive oil. “Prestige” fits them like a glove,” exclaimed Vitalie.
The same emblematic wine with its characteristic smoothness accompanied red mullet fillets with their pretty pink silvery skin, “just charred quickly with the blow torch,” explains Alessandra, and served with a purée of carrots with young lemon zest. All sprinkled with a few elderberry and nasturtium flowers.
Prestige was also served with the third starter, its energy, elegance and freshness provided by the high proportion of Chardonnay (30%) combined with the Pinot Noir. It was a salt- and sugar-baked hake, washed then dried, garnished with olive oil and served with creamed yellow beetroot marbled with a few chickweed sprouts. Mineral and plant went marvellously with the wild raspberry flavours of the champagne.
With the main course, the 2006 Comtes de Champagne and its wonderful substance made a sensational entrance. A leg of lamb from the Mont Saint-Michel salt marsh was roasted at 68°C for 14 hours, served with a reduced jus lightened with lemon grass and ginger, a touch of sweetened saké, a few drops of soy and miso and an exquisite hint of fresh orange juice. The dish was supported by sweet potatoes (Ola Brasil!) and violet potatoes with the subtle flavour of summer berries, alongside a few peas, broad beans and carrots.
Dessert was appropriate for the stage entrance of Nocturne and its insolent deliciousness, salutary and silky acidity. “This cuvée is like a dalliance, a desire, an irresistible yearning,” said Vitalie. Alessandra rose to the very last challenge with a sumptuous strawberry and verbena gazpacho, Swiss meringue and lime, topped with a light black sesame crumble.
(1) Vitalie was the name of Arthur Rimbaud's mother.