Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Pairing Legras & Haas Champagnes with Chinese Food
Pairing champagne with Asian food? Yes, it's growing in popularity as diners move beyond red wines usually offered in Chinese restaurants. The richer, heartier dishes in Asian cuisine pair nicely with drier styles of champagne, while spicy dishes fare better with their opposites - sweet styles of champagne. On top of that, champagne bubbles rinse the palate of oils and the acidity cuts through fat while the yeasty qualities pair well with soy flavours.
I had a chance to try some exquisite Legras & Haas champagne, brought in by Lollapalooza, which imports wines, champagnes, and also curates dinner events. Thanks to them, I am able to give away on my blog anniversary a bottle of Legras & Haas. Results will be updated on that post!
The Legras & Haas family is located in Chouilly, an area with the Chardonnay Grand Cru classification for the production of exceptional wines. Francois Legras and Brigitte Haas started the house in 1991, and it is now managed by their three sons - Remi, Olivier, and Jerome.
That's Jerome, Olivier, and Remi. Legras & Haas produces a range of six champagnes - Cuvee Tradition, Cuvee Rose, Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Millesime 2007, Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut, and Cuvee Exigence.
They have 15 hectares of Chouilly vineyards planted in Chardonnay grapes, seven hectares of vineyards in Pinot Noir grapes in Riceys (above) - the largest wine-producing village in the Champagne region - and 13 hectares of Chardonnay grapes in the Perthois region.
We tested the champagnes against some classic Cantonese and Teochew dishes at Crystal Jade Golden Palace. There's Lollapalooza co-founder Pang Hian Tee (far left) and Jerome Legras (far right).
Teochew style cold crabs; BBQ Pork with Honey/Crispy Roasted Pork Belly
The Legras & Haas Brut Tradition NV is a good match for cold crabs. The soft mousse and creaminess in the elegant, rounded Brut works especially well with the milt and roe. The BBQ pork seemed a little too sweet but matches the smoky brioche of the champagne. And the citrus notes sets off the rich and fatty pork just nicely while cleansing the palate.
We had a most excellent steamed fish (giant garoupa) that was clean-tasting and really umami. It went well with the finely balanced acidity of the Legras & Haas Blanc de Blanc, and the cilantro perks it up too. There's actually a champagne cocktail involving cilantro too. The spicy (and so delicious) Sauteed Frog Legs with Honey Peas in XO Sauce works well with a colder glass of blanc de blanc.
The Legras & Haas Blanc de Blanc Millesime 2007 we paired with
Prawns with Salted Egg Yolk; Seafood Fried Rice in Lotus Leaves
With the salted egg yolk, the acidity becomes more floral. I had also discovered earlier in Hong Kong that champagne goes very well with century egg.
Roasted Peking duck, Sauteed Beef Fillet with Mushrooms
The Legras & Haas Blanc de Blanc Millesime 2002 Magnum is amazing. Most red wines will seem too dry for the Peking Duck sweet sauce, and white wines will struggle to stand up against the roasted meat. But the nicely aged but powerful champagne performs nicely.
The beef's umami flavours, richness and slight sweetness also go well with the savoury and mellow fruit flavours of the champagne.
Sweet yam paste with pumpkin
Ending things off on a sweet note.
"I've found that a bottle of good champagne can be a bit of a chameleon at the dining table," says Hian Tee. "The multi-faceted nature of a good champagne brings out different elements in the dishes."
Hian Tee founded Lollapalooza with two other childhood friends Chiew Huan Chong and Terry Koh. They translated their passion for food and travel to a wine import business and evening dinner events featuring handpicked guest chefs and unusual venues. They see that consumers' initial forays into champagnes often start with a focus on well-known houses, but now more Singaporeans are seeking smaller grower-producers offering subtle distinctions in style and terroir.
As an importer, Lollapalooza seeks out individuals and artisanal heroes who are proud of their trade and make no compromises. The founders' visits throughout France brought them to numerous houses, among which Legras & Haas stood out.
Check out Lollapalooza's website for the full list of wines and products they carry.
Thanks to Geri of Linea for the invite. Photos no.2-4 are courtesy of Legras & Haas.