NV Ayala Brut Rose Majeur
 
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Table For Three at Jules Verne Alain Ducasse, Eiffel Tower and Ayala Rosé Majeur on Ice

This much is for sure: We didn't take these jobs for the money (just look at our bi-weekly pay stubs!). We took them for the perks. While staying in Napa Valley, we bunk down in a bungalow in the mossy forest just east of St. Helena. Owned by Bill Harlan and billionaire Stan Kroenke, Meadowood gets our vote as the #1 hotel in the States.

Last December, we maxed out our T & E budget over lunch at Four Seasons George V with Jacques and Nadia Diebolt. The five-course prix fixe for four, replete with Diebolt's Fleur de Passion and a 2008 Meursault-Genevrières from Francois Jobard was a line item on the monthly P & L!

But of all the perks of the last seven years, not one trumps yesterday's five-course meal at Jules Verne. We arrived at Charles de Gaulle at 7 a.m., took the shuttle to the airport Marriott and grabbed a room with two queen beds ("day" rate of $99!). We showered and then snored for the next four hours. At 11:45 a.m., we were in a taxi. Destination: Eiffel Tower.

When you take the Eiffel Tower elevator 125 meters above the city, and then step into designer Patrick Jouin's modernist dining room, Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea seems like another walk in Le Jardin du Luxembourg. With the steel girders of the tower in full view and the most beautiful city in the world down below, we were escorted to a table by the window. It was set for three. Our host? Cyril Delarue, whose family owns and manages Salon, Ayala and Krug. The magnum of Ayala Rosé Majeur was already on ice.

Ayala's Rosé Majeur has long been one of our favorite pink Champagnes, largely due to its unusual composition. Most Rosé Champagnes are made from a very high percentage of red grapes — Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Many of those are made by adding 10-12% of still Bouzy Rouge, deepening color, while imparting more vinous flavors and aromas. Rosé Majeur is another story altogether. Comprised of 50% Grand Cru Chardonnay, much of which is drawn from the same Le Mesnil holdings that go into the making of Salon and Krug. According to Cyril Delarue, Rosé Majeur is more like a perfectly chiseled Blanc de Blancs, slightly pumped up by a faint splash of rouge.

"At Ayala, we don't look at Rosé as others do. We make the wine just as we do the Blanc de Blancs of Salon. We pick 100 parcels, then micro-vinify each independently. The vinification techniques are geared towards retaining freshness and accentuating the
minerality of Le Mesnil's chalky soils. The Rosé must be rich, but very slow to evolve in the glass, slowly peeling away fine layers of limestone minerality. While most people tend to drink Rosé Majeur as an apéritif, in the family, if the cuisine is particularly refined, we drink it throughout the meal. That's why I invited you to Jules Verne!"

We began with a traditional vol-au-vent, a garnished puff pastry bathed in a lettuce cream, before moving on to a green pea crème, topped with king crab and spoonful of golden caviar. The Rosé Majeur accompanied both courses perfectly, and the magnum was just half full when the waiters set down the lukewarm asparagus accompanied by a truffled mousse. Then it was on to the sauteed turbot with morels, and finally Ducasse's classic Grenadin de Veau Rôti, a thick veal medallion swimming in a brothy meat juice accompanied by a light blanquette de légumes.

By the time dessert rolled around, Cyril had proven his point. While most of the tables at Jules Verne went from bubbles to Sancerre and then on to Burgundy or Bordeaux, we stuck with the chiseled elegance of Rosé Majeur throughout the afternoon. The Rosé Champagne that graces tables at hundreds of Michelin stars from NYC to Paris to Tokyo never missed a beat.

The Ayala Rosé Majeur Champagne Grand Cru is composed of 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot noir and 10% pinot meunier. Brilliant pale-pink to the edge. The bubbles are tiny and persistent, the effervescence a touch less pressurized than most Champagne. Mouthwatering aromatically with chiseled aromas of fresh red berries, roses and white pepper. Wonderfully juicy and perfectly delineated on the attack, slowly peeling away fine layers of luscious mineral concentration, long and complex, finishing with superb stony vibrancy.


Tasting Notes

NV Ayala Brut Rose Majeur
"50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot noir and 10% pinot meunier, our Rosé Majeur was pale pink to the edge. The bubbles are tiny and persistent, the effervescence seemingly a touch less turbulent than most Champagne. Mouthwatering aromatically with chiseled aromas of fresh red berries, roses and white pepper. Wonderfully juicy and perfectly delineated on the attack, long and complex, finishing with superb stony vibrancy."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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