Le Cirque is an elegant, upscale French restaurant, tucked in the large glass skyscraper of the Bloomberg Building. The restaurant’s dining rooms (upstairs private room and the main dining room) had lighting fixtures that vaguely reminds me of Dale Chihuly’s colorful artwork at the ceiling of Bellagio.
All of us were told to go upstairs, greeted with glasses of Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne NV.
As most were socializing, I watched the staff fill up the many flutes of with the various rosés this Champagne house creates with much agility and precision, preparing for the tasting and presentation with Nicolas Feuillatte’s newest Cellar Master David Hénault, who started earlier this year.
David Hénault was witty and lively when he discussed about the history of the brand, the techniques Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte uses to make their champagnes and rosés (such as blending and “bleeding”), and the house’s style (it’s about flavor than appearance, especially in the rosé).
Nicolas Feuillatte (he’s an 86-year old Frenchman, who is still around) created his brand in 1976, after inheriting a vineyard near Reims, the Domaine de Bouleuse.
Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte (CNF) has one of the oldest union of producers of Champagne in 1986 with Centre Vinicole. It comprises of 5,000 acres representing more than 280 vineyards, situated on a hill in the commune of Chouilly, on the road leading to Pierry, and overlooks the community of Épernay. This vineyard has 11 Grand Crus and 32 Premier Crus, which makes for very good wine. CNF is the third largest Champagne brand in the world.
If you’d like to see my video (it’s about 7 minutes long) of Mr. Hénault talk about Nicolas Feuillatte’s Rosé Champagnes, please play the above or CLICK HERE.
Of the five rosés set out for the tasting, I did find the 2004 Cuvée 255 Brut Rosé was interesting with the subtle woody notes as they were aged in oak barrels. It’s named 255 because it was aged in 255-liter barrels than the Champagne standard 205-liter barrel. (This cuvée is not available for sale in the U.S. unfortunately.) The Brut Rosé 2004 was refreshing and fruity. The Palmes d’Or Rosé 2003 with the deepest pink, almost red, blush was creamy and has subtle hints of allspice and pear.
After the wonderful tasting, we’re went back to the main floor for lunch, paired with more CNF Champagnes.
I sat and lunched with mostly professional trade wine writers, a modern lifestyle/etiquette writer, and a few who are in the wine industry.
The first course of sweet grilled shrimp with thin noodle-like strands of zucchini and coconut gremolata was a very good pairing with Nicolas Feuillatte Blanc de Blancs 2004. The smooth, 100% Chardonnay bubbly had subtle kaffir lime and pear with mineral notes worked with the coconut and curry flavors of the dish.
The Nicolas Feuillatte Cuvée Spéciale 2000 served with the wild mushroom risotto were simply fireworks. The earthy, mushroom-like flavors in the Cuvée Spéciale 2000 matched and emphasized the creamy, musky risotto.
My adjacent neighbors and I didn’t speak much throughout this course except commenting “this is sensational” and asked to pass that bottle of cuvée on the table to refill our glasses.
The third course (or entrée) was steamed halibut with truffled polenta, paired with Palmes d’Or Brut Vintage 1999. The halibut dish itself was pretty remarkable since I usually don’t care for steamed fish. It was perfectly steamed and it was a good backdrop to the creamy, truffle-y polenta.
The dish with the Palmes d’Or was very good. The dry, crisp wine is balanced, finely integrated, packed with subtle fruit and smoky flavors worked with the earthy, musky truffle polenta.
The strawberry shortcake dessert paired with Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé NV paired well. The rosé had strawberry notes that matched the dessert. The non-vintage Champagne was a wise move since the dessert won’t ruin the finesse and complexity of a vintage wine.
After dessert was finished, coffee was served. Reflecting my meal over coffee, it was a great experience to try the Champagne house’s current collection (especially the Cuvée Rosé 255).
All I needed was a nap and it was a good thing I took a day off from work.
To view more photos of my visit, please click through the slideshow (or view my Flickr set):
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Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne