Vue De Monde
Level 55, Rialto Building
525 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC
(03) 9691 3838
What’s one of the first words you think of when I say “base jump”? Before a couple of weeks ago, it might have been “scary” or “high”, but after this incident, I’m sure most people would say “Vue de Monde”! Vue de Monde has moved to its new location on Level 55 of the Rialto building, offering diners a splendid view of Melbourne.
LEFT: Ground level entrance to the special lift for Vue De Monde patrons
RIGHT: The glorious view of Melbourne from the 55th floor of the Rialto Building
What’s one of the first words you think of when I say “champagne”? You might think “French” or “bubbly”, but one of the words you should think of is “Jayne”. Jayne Powell, aka Champagne Jayne, is a well respected Australian independent reviewer, author and expert in champagne. Fresh off her win of the Champagne Educator of the Year Award at the 2012 Champagne Summit in London, and the 2011 Best French Wine Book Award in Paris for her first book Champagne – Behind the Bubbles, Champagne Jayne hosted the (sold out) Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event “First Ladies of Champagne Lunch” at Vue de Monde, where we were taken on a journey of five courses, matched to five prestige champagnes.
LEFT: First Ladies of Champagne Lunch menu
RIGHT: Champagne Jayne talking to the group
I used to be one of those people who referred to sparkling wine as champagne, until one day I learnt that champagne can only be called champagne if it actually originates from the Champagne region of France. Clever marketing has seen me become familiar with brands such as Moet & Chandon, Bollinger, Dom Perignon and Veuve Clicquot, so I was interested in tasting the champagnes Champagne Jayne had in store for us which I had never heard of. If you want to learn more about champagnes, Champagne Jayne’s website is a fabulous starting point. The lunch was called “First Ladies of Champagne” as the first four champagnes were made by ladies.
The array of champagnes we would be trying
TOP: Food being prepared to come out of the kitchen
BOTTOM: Champagne Jayne talking to the group
Upon arrival, everyone was given a glass of bubbly, which was poured from a bottle that had been wrapped in foil to hide the label. It was an interesting experiment to see if we could tell the difference between sparkling wine and champagne. The hidden bottle was the House of Arras Grand Vintage 2004 sparkling wine, made in Tasmania. Champagne Jayne rates the Arras Grand Vintage as comparable to French Champagne. It is a chardonnay and pinot noir blend described as honeysuckle and brioche with underlying mushroom notes and a creamy long lasting palate full of lingering peach and melon flavours with hints of green apple. The 2003 vintage is available at Dan Murphy’s for around $60.
LEFT: Hidden bottle
RIGHT: 2004 Arras Grand Vintage sparkling wine
Everyone was then seated to start the 5 course degustation lunch. The first course was a plump piece of marron tail, served with the most luscious tarragon butter you’re likely to taste, as well as two thin discs of kohlrabi, under which some black caviar was hiding. The champagne served with this course was the 2006 Philippe Gonet which I missed getting a picture of. It is 100% chardonnay and was described as a fleshy and generous palate of vanilla and butter notes, which opens up to dried citrus fruit notes (lemon and grapefruit) and a vivacious mineral and lasting finish.
Marron, kohlrabi, caviar, tarragon butter
The second course was a ‘salad’ of tomato, watermelon, fennel and apricot, set in a clear jelly and topped with frozen wasabi sorbet. The frozen wasabi had melted by the time I took a photo with my camera, but it meant it had dispersed nicely through the other elements on the plate. The champagne served with this course was the 2006 Paul Bara Special Club Rosé. It is made from Grand Cru pinot noir with a dash of chardonnay from a place called Bouzy. That made me giggle a little! This champagne is described as strawberries and pastry on the nose, this luscious fruity wine is very lacy and seductive, full of ripe fruits but with balanced acidity and a lingering creamy finish. I don’t normally like rosés, but this one was something special.
LEFT: Tomato, watermelon, fennel, apricot, wasabi
RIGHT: 2006 Champagne Paul Bara Special Club Rosé
The third course was shredded spanner crab, sandwiched between two thin, triangle slices of rockmelon with some salmon roe on top. Rockmelon is usually paired with salty prosciutto, but the thin slices of rockmelon also worked with the sweet spanner crab. The champagne served with this course was the 2000 Duval Leroy Femme. It is a chardonnay and pinot noir blend with incredibly fresh yet firm palate combining vanilla, brioche and citrus fruits.
LEFT: Spanner crab, rockmelon, salmon roe
RIGHT: 2000 Champagne Duval Leroy Femme
The fourth course was confit chicken breast, with a few pieces of what tasted like poached chicken and served with a macadamia flavoured jus. The confit chicken was very tender and juicy. The champagne served with this course was the 1999 Pommery Cuvee Louise. It is a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot described as fruit aromas, reminiscent of greengage, but also yeasty notes…[and] gently spicy caramelised pear notes. It was interesting to hear Champagne Jayne say that this champagne drank better when she had it in London. It may have been that particular bottle, or maybe travelling halfway across the world affects wine quality.
LEFT: Confit chicken, macadamia, apple
RIGHT: 1999 Champagne Pommery Cuvee Louise
The final course was dessert. It was prettiness on a plate! There were small mounds of meringue, a quenelle of lemon meringue ice cream, a mountain of a sweet white powder reminiscent of snow, hiding a tangy lemon curd and finished off with a few drops of parsley oil on the plate. The best champagne was saved for last. The Armand de Brignac (Ace of Spades) was voted the number 1 champagne in the world in a blind tasting of 1000 champagnes. The gold, paperless bottle is beautiful and at around $550-$600 a bottle, I feel lucky to have been able to drink a couple of glasses! The Armand de Brignac is a blend of 40% chardonnay, 40% pinot noir and 20% pinot meunier and is described as complex and full bodied, with light floral notes, a racy fruit character, with subtle brioche accents and a long, creamy finish.
LEFT: Lemon meringue ice cream, white chocolate, lemon curd, parsley
RIGHT: NV Champagne Armand De Brignac
We finished with some petit fours and tea and coffee.
LEFT: Petit fours
It was a magnificent afternoon of fun and frivolity, with beautiful views, food and champagne. Champagne Jayne is a wonderful, natural public speaker and a barrel of laughs! If you get the chance, I would highly recommend you attend one of her events to hear her share her knowledge on champagne and try out some of the champagnes she recommends. She’s not affiliated with any brands, so she is not trying to push a particular product.
Champagne Jayne with her book award
I think it’s true that champagne makes you happy and bubbly, unlike other types of alcohol which can make you feel down in the dumps! I also think it’s true that the good stuff doesn’t give you hang overs, because I woke up the next day feeling fine even though we continued for a few more champagnes at the adjacent Lui Bar after the event! I now wish I could drink French champagne all the time 🙂
The Lui Bar
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite photos of the day.
Drinking champagne, on top of the world (or Melbourne at least!)
Over & Out, April xx
April attended the First Ladies of Champagne lunch as a guest of Champagne Jayne.