The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2014

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Page 42 of 128

42 / the tasting panel / march 2014 TINSELTOWN TASTINGS "C hampagne goes with anything, just enjoy it," Clovis Taittinger told me before diving his fork into a Cobb salad—his first ever. Lunch was served in the glow of an unseasonably hot January sun on the patio of L.A.'s Sunset Tower Hotel in order that a small gathering might taste through a generous flight of Taittinger Champagnes, soundly arranged by the enchanting Katarina Maloney, Kobrand's PR Manager. In May of last year, Maloney had arranged for me a visit to the ancient Taittinger grounds in Reims, France, where I toured the fourth-century chalk caves that are home to nearly three million bottles of Taittinger's Comtes de Champagne—all still riddled by hand. That morning, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, the family patriarch, hosted me for a private tasting. "Cellars that are alive are cellars that are empty," he told me, which I recounted to Clovis. The comment evoked a subtle, wry laugh from him, which I took to mean that like his dad's, his own cellar is often empty from bouts of divine liquidation. Clovis Taittinger is a chic, soft-spoken father of four, who possesses the undercur- rent of a wild side, which bubbled up over discussion of Taittinger Nocturne (SRP $81.99), a "sec" Champagne that reveals a delicate foam and is redolent of white flowers and stone fruit. The bottle is newly sheathed in disco ball tiles—a complete package that "breaks through the illusions" of desire, intimated Taittinger. The next day, donning a resplendent tuxedo, he appeared on the red carpet with Elisabeth Röhm, from the movie American Hustle, to toast to the opening of the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. For Taittinger, Clovis boasts the character one hopes to associate with a fine Champagne. Later in the evening, I met up with the charming Shelley Eichner, National Sales Director for Swanson Vineyards, at the Broadcast Film Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, CA. Napa Valley Vintners provided vinous sponsorship for the evening—imbuing each table with impressive wines, granting a select group of 11 vintners the chance to introduce their brands to some high-profile celebs, including Leonardo DiCaprio, who Eichner happily noticed had a magnum of Swanson 2009 Merlot perched near his place-setting. Purity Vodka provided spirituous refreshment. We dined with Lauren Ackerman of Ackerman Family Vineyards, Jimmy Wedner of Grgich Hills Estate and Steven and Lexi Contursi of Arrow&Branch. The highlight: Eichner and I met Aussie actress Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street), who talked of an upcoming trip to Napa Valley. She schooled us in the art of the Long Island accent, and we told her where to taste—altogether a thoroughly enjoyable affair. PHOTO COURTESY OF NAPA VALLEY VINTNERS Sparkling Illusions and Napa's Night in the Spotlight DEPUTY EDITOR JONATHAN CRISTALDI INTERVIEWS CLOVIS TAITTINGER AND ATTENDS THE CRITIC'S CHOICE AWARDS Katarina Maloney, PR Manager, Kobrand and Clovis Taittinger, Director of Exports for Taittinger. CREDIT: PHOTO COURTESY OF KOBRAND Taittinger's "Nocturne" sec Champagne. Representing Napa Valley Vintners were (left to right): Brittany Grant, Clos Du Val; Jimmy Wedner, Grgich Hills Estate; Elizabeth Hooker, Beringer Vineyards; Susie Owen, St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery; Lauren Ackerman Ackerman Family Vineyards; Lexi Contursi, Arrow&Branch; Shelly Eichner, Swanson Vineyards; Lars Ryssdal, Ackerman Family Vineyards. Not pictured: Lorenzo Mottola, Antica Napa Valley – Antinori Family Wine Estate; Bruce Devlin, Three Clicks Wine; Lisa Peju, PEJU; Boz Shahabi, Stonehedge Winery.

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