Behind the Scenes: Nicolas the Sommelier of Chateau Asia

It is less than a month to Christmas, and Chateau Asia returns with their annual Champagne tasting in time for you to shop for your year-end bubblies.  Held again at the Tower Club at the penthouse level of Republic Plaza, enjoy sweeping views of the CBD while sipping fine wines from Champagne houses including Ruinart – the oldest of them all.

We caught up with Nicolas, the sommelier of Chateau Asia to learn more about the magic behind champagnes.

Ruinart Champagne at the Tower Club

What are the differences between large champagne houses and boutique, family-owned ones?

Champagne is more complex than it seems. In Champagne you have 4,600 wine growers selling Champagne, 43-co-operatives selling Champagne and 349 Champagne Houses.

Champagne Houses are the most famous brands, their wines are blended from grapes bought from highly selected vineyards. Once you understand those differences you need to understand that in Champagne, some merchants are buying grapes to make the wine on their own premises and market under their own label, some merchants are making wines from their own grapes (coming from their vineyards), some merchants buy white label wines and apply their marketing and finally some growers are structured under a co-op of a family firm of growers.

Champagne Houses will try to ensure their cuvee (the blend use for producing their wine) stays constant along the years while local growers will create a blend that is unique for the year.

With Ruinart and Perrier-Jouët under huge conglomerates like LVMH and Pernod Ricard with stock market pressures, do you think these heritage champagne houses have lost their unique identities?

It is a great question especially since you mention Ruinart and Perrier-Jouet. Indeed I think Pernod and LVMH have done a great job in preserving the true nature of those great Champagne houses. Ruinart is the oldest Champagne house and it is all about Blanc de Blancs. What LVMH has done is to help spread Ruinart through the world without altering its quality.

Out of the six, which champagne pairs best with heavy Christmas items like roast turkey or Christmas ham?

Actually we wouldn’t recommend Champagne with roast turkey or ham but rather a great Burgundy like Chambolle Musigny.  Champagnes like Billecart Salmon, Jacquesson or Ruinart can be enjoyed by themselves before the dinner with some canapés.

What’s your personal favourite champagne?

It is very hard to choose among those great Champagnes. However I would say the Ruinart Blanc de Blancs as it is associated with very good memories.

Why should anyone go for a champagne tasting the price of a bottle of champagne (instead of enjoying that bottle at home)?

Great question, our Champagne tasting is a unique opportunity to taste 6 very different wines that can be all called champagne. Most people do not know that 2 Champagnes can taste very differently and our goal at ChateauAsia is always to educate one regarding his/her taste in a fun way. Do you know if you prefer a Blanc de Blancs or a Blanc de Noirs? Do you like the strong and powerful bubbles or the soft ones?

Our Sommeliers and Wine Experts will be present to answer all your questions on Champagne. Plus the view from the Tower Club is really fantastic and the crowd at our event is always full of very interesting people.

Join us! Don’t stay alone with your bottle of Champagne, meet us with 6 Champagnes in a prime location instead : ).

What’s the best way to open a bottle of Champagne?

With a sword of course!