Sunday, August 18, 2013

Miss Jaq Heads to China

Some of Boo's and my greatest adventures have happened either with or because of our dear friend, Miss Jaq.  She spent a decade teaching in Abu Dhabi and the U.A.E. and we travelled there twice to visit her.  Our last appearance in Abu Dhabi and environs was prior to my starting this blog though. Consequently, there are no great travelogues or tales of Arabian nights to be found here.  Miss Jaq does, however, appear in the blog as one of our drinking buddies on a number of occasions - including one of our favourite events, the Annual Miss Jaq Wine Picnic.

Having spent the last year in Vancouver, Miss Jaq was getting restless and, this time around, she's not bound for the Middle East but is heading off to China to work a school in Luoyang - a small town of about 4 or 5 million folks. With her departure imminent, her social schedule was more than booked but, luckily, she managed to fit in one last visit with us.

I figured her newest adventure called for a bit of a celebratory tipple.

1395.  N.V. Champagne Lanson Brut Rosé (Champagne - France)

I can't say that I imbibe big "C" Champagne regularly. Like most folks, true Champagne is reserved for fairly rare occasions in our household. However, I have, over the years, tended to reach for Lanson if faced with making a choice of which Champagne to pick. Lanson Black Label Brut is my "go to" bubbly but I was quite intrigued when I ran across a bottle of their Brut Rosé. The $75 sticker price may give you an idea why we don't have a steady supply of this wine in our cellar, but it was certainly nice to be able to pop this cork during our visit with Miss Jaq.

Lanson saw its origins in 1760 when Maison Delamotte was established as the third Champane House. The winery has seen a number of re-stylings over the years, but it is still a "family-run House." Like many Champagne Houses, Lanson has a storied history and some delightful tales to tell. Notably, Queen Victoria made Lanson an Official Supplier to the Court of England in 1900 - "an honour that the Lanson House has held ever since." Indeed, the bottle's shoulder label proclaims the winery as "Purveyors by Appointment to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II." Lanson has been and continues to be served to many royal families (Spain and Monaco have also named it as an official supplier to the court) and at many heads of state tables. The winery's website and historical timeline includes the fact that the Queen Mother celebrated her 100th birthday with Lanson (and here I thought she was a Gin Gal).

The winery itself celebrated its 250th anniversary with a party at the Château de Versailles. Now that's a shindig that I'd have loved to corral a ticket for.

As for the Brut Rosé, it was first created in 1950 and was one of the first of its kind in Champagne. It is currently the best selling Rosé Champagne in the UK and, with New Year's Eve heading into Y2K and a new millennium, Lanson sold a record 8 million bottles, making 1999 the best year in the winery's long history.

The wine is a blend of 53% Pinot Noir, 32% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier and, in true Lanson style, it sees no malolactic fermentation and three years of cellar ageing (twice the minimum required). The light salmon colour is produced by the addition of a Coteaux Champenois Bouzy Rouge (made from Pinot Noir) and their website describes the resulting wine as "crisp, fresh and uplifting, with an exceptional purity of fruit."

I'm not so sure I'd would have come up with the same descriptors. We were too busy discussing the inevitable challenges that Miss Jaq was going to run into regarding food and drink. We're pretty sure she's not going to be running across the standard Ginger Beef and House Chow Mein that we order in Vancouver.

We've also determined that she won't be drinking the water. Hopefully, finding wine will be a whole lot easier in Luoyang than it was in Abu Dhabi. With all the wine being made in China nowadays, Miss Jaq will, undoubtably, come to know more about Chinese wine than anyone I know. I'll have to get her to write a few guest blog posts.

Ultimately, we finished off the Lanson far too quickly. There were a number of topics yet to be mined - including whether Boo and I would be able to pay her a visit in China (the Terracotta Warriors are apparently very close to Luoyang) and what the heck she was going to do with all the large-sized condoms Boo gave her as a going away present. She took the empty bottle, though, as a sign that it was time to move onto the next batch of her adoring fans.

We're going to miss her but I promise to have another bottle of Lanson ready to celebrate her return to Vancouver!

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