It’s Champagne Day! If you are like me, this is a welcome respite from the universe for the moment. Find a bottle and celebrate!
You realize, Champagne Day should be everyday. You don’t need a holiday to pop a bottle of bubbly from this esteemed region of France. Pop one for lunch mid-week. This year we all deserve a break for a little self-care and Champagne, IMHO is self care.
We settled for an afternoon lunch with an elevated grilled cheese and tomato soup and a couple of junk food snacks. (Junk food goes surprisingly well with Champagne).
First, the Champagne.
While I encourage you to celebrate with whatever is within your budget, if you can, look for an RM Champagne. What is that? Well “RM stands for “Récoltant-Manipulant”. These are Grower Champagnes. This indicates a grower who also makes their own Champagne. These tend to have more personality and you are supporting a grower. This runs in line with our “from dirt to glass” idea.
Our Champagne came from Champagne Franck Bonville Grand Cru in Avize. Located in the Côte des Blancs.
A bit of history
In 1900 Alfred Bonville bout plot of land in vineyards that had been destroyed by phylloxera. In 1937 despite the not so great economy, Alfred purchase a wine grower’s house in Avize and started making wine. This was soon after the birth of his son Franck. Today the fourth generation of this family continues to make Champagnes, from 77 plots covering 15 hectares in 3 Grand Cru Villages.
Since 2011 they have worked to stop using herbicides and insecticides, preserve biodiversity and work on efficiency for water use. They strive to work with nature.
Champagne Franck Bonville Brut – Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc
This wine is a Brut – Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc (or made from only white grapes. Here, Chardonnay).
- 100% Chardonnay
- From the Avize Grand Cru – Oger Grand Cru
- Blending: 2017 (50%) – 2016 (30%) – 2009 (20%)
- Bottled February 2018
- Dosage (that’s how much sugar was added) 8.83 g/L
See their video on YouTube
The nose had citrus fruit, lemon, lime zest and apple with light notes of bread and white flowers. The bubbles and finish were both persistent.
Grilled Cheese with Gouda, apple, bacon & honey
Okay…with Champagne, we decided to kick our grilled cheese up a notch. We chose Gouda because it works well with champagne with its buttery notes. We added apple to match the apple notes in this Champagne and bacon…well, any excuse to add bacon is a good one.
But really, bacon with it’s salt and fat is perfect with Champagne. You may have heard me say this before, I say it whenever I speak of bubbly, bubbles love fat. You take a bite of something fatty and salty and it is delicious. You take another bite and it’s still good, but never as good as that first bite. That’s because that delicious fat is coating your palate. Bubbles to the Rescue! The bubbles in sparkling wine and Champagne will clean that fat from your palate, so that every bite tastes as good as the first!
Lastly, we drizzled in a little honey. This went on Rosemary Olive Oil Bread, buttered on both sides and cooked it low and slow in the pan with the bacon grease.
(and some guilty pleasure sides and dessert)
What to serve as a side? Well, grilled cheese and tomato soup are a match made in heaven, and we had some tomato and roasted red pepper soup on hand, plus potato chips (yes, more fat and salt). Then for a decadent low-brow deserve (this is a big cheat!) glazed donuts!
Delicious all around! I found that the doughnut brought out light sweet floral notes in my mouth. (I’m picturing petals drifting slowing down landing in butter cream frosting.)
All right! What Champagne are you popping and what delicious treats are you munching?
The Recipe! Grilled Cheese with Gouda, apple, bacon & honey
- Bread (we used Rosemary Olive Oil bread)
- gouda sliced
- apple (sliced)
- fresh thyme
- cook the bacon to your desired crispness
- while that’s cooking (keep track of it though, don’t let it burn) butter the bread, on both sides.
- Build the sandwich! Bread, gouda, apples, honey, thyme, gouda, bacon, bread!
- Now stick in in the pan on med-low, so it can brown and the cheese can get gooey. Check it after 2 minutes. If it’s brown to your liking, flip it. If not, continue to cook and monitor.
- When done, slice and serve immediately!
This is grilled cheese my friends, feel free to mix it up! Use a different bread, a different cheese, different herbs or fruit, maybe add mushrooms (that would go great with the champagne, and I would have, but Michael hates mushrooms), grill up some onions to add, maybe drizzle on balsamic reduction or add a jam or chutney! The sky is the limit!
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.