Thu 1 Jan 2009
Usually I cook a Southern breakfast — eggs, grits, country ham and red-eye gravy, biscuits — on Christmas morning, but this year there was some confusion about Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas Day and going to visit people Christmas afternoon, so I postponed the Big Breakfast until this morning. Before doing that, however, I got up early, fed the dogs, read the newspapers and cooked the black-eyed peas with hog jowl and greens for good luck in 2009.
Later, though, we sat down to breakfast, brunch, I guess, since it was 11:30, with a bottle of the sublime Roland Champion Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru Champagne. Yes, we always have Champagne with the Big Southern Breakfast, with orange juice and coffee, too.
Roland Champion is a small family-owned producer, now with the fourth generation, in the village of Chouilly (“shoo-ee”), which has only Grand Cru vineyards. Made from 100 percent chardonnay grapes, this Champagne offers ethereal grace and poise and harmony; if I were fighting a duel tonight, I would ask for this Champagne as my last beverage. The nose here is about the richness of warm biscuits and hazelnuts, dried fruit and spice, like a Platonic, ineffably light fruitcake; in the mouth, however, it’s about a structure that encompasses an incredible marriage of power and elegance, like the delicacy and strength of the finest bone china. And there’s something porcelain-like about this Champagne, in its notable crisp, lively character, its transparency and its slightly chalky, shale-like mineral elements. Forget the Champagnes that come on with heavy toasty, caramel qualities; here, instead, is a wealth of subtlety and nuance touched with a racy, dynamic edge. Exceptional. About $65.
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils, Winchester, Va.