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Champagne and Asian cuisine: a match made in heaven!

While most of us have been taught champagne is meant to be opened for special occasions, we are here to tell you that every day of the week is a special occasion!

Like most wines, champagne goes beautifully with a variety of dishes and especially with Asian cuisine.

Do not limit yourself to pre-dinner champagne, pair your wine at every stage of the meal from appetizer to desert. 

Now you are probably wondering what fancy dish you could cook to enhance your champagne?

Well the good news is it does not need to be a 3 Michelin star dish!

A popular disbelief is thinking champagne does not pair well with everyday meals. On the contrary, there is no reason for you not to accompany tonight’s dinner with champagne. 

To show you just how unlimited your possibilities are, here is a list of some of our favorite Asian food and champagne pairings.

Sushi and Blanc de Blancs

Our champagne suggestion: Larmandier-Bernier ‘Latitude’ | NV | Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut

Although there is no denying sake and sushi go hand in hand, champagne and sushi are a match made in heaven. The balance between acidity and freshness in ‘Latitude’ adds a lot of complexity to the sushi.

Not only does the champagne’s effervescence cut through fat and saltiness but it also cleanses the palate and helps the taste buds focus on the flavour of the raw fish. The pure minerality of the champagne expresses  generosity and vitality which in turn deepens the texture of the sushi.

Our restaurant suggestion: Signature Ootoro Sushi at Hashida Sushi

Sea Urchin and Pinot Blanc

Our champagne suggestion: Pierre Gerbais | NV | L’Originale Extra Brut Pinot Blanc 

Sea urchin is a delicacy that is unusually complicated to pair. Because of its very peculiar palate, uni needs to be paired with a fairly acidic and mineral wine.

We love Drappier’s ‘Quattuor’ cuvée for its fresh grape, citrus fruit and white flower notes. The chiselled minerality and freshness of this champagne beautifully brings out the sea urchin’s strong earthy flavour.

Our restaurant suggestion: Marinated Botan Shrimp with Sea Urchin and Oscietra Caviar at Tetsuya’s Waku Ghin

Peking Duck and Blanc de Noirs 

Our champagne suggestion: Flavien Nowack ‘La Fontinette’ | 2013 | Blanc de Noir

With its juicy red fruit, cherry, strawberry and raspberry notes, Flavien Nowack’s Blanc de Noir is the perfect match for Peking Duck. We love how the smooth texture and fuller vinous style of the wine complements the thin, crispy skin of the duck.

The smoothness of its texture and suave, decadent herbal-mineral edge balances perfectly the richness of Peking Duck.

Our restaurant suggestion: Yàn at the National Gallery Singapore

Fried Chicken and Extra Brut

Our champagne suggestion: Bonnet-Ponson Premier Cru | NV | Extra Brut

What we enjoy with this pairing is how the citrus and toasted nut notes cut off the fat and greasy nature of the fried chicken. The upfront freshness of the Bonnet-Ponson counteracts the heaviness while the acidity and bubbles of the champagne bring magnitude to the dish and amplify its crunchiness.

Our restaurant suggestion: Rang Mang Shokudo

Wagyu and Vintage

Our champagne suggestion: Charles Heidsieck ‘Blanc des Millénaires’ | 2004 | Vintage Blanc de Blancs

If you are as much of a wagyu aficionado as we are, you will love this pairing! There is nothing that quite compares to the way wagyu beef melts on your tongue.

The density and texture of this vintage enhances beautifully the juicy, rich and delicate nature of wagyu beef.

No matter how you decide to prepare your meat; slow cooked, grilled over charcoal, marinated, etc… the fresh, mineral and toasty notes of the ‘Blanc des Millénaires’ will bring out the peculiar tenderness of your wagyu and make your meal that much more extraordinary.

Our restaurant suggestion: Australian wagyu served with a side of marrow bread at Burnt Ends 

Image courtesy of World’s 50 Best

Xiao Long Bao and Rosé

Our champagne suggestion: De Sousa Rosé | NV | Brut

The essence of the xiao long bao is the very flavourful meat juice contained inside its savory skin. To cut through the greasiness and give it some vigor, the De Sousa Rosé is the perfect choice.

We love how its creamy-mineral texture complemented by the notes of red-fruits and spices adds complexity to the dumplings. This champagne brings out the dish’s delicacy on the palate.  

Our restaurant suggestion: Din Tai Fung steamed pork dumplings

Black Sesame Mochi and Vintage Sec

Our champagne suggestion: Philipponnat ‘Sublime Réserve’ – Sec | 2002 | Blanc de Blancs

What we love with this pairing is how the champagne’s fizz cuts through the richness and chewiness of the sweet rice and black sesame paste.

Besides the bubbles, the slight acidity and freshness of the ‘Sublime Réserve’ bring out notes of white fruit, butter and honey that go tastefully with the mochi’s delicious nutty flavours.

Our shop suggestion: Kane Mochi

Yuzu or Lemon Tart and Ratafia

Our ratafia suggestion: Egly-Ouriet Ratafia de Champagne

Although ratafia is not technically champagne, it is a very savory liqueur made in Champagne from grape juice that was fortified after being pressed and grape spirit distilled from champagne.

In this pairing the roles are reversed. The yuzu tart brings a lot of acidity to the palate while the ratafia will balance it with sweetness, smoothness and creaminess.

It is an unusual and yet elegant pairing.

Our restaurant suggestion: Lemon tart and sable breton and basil sorbet at Odette

Ratafia de Champagne
Image courtesy or https://www.flickr.com/photos/cityfoodsters/

So if there is anything you should retain from this article, remember you always have a good reason to pop open a bottle of champagne and pair it with your Tuesday takeaway!

Comtes, Cristal and 1522 Knowledge

Champagne: The investment you never knew you wanted

It seems whenever we talk about champagne as a serious investment opportunity, a lot of people are unaware of the scope and great returns a seriously good vintage can acquire. The coveted champagne market is increasingly proving that investing in this fine wine is not the novelty it was once thought of.

Although entering into this business may seem a little intimidating, here are some questions I’ve frequently come across I’ve answered her for your investment information.

What are the top elements to consider when purchasing champagne as an investment, as opposed to buying a bottle to enjoy?

Brand power is important in this market – there’s a profit to be made from vintage champagne with ever-growing demand as the years pass as well as limited production. Exposure to brands through restaurants, nightclubs and notable publicised events will raise familiarity therefore increase the growing demand.

The year of the vintage is an important factor. The vintages of 1990 and 1996 are universally considered to be quite exceptional. The value of champagnes as an investment should not solely rest on critics scores, but the year the grapes were harvested in and their evolution over time. Jancis Robinson has published fantastic wine time charts which give you a good indication of how certain vintages mature differently: www.jancisrobinson.com

Past performance of vintages and specific brands does not guarantee future results. Use those stats as an indicator for the potential others in a similar category may hold in the market. The London International Vintners Exchange is a global market place for fine wine and a great way to start your research: liv-ex.com

What are the best regions or top brands to consider purchasing an investment champagne from?

Some things to consider is that the market is quite complex, with dominant producers at play and each house varying from one to the next. Moët releases several million bottles of Dom Perignon each year, Philipponnat release between 4,000 and 11,000 of their Clos de Goisses depending on the year and Champagne Salon only conduct around four harvests per decade to produce their vintage Mesnil.

Looking at these numbers there is no consistency throughout the entire bubbly market but don’t let that deter you! Other top brands to look out for include Krug and the of course Louis Roederer Cristal who’s 2008 vintage was the most traded in terms of value in 2018.

An example of a great investment opportunity can be seen in Dom Perignon 08. Aged for 11 years, the wine still holds its freshness and intense minerality. On the day Dom Perignon 2008 was released it sold for £1,200 for a crate of 12 and rose 16% in one day to £1,400.

Bottles that have been discovered from historic shipwrecks lost at sea dating back centuries ago. The sea was shown to be a perfect environment for ageing champagne, companies have begun using this method today to age their cuvées.

If you ever come across a little shipwrecked beauty, old or new, it could make you a pretty penny in investment!

How are investment champagnes managed?

Wine trading is an unregulated market, so if you ever want to invest you must find someone reputable. It is essential to do a background check on wine merchants. This includes them having an office you can visit – not just a flashy website. You should also never invest in champagne through a cold call!

Legitimate champagne investments are made in a number of ways. There is a large pool of private investors as well as collectors and auction houses. Champagne is a luxury good and there is always demand for it. With this demand, the Appellation d’origine controlee (AOC) is a ground that regulates the available stock so there is no flood of particular vintages on the market – assets can only increase in value as champagne becomes more difficult to find.

How should I store an investment champagne?

Champagne investments need to be stored in a safe and temperature-controlled environment between 7-12 degrees Celsius. A dark room with no exposure to light is best so there is minimal light damage. Usually, when investing through a champagne merchant, they will already have a storage facility specifically designed to store your investment correctly and safely.

Any other important points I should consider?

In the past decade, champagne investment returns have beaten those from the stock market! It is important to note that champagne cases have risen 30% in value and vintage Cristal has risen up to 40%.

The average investment for a case of quality champagne is valued at around $2,755 SGD and one bottle at $230 SGD.

It is also highly recommended to buy these investment pieces in cases of 6 or 12, and to keep the original boxes. This increases the resale possibility by opening up your buy base to fine dining restaurants and hotels who will want to list rare wines on their lists and makes it easier to ensure that the wines they are buying are from the same disgorgement.

So, if you’re considering investing in some bubbly prospects, consider these points carefully and consult all of your options. If you’re still unsure or just need a friendly voice to talk through it all, our Emperor Concierge team is always ready to offer advice and lead you in a direction tailored to your needs and desires.

And if your champagne investment turns out not to be quite the success you were hoping for, you can always pop open your bottle and drown your sorrows in a wonderful vintage!

Storing Champagne Knowledge

The 8 golden rules for storing champagne

Champagne is a living, breathing product which slowly breaths through the porous cork and over time oxidates. To avoid premature oxidation when storing champagne there are 8 cardinal sins to be avoided at all cost.

Avoid temperature fluctuations

The biggest culprit for spoiling wine is fluctuation in temperature. Ideally you should keep your cuvees between 10 and 12 degrees Celsius which would be similar to ageing them below ground in the chalk pit cellars of Champagne. They can be kept safely at warmer temperatures (we wouldn’t recommend any higher than 22, so room temperature in Singapore is definitely discouraged), but make sure the temperature is consistent.

Keep bottles away from bright light

Precious bottles can be very delicate and easily damaged by lightstrike, sometimes a few minutes in direct sunshine can age a fine drop prematurely. Keep your wines in a dark place, or shield them from artificial and natural light (eg screen them with tinted glass or wrap them in yellow cellophane or aluminium foil). Fluorescent lights can also fade the labels.

Ensure consistent humidity

The finest wine fridges and cellars replicate the conditions of an underground vault, and the conditions in your refrigerator are far from this. Humidity should be between 50 and 80 percent which rules out the kitchen fridge as the dry air will dehydrate the corks letting too much air into the bottles.

Keep your bottles away from vibrations

Placing your wines next to a moving object can increase premature ageing. Movement introduces unnecessary kinetic energy into the bottle which not only affects the way the sediment rests in the bottle, but also can cause chemical reactions which change the balance of the wine.

This is why the best wine fridges have wooden racks which absorb shock and shaking.

Lay down your babies

If you’re keeping a bottle for a special occasion, lay it down in the cellar. This keeps the cork moist and the liquid seals the bottle. Especially if this is a prestige cuvee or a special vintage. If you’re planning to drink it within a month or so, it can stay standing.

Size matters: the magnum effect

Take note here; a magnum has double the contents of liquid as a 750 ml bottle yet the same amount of air under the cork. This means we have a lower wine to air ratio hence the wine slows down its ageing profile and develops in a far more complex way.

The contents of a magnum are far superior to a 750ml and you will see much more depth and complexity whilst still retaining freshness. They also say that a magnum is the perfect size for 2 people… when one isn’t drinking.

Drink your non-vintage champagnes fresh, and age your vintages

Champagne is one of the only regions in the world where the cellar master decides on how long the wine should be aged, and sends it out to market when it is ready to be enjoyed. As a non vintage champagne is a blend of multiple years and sometimes many different harvest over the years, it already showcases the complexity that the winemaker had envisaged for this drop.

A good rule of thumb, is that the time the cuvee has spent in the cellar before being released to the world is the time within it should be opened. Most NV’s are aged around 3 years, so don’t save them for that special anniversary. Make your Tuesday evening an occasion by bringing out that special bottle.

Invest in a wine cabinet which will keep your champagnes safe and sound and shield them for all the above dangers. And if you don’t have the space, just drink it. After all, that’s what it is made for!

Wine News

The 8 best champagne cellars in Asia

At Emperor, we believe the closest places to heaven on earth all have free flowing champagne. So we’ve put together a list of the best places in Asia for a die-hard champagne lover to get their fix – if you can get an invitation…

Best champagne Cellars in Asia

  1.     Grand Lisboa – Macau 
  2.     Henry Tang’s elusive collection – Hong Kong
  3.     Unesco World Heritage Bunker Cellar – Hong Kong
  4.     The Transcendant Collector – Hong Kong
  5.     Dr Gordon Ku’s private collection – Singapore
  6.     Petrus Restaurant – Hong Kong
  7.     Bungaraya resort – Borneo 
  8.     Atlas Bar – Singapore

#8. Atlas Bar – Singapore

Bottles: close to 2,000

Singapore’s very own Atlas bar is an ode to the roaring twenties and also happens to have one of the largest champagne lists of Asia with over 300 champagnes on offer.

It’s hard to miss the tower cellar when you arrive which holds some 250 bottles of the oldest champagnes in Asia including not one, but 4 bottles of Heidsieck & Co Monopole 1907 vintage retrieved from the Jönköping shipwreck.

You can taste this piece of history for the humble sum of SG$190,000.

Parkview Square was the final project of the late Hong Kong-based property developer, C. S. Hwang, who also built a vault for large format bottles and the private family collection upstairs in the Parkview Square building.

Photo – Atlas Bar – Singapore

#7. Bungaraya Resort – Borneo

Bottles: over 5,000
Champagne: Think back vintage Cristal, single vineyard Clos de Pompadour Magnums from Pommery and Sir Winston Churchill.

You certainly wouldn’t expect the largest cellar in Malaysia to be tucked away on a tropical island off the coast of Borneo, but this secluded 5 star resort has an underground cellar dubbed “The Koi Wine Cave” which holds over 5,500 rare and exclusive wines.

These can be enjoyed in the cellar lounge, the restaurants or in your private infinity pool overlooking the south china sea with a cigar from their impressive collection.

Bungaraya Resort, The Koi Wine Cave Borneo
The Koi Wine Cave – Photo Bungaraya Resort

#6. Petrus Restaurant in Hong Kong

Bottles: over 12,000
Champagne: 1982 & 1990 Clos des Goisses, 1990 Cristal Jeroboam, Pierre Peters 2008 Les Chetillons, or the limited edition Piper Heidsieck by Jean-Paul Gaulthier.

Curated by Master Sommelier Yohann Jousselin, the wine list at Petrus boasts over 12,000 listings, and was the Champagne List of the Year 2018 in the China Champagne Awards.

With spectacular views from every table, there is no better place to enjoy a bottle of 1964 Krug in Asia.

Find their amazing wine list here – http://bit.ly/Petrus-Wine-List

Petrus Restaurant in Hong Kong
Petrus Restaurant in Hong Kong has an outstanding cellar – Photo Petrus Restaurant

5. Dr Gordon Ku’s private collection – Singapore

Bottles: 15,000
Champagne: the likes of 1996 Salon and Krug Clos du Mesnil en magnum.

In 2013, respected physician and founder of Singapore’s Kidney Dialysis Foundation, Dr Gordon Ku sold his apothecary collection through Christies Hong Kong.

Despite having sold 700 lots at close to USD $5 million in this auction, Dr Ku still holds around 15,000 bottles in his collection.

“The fact that I am a doctor is coincidental; but wine does have some medicinal value as known from even medieval days.”

Dr Gordon Ku
Gordon Ku sold his apothecary collection
Dr Gordon Ku’s – Apothecary collection – Photo Christies

#4. The Transcendant Collector

Bottles: over 16,000 sold at one single auction

A mysterious collector auctioned off a portion of their cellar in March this year which broke records for the highest-estimated wine auction in history.

The most significant single-owner wine sale ever held this March included over 350 lots of Dom Perignon going back to the 1926 vintage and raked in close to 30 million USD.

The 2704 lots, including 16884 bottles were offered for sale in Hong Kong by Southerby’s.

“With Sotheby’s Wine’s annual worldwide sales surpassing US$100 million in 2018, we continue to focus on offering outstanding single-owner wine collections, and it is with great anticipation that we present Transcendent Wines, the highest estimated wine collection ever to be seen at auction, anywhere in the world.”

Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide head of Southerby’s wine

The seller remains anonymous to this day, and one can only imagine what they decided to hold on to.

The Transcendant Collector - Stunning Champagnes and more.
Epic wine cellar cache went under the hammer at Southerbys – Photo (PRNewsfoto/Sotheby’s)

3. Unesco World Heritage listed Hong Kong bunker

Bottles: over 25,000

This Second World War ammunition bunker was reconverted in 2002 to house 25,000 bottles and multiple tastings rooms by Crown Wine Cellars.

The heritage listed bunker is 15 metres deep into a remote Hong Kong hillside and provides perfect storage conditions with constant cool temperatures, balanced humidity and state of the art security including a reinforced vault which rivals that of the most prestigious banks and wartime machine guns emplacements flanking the entrance.

“Our business is not just wine;
it’s wine and heritage,”

Gregory De’Eb 

Read more on this historic wine cellar http://bit.ly/Bunker-Cellar

Unesco World Heritage listed Hong Kong bunker - Now Wine Cellar
Hong Kong Bunker Cellar

2. Henry Tang’s elusive collection – Hong Kong

Bottles: unknown
Former politician has been collecting since the 1970s and recently put a small proportion of his cuvees through Christie’s in 2013 grossing US$6.22 million.

He is a lover of Pinot and Chardonnay and his collection spans 3 locations; London, Paris and in multiple undisclosed locations in Hong Kong.

Henry Tang’s elusive collection
Henry Tang – Wine Collector

#1 Grand Lisboa – Macau

Bottles: 100,000
Champagne: Think 1959 Drappier, 1982 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises and the ultra-exclusive Boërl & Kroff 1996 in magnum.

In the basement of Macau’s tallest building, lies over 100,000 bottles of wine, including almost 17,000 different labels.

The cellar spans 14 different compartments and services all the fifteen restaurants in the building including three Michelin-starred Robuchon au Dôme, which was awarded the Best Overall Wine List in the World in The World of Fine Wine World’s Best Wine Lists 2016

Grand Lisboa, huge cellar Macau
Grand Lisboa – Macau

One thing these collections have in common are perfect storage conditions. If you’re wondering how you should be keeping your champagne fresh in a tropical climate, read more on our article on optimal champagne cellaring.