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Reserve Club Chandon Cuvée Trio Comes to Fruition

A few years ago, while contemplating ideas for exclusive, creative Prestige Member wine offerings, Sparkling Winemaker Tom Tiburzi and Senior Wine Ambassador Ellen Flora came up with a novel idea. What if you created a small batch of sparkling wine, divided it into thirds, and aged each sur lees—or in the bottle, with yeast—for three, four and five years?

Ellen Flora - Senior Wine Ambassador

A few years ago, while contemplating ideas for exclusive, creative Prestige Member wine offerings, Sparkling Winemaker Tom Tiburzi and Senior Wine Ambassador Ellen Flora came up with a novel idea. What if you created a small batch of sparkling wine, divided it into thirds, and aged each sur lees—or in the bottle, with yeast—for three, four and five years?

The result of this experiment, as Prestige Members know, is the Reserve Club Chandon Cuvée, a rare sparkling wine “vertical” that demonstrates, with remarkable clarity, the effects of sur lees aging over time. Chandon released the first two cuvées in 2008 and 2009, respectively, and the third and final member of the trio was included with the October 2010 Prestige Member wine shipment.

With the trio now complete, we recently sat down with Ellen to discuss the project, her recommended food pairings and how the stark differences between each release surprised even her.

Reserve Club Chandon Cuvee trio - so similar, and yet so different
When we met with Ellen, the first thing we couldn’t help but notice was her grin—it stretched from ear to ear. She’d just come from a tasting where a small group of Prestige Members had a chance to compare each release in the trio.

“It was as if we’d staged it! I didn’t expect the differences to be so striking,” she said, while arranging each of the three releases on a table in front of us, “but when you line all three up and taste them, it’s amazing. The first has fresh fruit, the second starts building the toastiness, and the third—the creaminess is simply off the chart. It’s just so luscious.”

Here's how Ellen compares each release in the trio:

First release (2008): Fruity, vibrant acidity and very refreshing. Aromas include Fuji apple, pear custard and toasted brioche, and light creaminess on the palate transitions to a finish reminiscent of caramel and crème brulée.


Second release (2009): A toastier overall profile, with the first release’s fruitiness having mellowed to more complex, nutty tones. Features a notably full mouth feel and richer impression on the palate.

Third release (2010): The shining star of the group, created in Chandon’s Reserve style. Elegant aroma with hints of buttery cashews, baked apple and white peach cobbler is suffused with over-the-top creaminess throughout.


Dinner for three
Ellen’s great passions include entertaining and finding perfect wine-and-food pairings, so naturally, upon tasting the completed trio, her first thought was, “This could be so much fun for a dinner party! This is a time of year where your cooking gets a little more serious and reminiscent of fall, and, with the trio now available, it just naturally fits to plan an elegant meal around the three cuvées.”

One of the Domaine Chandon Cookbook’s biggest, fans, Ellen immediately went to work mapping out an ideal itinerary for a Reserve Club Chandon Cuvée trio dinner party. “Our new cookbook is not only a great culinary resource, but it’s just so beautifully done. We’ve really incorporated the history of dishes at Chandon over the last 30 years."

Here's what Ellen suggests for a palate-pleasing dinner party menu:

Here’s what Ellen suggests for a palate-pleasing dinner party menu, built entirely around the Reserve Club Chandon Cuvée Trio and Domaine Chandon Cookbook:

1. First course: Pair the first release with our Belgian endive salad with Asian pear, spiced pecans and walnut vinaigrette. The bright pear in the wine will marry perfectly with the salad’s crisp fruit flavors.

2. Second course: For your next offering, tantalize your guests with a rich, creamy crab and corn bisque and sunchoke risotto that will make the second release’s creamier, nuttier notes sing.

3. Third course: Finally, you get to savor the Reserve-style splendor of the third release. Couple it with an entrée of our pork chop with gnocchi, and the silkiness of the pork, paired with the wine’s smooth, buttery cashew notes, will simply delight and amaze your guests.

In Ellen’s estimation, the culinary season is just right to host this Reserve Club Chandon Cuvée-inspired meal, as well. “This time of year, there are so many fresh ingredients becoming available. You can get fresh sunchokes, crab, and corn is sill in season. This meal just kind of fell together."