A Treasury of Champagne Brings Happiness in Orlando

An importer’s brunch at a French brasserie showcases bubbles in all their glory

A family affair since 1818, the Champagne house of Billecart-Salmon boasts an unconventional blend of pinot meunier and chardonnay. 

Exciting, enthralling, elegant — perhaps no other wine evokes as much emotion or commands as much celebrity status as does Champagne. A shimmering sip of the celebrated Bollinger Rosé steered me into this bewitching world. From the 56 million exuberant bubbles, give or take a few, that explode the moment you pop  the cork; to its mouth-watering acidity; to its lingering brioche/biscuity and nutty nuances, Champagne is a timeless state of happiness in a glass — period.

When Breakthru Beverage, a leading North American distributor of top luxury and premium wine, spirits, and beer brands, decided to showcase its sparkling portfolio over brunch at Orlando’s only true French brasserie, DoveCote, we cleared our calendars.

Our seductive meal began with a basket of assorted freshly baked buttery pastries. This was followed by a single pillow of technically perfect ravioli stuffed with soft, oozing goat cheese, embellished with the prettiest shades of pink salmon tartare and a bright beet froth. If we could only eat one salad from Frenchland, it would have to be DoneCote’s salade lyonnaise — including a perfectly poached egg, fresh frisée, honey truffle vinaigrette, and, for good measure, a crunchy strip of bacon.

According to my Swiss-culinary-school-trained uncle, Chris Jeswani, “The single measure of a great chef lies in the omelette he makes” — and yes, my uncle did pass on his tricks and tips for creating the perfect French omelette. DoveCote’s chef, Clay Miller, passed the test with flying colors with his “fine herb omelet” — delicate layers of softly cooked eggs laced with savory summer herbs and Boursin cheese, served with a lightly dressed green salad. (If it hadn’t been for the discerning eyes of our fellow wine professionals, I would have been moaning in delight.)  

These were the Champagnes (plus one non-Champagne sparkling wine) that accompanied our brunch:

JCB No. 21 Crémant de Bourgogne NCV ($19).
The new line of sparkling wine from Boisset Collections is known by a number. No. 21 is a brut blend of chardonnay and pinot noir that honors company president Jean-Charles Boisset  with the holy grail of wines, burgundy — 21 being the French government's number for the Côte-d'Or department. Fun, lively, and zingy, this sparkler is sure to put you in the mood, especially considering its wallet-friendly price tag.

Charles de Cazanove Brut Champagne NV ($30).
A superb surprise; easygoing, everyday Champagne that packs a punch far above what its price would suggest.

Voirin-Jumel Brut Tradition NV ($38).
Voirin-Jumel is a grower Champagne from the grand cru village of Cramant. As staunch advocates of local chef-driven restaurants, we prefer to drink grower Champagnes — farmer’s fizz, supporting  farmers who work the land. How can you tell if a bottle is a grower Champagne? Check the front label for the legend “RM” — meaning Récoltant Manipulant, which might be paraphrased as “I grow grapes in my vineyard, and I made the Champagne, too.” Equal parts chardonnay and pinot noir, the Brut Tradition delivers great bang for the buck and is at the perfect drinking age — now.

Delamotte Brut NV ($43).
Like its sibling from the hedonistic house of Champagne Salon, Delamotte sources its chardonnay from the grand cru vineyards of the Côte des Blancs, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Avize, and Cramant.  At this price, it’s a no-brainer purchase. Sleek, sophisticated, and seriously good, it strikes the right balance of ripe fruit and charming creamy mousse.

Bollinger Special Cuvée NV ($53).
A wine complete in all its exuberant opulence, Bollinger’s non-vintage (or, as we prefer to think of it, multi-vintage) vino is an exceptional example of a Big House delivering a consistent stellar standard. A pinot-dominated blend, the wine offers assertive aromas of rich baked apple filled with nutty nuances. For pairing — with anything from sushi to aged cheeses or cured ham — Bollinger’s versatility knows no boundaries.

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Billecart–Salmon Rosé NV ($76).
A family affair since 1818, the Champagne house of Billecart-Salmon boasts an unconventional blend of pinot meunier and chardonnay. The wine’s pale salmon hue, enchanting effervescence, and seductive red fruit transports me to vivid images of the graceful Grace Kelly in her pretty pearls. Even if it’s only for a fleeting moment, we love embracing ourselves as royalty.