Must-Try Champagne Selections From Paris

Just in time for the festive season, Sommelier Thierry Hamon of Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, makes Champagne recommendations and shares some secrets of successfully pairing them with fine cuisine.

Nov 23, 2009
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Thierry Hamon, sommelier at Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris
Thierry Hamon, sommelier at Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris
Champagne is the perfect choice for entertaining on festive occasions.
Champagne is the perfect choice for entertaining on festive occasions.
Photography Stockxpert/Jupiterimages

Thierry Hamon has spent years adding to his knowledge of wine and food and how to pair them for a delightful culinary experience. After studying in the seaside resort town of Dinard in Brittany, Hamon began his career as a commis at La Poularde in Montrond-les-Bains, along with Eric Beamard, the current director of Le Cinq at Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, and 2003 Sommelier of the Year for France’s Le Chef magazine. After a sojourn in Oxford, Hamon returned to La Poularde before joining his former colleague at Le Cinq as second sommelier under the accomplished Enrico Bernardo. Now head of a sommellerie team of eight, Hamon enjoys sharing this hard-won knowledge and love of fine vintages with guests at the restaurant. And with Le Cinq’s state-of-the-art 45,000-bottle cellar, he has many options to offer.

We caught up with Hamon in between courses to ask him some of his favourite picks for Champagne and what foods pair best with them.

2002 Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Fleur de Passion
His first selection is a 2002 Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Fleur de Passion. “This dry champagne which came from La Côte des Blancs is a reflection of a unique terroir and a great vintage,” he says. “It is marked by the intensity of the 2002 harvest and the delicate floral notes of the Chardonnay vintage wine.” Produced by Jacques Diebolt and his children—a Champenois viticulturalist family—this rare vintage reflects the family’s ethics, generosity and their sense of sharing. And for a food pairing? “We can accompany this Champagne with fine slices of salmon marinated with coriander, or brioche toasts with duck foie gras, like the one that Madame Diebolt made.”

2000 Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvée Chétillons
“This ‘blanc de blancs’ Champagne, which comes from the prestigious terroir of Mesnil, is in perfect bloom with a lot of honey fragrances and dry fruit notes like almonds,” says Hamon of the 2000 Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvée Chétillons. “This Champagne will be in harmony with great products such as chunk of wild turbot, roasted or sautéed, and accompanied by cepes mushrooms,” he adds. This Grand Cru vineyard also has the distinction of being a family business, run currently by Rodolphe Peters. “It is a nice example of transmission of land, heritage, from a father to his son,” says Hamon. “There, as in this Champagne, reigns harmony, fullness and elegance.”

Champagne Bollinger Rosé
From a vineyard with a long and proud past, Hamon selects his third option: Champagne Bollinger Rosé. A blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier, this non-vintage Champagne from the Aÿ region combines intensity and finesse. “Its unique structure allows it to open up its potential when accompanied by white meat such as roasted farm veal cutlet or Racan pigeon filet cooked in Rossini style,” adds Hamon.


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