Don Day’s Wife has been called a lot of names. And, unlike many that I’ve been called, all of hers are printable. She’s sometimes called Sharona, like the woman who’s never gonna stop, never give it up in the song by The Knack. She’s sometimes known as Imelda due to a certain passion for the works of art produced by men with names like Ferragamo, Blahnik and Choo. She’s sometimes called Grammie by her kids, especially if they want her to babysit. But most of all she’s known as The Champagne Lady due, thankfully, not for her affection for the music of Lawrence Welk, but for her affection for a certain beverage.
The name, however, is not exactly accurate. For even though, on almost every day with a “Y” in it, Don Day’s Wife consumes at least one glass of sparkling wine, it is seldom Champagne. Due to Don Day’s inadequate investing skills, the budget just won’t allow it. On most days, Don Day’s Wife must instead settle for bubbles that come from outside the Champagne district of France; in fact, actually from outside the country of France altogether. Don Day’s Wife must consume the bubbles with the other C. The bubbles that average about a quarter of the price. Cava from Espana. Not Champagne from France.
But not on all days. And not since Vino y Comino opened in the new Mercado Centro.
Vino y Comino specializes in two things. Creative vegetarian dishes, especially soups and salads. And interesting wines by the glass, including a world renowned Champagne at a very affordable price. Which was exactly why Don Day’s Wife was at Mercado Centro on Friday night.
Helping to welcome The Champagne Lady at Vino y Comino were Carlos de Ipanema and Clement Wiart, representing one of the oldest and most renowned Champagne houses in the world, a house that has special meaning to me. Because, for many years, it looked down on me as I drank my morning coffee.
In case you have never been married, I will explain Rule Number 19 from the Have A Happy One manual. Never put up a picture of an extraordinarily beautiful woman on the wall of your kitchen. Unless, of course, you’re married to The Champagne Lady. Only then, under the disguise of a poster for Taittinger Champagne that Grace Kelly posed for, can you possibly get away with it.
The Taittinger Brut Reserve was popped and Vino y Comino Chef Julian Garcia put out his first suggested pairing for it, a plate of oozy goozy burrata cheese with grape tomatoes and basil.
Clement Wiart, who is with Ferrer, the winemaker’s distributor in Mexico City, told us a little about Champagne Taittinger.
“The Taittinger estate is one of the three most extensive in the Champagne district. Most large houses purchase most of their fruit from small contract growers rather than owning their own vineyards, Champagne Taittinger is the proprietor of about 752 acres of vines in 34 different vineyards and draws about 50% of its fruit from its own vineyards. It is the company’s major holdings in Chardonnay vineyards, most located in the most prestigious Chardonnay region, that produces the expression of the Taittinger philosophy and style.”
And the Taittinger Brut? How did it compare with other vintage Champagnes? Most Champagnes have a wonderful taste that is reminiscent of the aroma you detect when bread is just about to pop out of the toaster.
“This is different”, said Jorge Alarcon, who’s face you may recognize from San Miguel wine shop Carnevino. “This is fresher. It reminds me of green apples.”
Carlos de Ipanema, who’s based at Taittinger headquarters in Reims, France helped explain the difference.
“Three grapes are commonly used in Champagne, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay” said Carlos. At Taittinger, we use 40% Chardonnay in our Brut Reserve, more than any of the other major houses.
“Our grapes are also grown in the most prestigious part of Champagne…in the Cote de Blancs…where many of the Grand Cru villages are located.
“The third reason why Taittinger is different…or, I like to say, better…is aging. The regulations of the region say only that Champagne must be aged 18 months in the bottle. At Taittinger, we age our wine for a minimum of 36 months in the bottle and, often more like 48 months.”
By now, Chef Julian was putting the final touches on some more small plates, this time with couscous, two types of mushrooms poached in butter and grilled baby cauliflower. Which, of course warranted a second glass of Taittinger.
“Do you see these bubbles?”, said Don Day’s Wife. “That’s the difference between a Cava and Taittinger Champagne. The bubbles are much smaller. Look how they roll up the side of the flute.”
“And that’s good.”, I asked.
“That’s very good”, said Don Day’s Wife.
We had a 7:15 reservation at Hecho en Mexico and I asked for our bill. The price of a glass of Taittinger Brut Reserve? And I should also say a healthy pour of Taittinger Brut Reserve…I’d guess about five ounces. Just 150 pesos.
I can’t remember a single occasion over the last ten years that I’ve paid so little for a good glass of Champagne. And to think I was almost ready to change The Champagne Lady’s nickname to The Cava Lady.
Vino y Comino is located in Mercado Central, Codo 36, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. They are open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, every day but Tuesday.