Sipping champagne paired with José Andrés’ tapas at The Bazaar in the SLS Hotel is a great way to start a weekend. Four varieties of Champagne Jacquart, from the Champagne region of France, were poured, and paired with tapas created by celebrity chef, Andrés, named “Outstanding Chef” in 2011 by the James Beard Foundation. Andrés owns restaurants in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas and Washington D.C., and South Beach in Miami. The interior of his Beverly Hills restaurant is a mix of California meets Las Vegas, with an indoor piazza designed by Philippe Starck. Pierre-Samuel Reyne, the sales director for Jacquart, said in 1964, 30 wineries from the Champagne region pooled their expertise in wine making, vineyards and resources to create Jacquart Champagne. Fifty years later, Jacquart is one of the leading internationally-known champagnes. “Jacquart is very popular over in Europe and is now being introduced to the American market,” Reyne said. We started with flutes of Jacquart Brut Mosaique, made with a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, providing flavors of pear with a hint of orange peel. A tray of American sturgeon caviar cones was paired with the full brut champagne, offering a pleasing fruity finish. A caprese-style salad was also delivered with sweet cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls on verdant pesto. A board of jamón serrano layered with slices of dry cured ham and lightly toasted bread topped with a delicious tomato jam was served. The acidity of the champagne enhanced the spiced flavors. Flutes of rosé mosaique cuvée with an intense pink hue were poured. Reyne said rosé cuvée is made by either leaving the skin of the grape intact, or adding red wine. The Jacquart rosé is made with pinot noir grapes to create balanced champagne.
We enjoyed green apple and fennel with manchego cheese and chopped walnuts with the rosé cuvée, which offered an elegant finish of peach and apricot. It is an excellent champagne to sip during an afternoon tea at the SLS, or with Andrés’ crispy chicken croquettes. We also sipped Jacquart’s Blanc de Blancs with Andrés’ Japanese tacos made with grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi and chicharron. We also enjoyed succulent seared scallops with distinctively smooth romesco sauce. It was a spectacular pairing. The Blanc de Blancs is made with 100 percent chardonnay grapes from Cote des Blancs. The golden color has a nose of cherry blossoms, vanilla and white pepper. It also complemented Andrés’ smoked yellowtail with crispy rice. “Only 150 cases have been sold in the United States, so it is quite a treat to be enjoying this bubbly,” Reyne said. The Jacquart alpha cuvée is the crown jewel of the company. It was made in 2005 from grapes with low acidity that give it a velvety quality. It’s aged for seven years to allow for lovely coloring with notes of honeysuckle and lime. We enjoyed the alpha cuvée with Andrés’ eggplant dipped in buttermilk tempura and topped with honey air. We also ordered a plate of the chef’s tender loup de mer with celery root puree and sea beans, and divine sautéed shrimp with garlic and guindilla pepper. It’s hard to decide which desserts to order, with options like chocolate bonbons, speculoos and praline milk chocolate rocher on the menu. Cookies include alfajore, chocolate chip, vanilla crescent, chocolate mint shortbread and pecan pie varieties. The pastry chef also makes walnut brownies and milk chocolate mousse cake, along with chestnut and chocolate cream puffs. Chocolate-covered pop rocks are also available, as are vanilla, lemon poppyseed, chocolate and red velvet cupcakes. Dinner is served from 6 to 10 p.m., Monday through Wednesday; 6 to 11 p.m., Thursday and Friday; 5:30 to 11 p.m., Saturday, and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday. $$$$ 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., (310)246-5555. This article was published in the March 5, 2014 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.