The Art of Pairing Caviar and Champagne
This husband-wife team shares a passion for caviar and bubbles
Michael Kline and Alexandra Du Cane—a married couple from Salisbury—are on a mission to redefine our approach to one of life’s greatest luxuries. “Caviar has an addictive quality, like falling in love,” said Alexandra, as we settled in for a tasting of Champagne and caviar.
Kline and Du Cane own Pointy Snout Caviar, a new company that sells directly to consumers. They want to make caviar an everyday pleasure, not just for oligarchs or formal occasions. “You’d treat yourself to a massage. Why shouldn’t you also indulge in caviar?” she asked. “It’s the best brain food—tremendously high in nutritional content.”
The couple first conceived of going into the caviar business while enjoying a vacation at the Peponi Hotel on Lamu Island off the coast of Kenya. Philanthropists they met there inspired them to find a business that would also be good for the planet.
Their approach to caviar has a conservational bent. Wild sturgeon have been severely depleted in the Caspian Sea due to overfishing and poaching. In 2005, the U.S. banned the import of Beluga. The Russians have strict export quotas as, stipulated by CITES, the international governing body that regulates the trade of endangered species. As a result, the demand for farm-raised caviar has markedly increased.
Pointy Snout markets only top-grade, Imperial caviar from white sturgeon (indigenous to the region and not endangered) farmed in California’s Sacramento River. “In blind tests, farm-raised sturgeon has stood up to wild,” explained Michael.
“The final product is a taste of extreme wonderfulness,” Alexandra gushed. “It shouldn’t be salty but instead have intensifying depths of flavor, a creamy texture and yokey nuances.” Pointy Snout is available in Nouveau (fresh, unaged) and Avancé (aged 90-plus days) varieties. The Nouveau has the breezy, briny taste of the ocean. The Avancé is more robust, with a long finish.
Caviar ought to be served right out of the tin (figure on 50 grams a person) with a nonmetallic flat spoon in mother-of-pearl, wood or even plastic. Slide a tiny amount onto the middle of the tongue and then press the caviar against the roof of the mouth. The firm beads should pop, hitting the taste buds in three phases—the attack, mid-palate and finish.
Add bubbly and you have a Bacchanalian event. We began by pairing Krug with Pointy Snout Nouveau. The Krug enveloped the mellow creaminess in the caviar. Next we paired 2002 Dom Perignon with the firmer textured Avancé. The Champagne’s umami flavors were the perfect match for the more intense aged caviar. To wrap up our evening, we sipped a new-to-the-market Blanc de Blancs from Barons de Rothschild. Its Chardonnay notes did well with both types of caviar.
Finding the Perfect Match
The Picnic at the Beach
> Chandon Brut Classic ($22) sparkling wine from California has lovely pear and lime notes and an almond nuttiness that complement the Pointy Snout Caviar Nouveau.
> Nicolas Feuillatte Blue Label Brut ($32) has floral aromas, notes of dried fruits and hazelnuts. Its creaminess is a good accent
for both the Avancé and the Nouveau.
The Special Occasion or Intimate Soiree
> Moet & Chandon Imperial ($40) has been getting high marks from top wine critics for its drier profile and beautifully balanced apple, lemon-lime and ginger flavors,
which are perfect with Pointy Snout Avancé.
> Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label ($45) is known for its aromatics and crispness. The Nouveau works well with the Champagne’s hints of biscuit, apple and peach.
The Ultimate Splurge
> NV Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs ($125) is from 100 percent Chardonnay from the best Côtes des Blanc crus. Its richness can take on the bigger impact of the Avancé.
> Dom Perignon Vintage 2002 ($165) has tremendous balance and pinpoint texture. Its winemaker Richard Geoffroy is a connoisseur of Japan and umami flavor. This cuvée matches impeccably with the Avancé’s pronounced umami notes.
> Krug ($180) is for many the ultimate Champagne, a multi-vintage blend from the best vineyards, with such energy and vibrancy that it redefines bubbly. Because of its strong personality, it works better with the milder Pointy Snout Nouveau.