Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chateau Bligny....a Champagne Shangri-la

The two lane country road wound through wooded forests and verdant fields......then just beyond a hilltop, down into a gully and around a corner our destination emerged, a grand castle on a hill set amongst a bevy of brilliant emerald vineyards sloping down onto the manicured grounds of Chateau Bligny. The Devil Dog is a fan of opulence and splendor and a lover of fine champagne. At Chateau Bligny we have found all of this and more. There are only two champagne houses which are allowed to use the term Chateau and Chateau Bligny is one of them. A beautifully restored 15th century castle on hundreds of rolling acres, it also makes a range of 6 different champagnes, all from grapes grown on the premises.

We are here for a movable feast, a multi-course meal with each course served in a different part of the castle,with a different champagne to accompany each course. Chateau Bligny resembles nothing less than a fairy tale castle, set on vast rolling lawns, and as a private home that is available for events and tours, its is impeccably restored. We begin in the upstairs reception room (past the suit of 14th century armor) with several bottles of 100% Chardonnay Champagne and a series of appetizers, before touring the bedroom suites overlooking the manicured lawns and the surrounding hillsides filled with vineyards.
We then move downstairs into the family room for the first main courses of salad and smoked salmon and two different champagnes, a 70% pinot noir/30% chardonnay blend, and a 100% pinot noir. It is the blending of the different champagne grapes that distinguishes each variety, as well as the sugar levels, with blanc de blanc being the driest. We take in the magnificent stained glass window with depictions of the 15th century owners of the castle before moving into the formal dining room for the next two courses. The meal is amazing, especially served with a 50% pinot/50% chardonnay blend champagne, a special 100% pinot non carbonated wine called Bouzy Rouge, and then, with desert, an amazing Bligny Rose champagne.

After the meal we walk the grounds, surrounded by epic splendor, before going into the ballroom downstairs, which doubles asa disco and reception area for weddings for a final round of champagne and a performance by an antique calliopy. The hours have passed all too swiftly, the sky is a raging blue, the universe is in perfect order as we stroll the front lawn gazing back at the brilliant setting, Chateau Bligny standing out in the afternoon sun like an apparition. Then we climb into the car and depart, wistful and amazed, a Devil Dog full of fine wine, great food, and memories of a castle on a hill I will not soon forget.....

One note...finding Chateau Bligny champagne outside of France would be a herculean effort, I am sure,....but well worth the struggle. This is what we live for...impecable settings, sumptuous meals,...a boutique but steller winery producing astonishing product which is hard to find, beautiful to indulge...and memorable for its rarity,clarity, and finesse.

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