A Taste of Champagne at Eleven Madison Park

Eleven Madison Park

11 Madison Ave,

New York, NY 10010

Tel: (212) 889-0905

This delicious dinner was a slight departure from the norm at Eleven Madison Park. From time to time the restaurant hosts intimate theme-oriented wine dinners. Executive Chef Daniel Humm prepares a menu designed to pair with the wines of a specific region. Diners bring bottles from their own cellars (with no corkage) to share with fellow guests. The atmosphere is fun and celebrative.

To be sure, the cuisine is less ambitious than the profound level of what is offered in the main dining room, but at $75 per person, Eleven Madison’s wine dinners offer incredible value for the money. Our food was beautifully prepared, and most importantly of all, served the wines exceptionally well. I especially enjoyed the seafood platter and confess I probably had more than my fair share of oysters….they were divine! Humm’s organic chicken roasted with lemon, rosemary and summer truffles was also fantastic. I was fortunate to enjoy a number of great wines that were served at my table, and also had an opportunity to taste wines from a few other tables thanks to the generosity of many of the attendees.

The 1988 Dom Pérignon was an appropriately exuberant wine with which to kick off the evening. This harmonious, mellowed Champagne offered a compelling array of typical mature DP aromas and flavors supported by vibrant minerality. Vilmart’s 1998 Cuvée Creation was lush and full-bodied in a Chardonnay-dominated expression of fruit. This was an especially beautiful bottle of the 1998 Cuvée Creation. Jérôme Prévost’s 2006 Les Beguines was absolutely beautiful. A bold, rich wine, it seemed to have put on quite a bit of weight since I had last tasted it, with clean, minerally notes that framed the pure, crystalline finish.

I loved Gaston Chiquet’s 1997 Special Club. The wine was round, perfumed and harmonious. Nothing in particular stood out, but the wine’s overall balance was terrific. Sadly, we suffered through a cooked bottle of Alain Robert’s 1979 Reserve Le Mesnil that was clearly the result of poor storage at some point in its life. What a shame. Deutz’s multi-vintage Anniversary Cuvée (vintages 1979/1981/1982) is a bit of a historical curiosity released in 1988 to commemorate the estate’s 150th Anniversary. It was a beautiful, perfumed Champagne with gorgeous length and a silky, finessed finish. Roederer’s 1996 Cristal was awesome. A sweeping, dramatic Champagne, it revealed an expressive core of exuberant fruit that came to life in the glass with marvelous clarity and precision. It was magnificent. The 1999 Gosset Grand Millésime, tasted from magnum, was spectacular, and far more interesting than the same wine from bottle. Smoke, ash, graphite and toasted oak emerged from this fat, full-bodied Champagne. It was superb.

The next flight of Champagnes appeared just as the organic chicken was being served, and the pairings could not have been more divine. I loved Selosse’s NV V.O. (Version Originale), disgorged October 2006, for its lush, creamy fruit and expansive personality. Despite the wine’s richness, it preserved a surprising amount of minerality that complemented its honeyed finish. In a word: sublime. Selosse’s NV Substance (disgorged November 20, 2007), a solera-style Champagne composed of vintages dating back to 1987, was even better. This profound, enveloping Champagne flowed onto the palate with intricate waves of fruit. It was a meditative, contemplative wine of the very highest level. Larmandier-Bernier’s NV Rosé de Saignée lived up to the glowing praise I bestowed upon it a year ago. A prodigious, spellbinding wine, it unfolded to reveal endless layers of intensely perfumed fruit wrapped around a long, powerful frame. Imagine a first-class Chambolle with bubbles and you have some idea of what this unique Champagne offers. Though not for the uninitiated, this is first-class juice and absolutely required drinking for anyone who seeks to discover the level of ambition of Champagne’s most fiercely driven, artisan growers. Krug’s 1995 Vintage was a bit of a shock after these big, rich wines, as it was a decidedly focused, sinewy Champagne built on a linear core of fruit. Still, I loved it and am convinced it is a wine with significant upside. Drappier’s 1999 Grand Sendrée was also quite pretty, especially in its vibrant, long finish.

Once again, Champagne proved that it can be so much more than just a simple celebratory drink or aperitif, and that it is one of the world’s most versatile wines at the dinner table.


Nova Scotia Lobster; Chilled Bisque with Summer Corn

Fruits de Mer; Beau Soleil Oysters, Smoked Sturgeon, Smoked Salmon and Peekytoe Crab

Atlantic Salmon; Slow Poached with Horseradish, Cucumber, Dill and Champagne

Organic Chicken Roasted with Lemon, Rosemary and Summer Truffles

Greenmarket Strawberry Shortcake with Vanilla Mousseline and Champagne Meringue



Dom Pérignon



Vilmart Cuvée Creation



La Closerie (Jérôme Prévost) Les Beguines (2006)



Gaston Chiquet Special Club



Alain Robert Reserve Le Mesnil



Deutz Anniversary Cuvée



Roederer Cristal



Gosset Grand Millésime (magnum)



Selosse V.O. (Version Originale)



Selosse Substance



Larmandier-Bernier Rosé de Saignée



Krug Vintage



Drappier Grand Sendrée


 --Antonio Galloni