No daily editions this week
Calling all Placomusophiles
Call them "placomusephiles" (or "plaquomusophiles" or "plaquemusephiles" - the hobby remains obscure enough that the name has apparently not yet standardized), they take the name from the object of their acquisitive affections: They save and display plaques de muselet, the dome-shaped, decorative metal circles that protect the tops of Champagne bottles.
If you think this sounds a lot like collecting pennies or buttons or other small objects that all look alike, you may not have been paying close attention the last time you uncorked a bottle of bubbly.
Take a closer look next time: After you peel off the foil capsule and untwist the protective wire cage (sometimes called "muselage" after a dog's muzzle, but that's another story), check the metal cap that fits closely over the top of the cork. This is the "plaque de muselet." Enameled and shiny, it is often brightly colored; many carry the wine producer's trademark or logo.
They're a relatively modern innovation, according to host John Holland of ChampagneMagic.com, whose comprehensive Website covers all things Champagne and is one of the few English-language sources of placomusophilia on the Internet. Early Champagne bottles were stoppered with wood and sealing wax. Corks tied down with string persisted well into the 1800s before a Frenchman named Adolphe Jacquesson patented the wire cage and metal capsule in 1844, and it was only in the early 20th century that Champagne makers started putting slogans and trademarks on the small metal disk, turning a functional item into a potential collectible.
"Today, with technological innovations in printing and stamping, some plaques de muselet really are small works of art," Holland says. Many collectors build neat wooden display cases to display plaques by the dozens, often categorized by subject matter (portraits, coats of arms, slogans) or color. Some enthusiasts haunt tastings and bombard producers with letters requesting free, unused plaques; others like to display only the plaques from bottles that the collector has personally enjoyed.
Holland's Plaquemusephilia page is on his site at http://www.champagnemagic.com/plaquemusephilia.htm. Here's a collection of other enthusiast sites of note; they're all in French, but the pictures speak a thousand words in any language:
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Another artisanal Champagne
As promised two weeks ago, here's another in a series of artisanal Champagnes of uncommon quality to take us up to the holidays. (And for those who resist wines in the $30-plus range even for special occasions, stay tuned; next week we'll feature a lower-cost bargain.) A pale but distinctly gold color suggests the presence of Pinot Noir in the blend, and persistent streams of pinpoint bubbles swirl in the glass. Ripe and full aromas bear rich, almost opulent fruit, honey-dipped apples and a delicate scent of milk chocolate - a sampler box of candies. Full-bodied and dry, a pleasantly prickly mouthfeel precedes flavors consistent with the nose. Chocolate and crisp apples linger in a long finish. Don't forget to save the plaque! U.S. importer: Vintner Select in Cincinnati and other regional importers. (Oct. 28, 2001)
FOOD MATCH: It makes a surprisingly good partner with a meatless but flavorful vegetarian risotto with celery, red onions and radicchio.
November Online Wine Auction
We're baaaack ... over 1,000 lots are available for your bidding pleasure during the first 12 days of November, as Acker Merrall kicks into Holiday gear and gets ready for two live auctions on two coasts in the next two months! Go straight to the action for our online auction at http://www.ackerwines.com/onlineauctions. Please note that all new lots begin with lot 2941.
By the way, Saturday (Nov. 10) is our first live auction in Los Angeles, and it is looking like a spectacular weekend! Our pre-auction tasting is already sold-out, but there is still room left at our BYOB dinner on Saturday night, although not much.
We are still accepting wines for our Dec. 15 New York live auction, with a deadline of Nov. 15...ish. Get us those lists ASAP. We can receive wines for this sale on both coasts.
We wish every one a safe, happy, and healthy Fall season, with lots of holiday cheer and many reasons to deplete those cellars!
Beaujolais for November
For more information about Wine Tasting 101 and this month's feature, click to http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/wt101.shtml.
A year of wine and laughter
Buy one for your wine cellar and another for your office ... and they make great gifts! Offer them in your wine store, your catalog, or your wine club (contact us by E-mail for information about wholesale prices for re-selling).
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the Rhone and Provence
Lauriann Greene and Jean-Pierre Sollin, sommeliers-conseil who live in France, will join me to present this tour, which will feature a week of in-depth exploration of the wines of these two beautiful regions.
The tour is limited to 16 participants, so reservations will remain open only until these places are filled. For more information, click to the details at http://www.wineloverspage.com/tour.
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Vol. 3, No. 42, Monday, Nov. 5, 2001