Interview with Jérôme Banctel,
Chef at Le Gabriel** restaurant in Paris
How do you interpret the world of Champagne?
For me, a meal cannot begin without Champagne. It’s the best way to prime the palate. Champagne has this lightness, this freshness that gives you an appetite… I discovered Philipponnat Champagne when I came to Paris in 1996. The world of Champagne is vast, but the best producers can be found in the best locales… When I was just starting out at Le Crillon, one of their cuvées was on the menu. We opened La Réserve Paris Hotel & Spa eight years ago, and we created a number of partnerships with the Philipponnat collection, to serve with meals or by the glass. I also had the opportunity to host Charles, and we got along well, so it’s also the story of a friendship.
In your opinion, what sets Maison Philipponnat apart?
Having 500 years of history and still being run by the same family is not very common. The other thing that strikes me is the perfectionism, the attention to detail. You won’t find Philipponnat just anywhere: every place that offers the brand is carefully selected. For us, we are very fortunate to have cuvées like these on our menu, as it also adds value to our institution! Finally, there is the continuity of style, with all the work that goes into bringing forth the typicity of a terroir, particularly for the Clos des Goisses. I remember the very centred, very straight, very brut 2008 vintage… It’s a cuvée that I also purchase for my own personal consumption.
You prepared the grand banquet in celebration of the family’s five hundred years in Champagne. How did you decide to pair the menu offerings with Philipponnat Champagnes for this occasion?
We worked together, Charles Philipponnat and I, to match the dishes as precisely as possible to the cuvées that had been selected especially for the occasion. Philipponnat Champagnes offer a great deal of complexity and incredible possibilities for pairings. The Grand Blanc 2012 is an ideal companion for appetisers, so we paired it with my signature dish, fresh tomato with celery, allspice, olive jus, basil, celery jus and yuzu kosho. The 2012 vintage of the 1522 Rosé enhanced the grilled pastrami-style Spanish bluefin tuna with satay spices, peppers, and lemon gel. We chose to pair the 2002 L.V. 1522 with a Cour d’Armoise chicken with buttermilk and champignon crème tartlet. The 2012 Clos des Goisses, for its part, complemented the regional cheeses: Maroilles, Langres and Epoisses. Finally, for the dessert – white peach and almond milk, fresh verbena, and arlette – we chose the 2009 vintage of the Sublime Réserve cuvée, a perfectly suited dry Champagne.