By Michael Nagrant
You should always cook with good wine, but whoever set that rule probably didn’t expect anyone to deglaze their risotto pan with $400 Champagne like Jean-Baptiste Cristini. Cristini didn’t want me to mention this, probably because you’d think he’s some snooty rich dude. He’s not. He just happens to work for Salon and Delamotte Champagnes, and was lucky to taste some 1988 Salon that hadn’t aged well and got it as a side perk.
Such circumstance is emblematic of Cristini’s life. He’s like a younger version of the guy from Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” beer commercials, a cosmopolitan handsome 28-year-old dude who drinks Grand Cru Champagne like tap water. He hangs out in Paris on weekends with his girlfriend, a veteran chef of Michelin-starred kitchens, throws parties for friends larded with Iberico ham and trophy wines, and works as the globetrotting export director for one of the best bubbly makers in the world.
The luster of Cristini’s employer Salon/Delamotte shines even brighter. Located in the French commune of Le Mesnil sur Oger in the Côte des Blancs, Salon/Delamotte produces some of the world’s most prestigious Champagne. If you haven’t heard of Salon, you’ve likely heard of its cohorts Cristal and upstart cousin Dom Perignon which produce 300,000 and 5 million or so bottles a year respectively. If this trio of sparklers were baseball cards, Salon Champagne, which produces no more than 60,000 bottles in a vintage year, would be its Honus Wagner. Read the rest of this entry »