On Wednesday 7 December at the Templari Restaurant in Brescia, a special evening was dedicated to Calvisius Caviar and Lanson champagne, worked by the skilful hands of Chef Alessandro Ferrera. Unfortunately, I also fell ill last week and was unable to write this article earlier... I was in bed in a coma for two whole days!

I had already been to the Templari Restaurant in Brescia on the occasion of the evening organised with the Franciacorta Riccafana winery and I had had a very good time, but I think that this time Chef Alessandro Ferrera has made a big step forward. What I liked most about him is his ability to listen to advice, something I really haven't often encountered in those who do his job.

We started off with an aperitif of meat and fish appetisers paired with Lanson's Black Label Champagne, a basic label but of great quality. There were three Maison Lanson labels for tasting: the Black Label, the Gold Label and the Extra Age Brut. Before I tell you about them, let me tell you that I really liked all three, the one that convinced me the least was the Gold Label and the one that excited me was the Extra Age Brut. In general I would say that I would buy both, the Black Label and the Extra Age Brut Champagne Lanson. Of the Gold Label I was less convinced by the perlage, which was too aggressive, and the marked acidity.

Act I: The Tasting

Lanson Champagne - LES CLASSIQUES, Black Label

Of the basic line, it is a blend of three blends: Pinot Noir (50%), Chardonnay (35%) and Pinot Meunier (15%) from almost ten different years. The less prized Pinot Meunier (Pinot du Miller) takes its name from the floury white colour of the underside of its leaves. This grape variety has the characteristic of ripening earlier than the others and is able to round off and soften cuvées, although it is not suitable for ageing. This characteristic makes it perfect for harmonising a great base champagne like this one. The Lanson Black Label develops in the cellar for at least 3 years, including a minimum of 6 months after disgorgement to mature to perfection.

I found it elegant, complex, with honeyed, citrus and mineral notes, more savoury than fresh, crisp and long on the finish. Absolutely perfect for the aperitif... and it is the classic bubble that never tires and of which you finish a bottle without really noticing.

Champagne Lanson - LES MILLÉSIMES, Gold Label

I may be against the tide, but of the three it is the one that has convinced me the least. Let it be clear that it is a very good product, but in my opinion it is the victim of a vintage that was not as exceptional as it should be, which made it a little 'green', despite the fact that it is certainly not very young. It is made from a blend of equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and remains in the Lanson cellars for at least five years. I found it very fresh, quite complex, with notes of candied citrus fruits, nuts, flint, white fruits... quite harmonious, but short on the finish. It doesn't shine like the other two and personally I wouldn't buy it, but I am curious to taste other vintages of this Gold Label because I am really convinced that it is the vintage that determines a less than excellent product in this case and I am confident that other vintages might surprise me because the concept is all there.

Champagne Lanson - LES MULTI-MILLÉSIMES, Extra Age Brut

I really liked this Champagne! I found it very different from the style of the first two, characterised by great freshness, unlike this one which I would perhaps venture to describe as slightly oxidised. Let me be clear, I am talking about a pleasant oxidation that gives it character and makes it a cerebral, meditation bubble. Developed to mark the 250th anniversary of the Maison Lanson, the Extra Age Brut combines the character of three exceptional vintages: 2000, 2002 and 2004. Ripe exotic fruits, candied citron, apricot, honey, hazelnuts, flint... these are just some of the notes that characterise this pulpy and crisp Champagne, with a very fine and creamy perlage and a very long finish that enraptures the senses. A must-try.

At the aperitif counter I found a very nice Sardinian sommelier transplanted to Brescia (but why, dear, why????!!! OK, I know why... but I used to stay in Sardinia 😀 ) whom I had already had the opportunity to meet at the Villa Franciacorta winery on the occasion of the award ceremony for the best AIS sommelier in Lombardy... what a pleasure to see you again! 😉

champagne lanson restaurant templari brescia

Act II: The Dinner

The first note of praise goes to the bread: if the last time I had been to the Templari Restaurant in Brescia I had not found it up to scratch, here Chef Alessandro Ferrera has made a quantum leap. The girella is still buttery, but the butter is nicer and the texture has improved a lot. The breadsticks are also very good, although I would still aim to improve the crispness. The presentation is elegant, although I would match the breadsticks plate to the bread plate.

champagne lanson restaurant templari brescia

Ars Italica Calvisius Oscietra Classic & Ars Italica Calvisius Da Vinci with natural potato cloud, pan brioche and butter curls and fried egg

paired with Lanson Black Label Champagne

champagne lanson restaurant templari brescia

Calvisius Caviar takes its name from its place of origin: Calvisano, a town on the Brescia plain rich in fountains and resurgent water that owes its Latin name to a Roman nobleman who went down in history as a great gourmet: Calvisius. The purest waters are the basis of the excellent ecosystem that guarantees the authenticity and freshness of calvisius caviar, now famous in the gourmet kitchens of the world's best restaurants! This caviar is processed according to the traditional Russian 'Malossol' (meaning low-salt) method, which allows the differences between the different species or types of caviar to be brought out, thus allowing nature itself to express its organoleptic and morphological biodiversity.

To learn more visit this article dedicated to the GourmArte fair in Bergamo!

I really liked this dish, starting with the presentation on the black slate that chromatically set off all the food being tasted. I paired the Da Vinci Caviar with ox-eye yolk, which was a spectacle... and the Oscietra Caviar with croutons and butter (simply perfect!). But then I also tasted the two caviars in their pure form because in my opinion only this type of tasting puts you in a position to really appreciate the product, and I must say that the quality of this Caviar is really very high. The best, however, is the one I have on my hand on the cover (a trick they taught us to get the caviar to the right temperature)... the creaminess of which deserves a taste, possibly accompanied by Champagne Lanson Extra Age Brut. Here, I would have happily finished off 1 kg of this by the spoonful... 😀 By the way, how many calories does caviar contain??? 😀

Calvisius Siberian Classic with beetroot flan, quail egg and creme fraiche

paired with Lanson Black Label Champagne

champagne lanson restaurant templari brescia

Of the whole evening, I found this to be the most successful dish together with the risotto. The flan is nothing more than a flan baked in a bain-marie in a central mould, I for example bake it in the oven by placing the moulds side by side in a larger pan filled with water up to half of the mould. I found this flan very good, savoury to the right point and the quail egg went very well with both the flan and the caviar and creme fraiche. The only thing is that in my opinion the beetroot was not very protagonist of this flan, which could have been tinged with a more scenic colour (although it is normal for it to lose some of its redness when cooked) and had a less eggy flavour (already present raw on top, by the way). The taste of an egg-soaked flan and creme freiche with caviar was really super!

The planned pairing was supposed to be with the Lanson Black Label, but in my opinion we went better with the Lanson Gold Label, less savoury and with rounder notes that enhanced the dish better.

Calvisius Caviar Ingot: Champagne risotto to be whipped to your liking with a sprinkling of caviar

paired with Lanson Golden Label Millesimato 2005

champagne lanson restaurant templari brescia

Until a few years ago, I didn't particularly appreciate risotto... I have always been one for egg pasta or long durum wheat pasta such as scialatiello, linguina, bucatino or a nice thick spaghetto! However, having eaten good risotto has also made me fall in love with this preparation... and lately it happens whether I prepare it at home or go to risotto shops (e.g. excellent tomato risotto from the Costardi Bros *Michelin in Varese)... well, I must say that this risotto was absolutely perfect in terms of appearance, taste and texture! I also loved the idea of serving it with Champagne on top to whip it up!

Personally, of the evening's wines, I would have matched the Champagne Lanson Extra Age Brut because its light oxidation and honeyed notes would have enhanced the creaminess of the risotto's mantecatura ingredients. Moreover, the Calvisius caviar ingot remains more savoury than fresh caviar and this was the least savoury Champagne of all!

Escalloped white sturgeon in Champagne and its reduction with crispy bacon

paired with Champagne Lanson Extra Age Brut Multimillesimato

champagne lanson restaurant templari brescia

Of all of them, this is definitely the dish that is not in my cup of tea... partly because I always prefer raw fish to cooked fish and partly because this cooking technique inhibits the flavours of the raw material. But it is also a dish that suits sturgeon, which is not particularly strong in flavour and is certainly enhanced by cooking it this way. Chef Alessandro Ferrera has nicely escaloped the sturgeon slices and the bacon gave that touch of crunchiness and savouriness that contrasted well with the delicate fish. I loved the Lanson Extra Age Brut but did not agree with its pairing: too complex a wine for too simple a dish, perhaps more suited to the Lanson Gold Label because even the Black Label would have been too aromatic with notes that shifted too much to fruit for this dish.

Champagne Lanson Extra Age Brut would have married beautifully with the previous risotto... or I would recommend it with a Parmigiano Reggiano 72 months... or why not a good Bitto Storico, or rather a Rebel Storico 2008? Alternatively, it is also absolutely perfect this way: him alone, you in good company ?

Show Cooking: Nitrogen ice cream

templari restaurant brescia

I had already tried the nitrogen ice cream from the Templari Restaurant in Brescia, but even though the taste and preparation were the same, the growth in the end result was surprising.

templari restaurant brescia

Already from this picture you can see an uncommon creaminess, but it is on the plate that it was at its best: the pleasing presentation enhanced a truly delicious texture and flavour! Even the macaroons were very present without being cloying!

champagne lanson restaurant templari brescia

What is nitrogen ice cream?

As I have already written, nitrogen ice cream is part of molecular cuisine and is made by adding liquid nitrogen at a temperature of 196° below zero to the raw materials, which freeze instantly. This speed of production means that the structure of the ice cream is much finer and silkier, with micro-crystals up to 700 times smaller than those of a traditional freezing. Another advantage of nitrogen is the enhancement of flavours: if the ingredients are good, nitrogen is able to 'concentrate' the flavours! And then you can make ice cream with anything, from wine to fruit juice! Chef Alessandro Ferrera prepared a traditional cream ice cream with the addition of macaroons and Countreau.

Gelato with nitrogen is nothing new: 10 years ago in Italy, master gelato makers were already experimenting with this type of mantecazione... but to this day it is still rare to see it in restaurant kitchens! This for me is a point in favour of the Templars of Brescia!

Small pastries: cannoncini freshly filled with custard

templari restaurant brescia

I already commented on the exquisite goodness of these freshly filled custard cannoncini last time! I like the idea of using a star tip, very decorative... but I would have preferred a slightly wider tip to fill the cannoncini with cream also at the end like a plunger! But those are details 😉

Roberto and his staff's service was faultless and on time, so thank you all 🙂 And thank you also for taking this photo...

champagne lanson restaurant templari brescia

Once again the table in the parlour was really enjoyable, it's amazing how many beautiful people we meet in the world of food and wine! Could it be that those of us who appreciate good food and wine are perhaps all a bit alike? 😀 Well, it was a real pleasure! I hope our paths will soon converge, perhaps on another excellent evening at the Templari Restaurant in Brescia 😉

Many thanks to all and a hug,



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