This menu almost cries out that it is a faux brunch, demanding a fine Champagne. The sausage needs a pairing with both body and acidity to slice through its hefty fat content. Look no farther than the chalky slopes of the Côte de Blancs, home to the finest chardonnay vineyards in Champagne. A blanc de blancs uses only chardonnay, which will lend flavors of apple and pear that become more golden with bottle age, as well as a firm backbone of acidity and a delightful minerality from all that chalk. Because the maple sausage has a bit of sweetness to it, the Champagne will require a hint of the same. A brut should have just the right amount from its dosage, but the perception may instead be of a rich mouthfeel and biscuit notes that lean more towards brioche, which sounds like the perfect brunch accompaniment to a foil pouch of lukewarm sausage.
A heavy red would overpower the sausage, but the concentrated fruits and moderate tannins of lagrein from Südtirol (Alto Adige) in northern Italy provide flavors that will be additive to the dish with smothering it. It is a wine that lends itself to barrel aging to tame a bit of astringency on the finish, but beware of the overuse of new oak that will not permit the fruit to shine through. As mentioned above, the fat in the sausage needs a wine with acidity to balance it, and lagrein delivers. You may find hints of smoke and a bit of minerality, but ripe fruits are always at the core.
Complementary Pairing: Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France
Try: Veuve Fourny et Fils Millésimé Brut Blanc de Blancs Vertus Premier Cru
[www.champagne-veuve-fourny.com] This maison is technically a négociant-manipulant and not a “grower Champagne,” but only in the sense that some of their fruit is purchased. This is mostly a consequence of the inheritance laws requiring the division of land amongst the heirs of each generation, such that they are primarily buying from family. In fact, they embody their motto of “une Famille, un Clos, un Premier Cru.” Charles-Henry and Emmanuel Fourny currently lead the house, which has vineyard sites in Vertus with underlying chalk and chalky gravel and various south and east expositions, including the Clos Notre-Dame. Initial aging of the base wines for this vintage Champagne takes place in both steel and oak casks, prior to spending at least 5 years on the lees in the bottle before dégorgement.
Contrasting Pairing: Lagrein, Südtirol (Alto Adige), Italy
Try: Kellerei Bozen Lagrein Riserva ‘Taber’
[www.kellereibozen.com] This group of growers anchored in Bozen is actually the union of two previously separate cooperatives, Gries and St. Magdalena. The grapes come from the Taber vineyard in Gries, which is the traditional source for the finest lagrein. This particular selection was originally from the cooperative of St. Magdalena, and is still labeled with that name. With only a minority of the oak barrels being new, this wine offers tremendous concentration with perfect balance.