Sipping Pretty: Bubbly With Jewelry to Match
“People tell their stories with Champagne,” says Laura Lobdell at her jewelry shop in New York City’s West Village. That’s definitely true, and I enjoy hearing hers told to me over a split of Piper-Heidsieck Brut and some Calvados-aged camembert on a cinematically grey, rainy afternoon. Surrounding us in this petite galley space, so small the address shares the same number by only ⅛ of the one next door, are displays of Lobdell’s designs, the majority of which are inspired by elements of Champagne. The signature Champers Ring is designed to look like a bottle of bubbly’s cap and muselet (the wire caging), which come in varying sizes and metals (silver, gold, rose gold, etc.), some of which are set with precious stones (such as Champagne diamonds, natch) to represent bubbles. There are bracelets, rings and earrings to represent the details of an ice bucket with round toggle handles, as well as a bucket and bottle pendant, all of which are copyrighted. My personal favorites are the bottle lockets, just big enough to hide little messages, with optional coupe and/or cork charms (psst! I mean, I really, really liked these. Hint. Hint).
As a mostly retired jewelry designer, I appreciate the artistry of Lobdell’s pieces, and respect the balthazars to open a store in Manhattan. Already a 3D conceptual artist, Lobdell was inspired to learn jewelry making after a trip to India, and wanted to focus on baubles that celebrated every day objects. Her first success was with a series of guitar pick pieces after she was spotted by a fashion magazine wearing them, with others inspired by beer caps and matchsticks. A lonely trip to France brought feelings of ennui, and to cheer herself up, she opened a bottle of Champagne and wore the cap and muselet on her finger. “I couldn’t wait to get back to New York,” Lobdell tells me. She knew she was onto something special.
She opened her shop in 2008, which was, of course, right when the economy tanked. However, the tightknit West Village neighborhood was somehow the right place to be, especially with supportive neighbors who worked together to rally each other’s businesses in those trying times with various fundraisers and special events that brought in people from around the city. This was a time when the public yearned for pleasant distractions and people soon embraced her pieces, that, like Champagne, convey a message of celebrating life, of bringing people together.
2016 has been a dismal year for the city, with many beloved establishments closing and that sense of New York authenticity rapidly dwindling among the vapidity of banks and chain stores, which seem to be the only businesses able to afford the rent hikes. The fact that Lobdell is dedicated to creating her art and selling it within the city limits also adds to the jewelry’s appeal for many of her customers.
And of course, being able to say, “Champers, baby!” with a precious metal cork ring on a regular old rainy Wednesday reminds us all why life is worth celebrating.
Laura Lobdell jewelry
183 ⅛ West 10th Street, New York, NY
Hours are by chance and appointment, and of course, you can order pieces online here.
And to sip with your bling
La Caravelle Champagne Cuvée Niña: I first met Lobdell two days after the presidential election thanks to Blaine Ashley and a spectacular Champagne ladies’ lunch during New York Champagne Week, hosted at Claudette, featuring this wine by Rita Jammet. It had been a rough few days, however, taking part in the convivial atmosphere with this community of fine dames was a good way to rally. This delicious sparkler exuded a friendly, welcoming tone that was both refreshing and long on toasty flavor. It paired well with a variety of foods from hummus to charred octopus!
Domaine Chandon 2007 Yountville Brut Late Disgorged: This American sparkler from Yountville in Napa Valley, CA is just as special as a great Champagne, with a unique method of aging on lees - the wine held in the bottle for eight years. The bottle is then riddled (turned) to catch the yeast in its neck and frozen for final disgorgement to release the yeast. It then gets another six months in bottle before final dosage. For all that time and effort, this creamy, rich-tasting sipper is well worth the $45!
Champagne Collet Blanc de Blancs: There is a very good reason this under-the-radar champers won gold in the 2016 NY International Spirits Competition and the winery won Champagne Winery of the Year - at around $40, it’s simply one of the best bang for buck sparklers out there. It’s aged for a minimum of five years in the winery’s century-old chalk cellar, more than most NV releases. The tart apple and grapefruit flavors are set off with a delicate floral accent and yeasty finish. It’s terrific with seafood, especially sushi!
Frank Family Vineyards 2012 Sparkling Rosé Brut: Produced in the cool climate Carneros region of Napa Valley, the pinot noir and chardonnay grapes that go into this wine have a chance to ripen in much the same way they would in Champagne. This pink charmer is aged on the lees for three years, making the fresh berry flavors taste as though placed on fine pastry. There is also a delicious Blanc de Blancs version of this vintage if one prefers.
Piper-Heidsieck Rare Rosé Millésime 2007: This fine Champagne house only produces this wine in exceptional vintages and there are only a few hundred bottles of it in the world once released. Even winemaker Régis Camus was surprised this odd vintage produced such a spectacular beauty, made from 56% chardonnay and 44% pinot noir grown, most of which was grown in the Montaigne de Reims area. Like the Chandon above, it also spends eight years on the lees before disgorgement, however, nothing can prepare one for the delicate size of these bubbles, the freshness of its perfumed fruit and herbaceousness set off by the on point toastiness and tea-like quality of the finish. Sure, you can cellar this for a few years and open it when something truly remarkable happens in a few years. However, are you really going to finish that novel? Life is worth living, and Champagne such as this is worth drinking. (Note: it’s especially delicious paired with fried chicken.)
And for your glassware
At the ladies' luncheon, I was also turned on to these beautiful Lehmann Opale 21 glasses from Kiyasa. They are sort of a cross between a flute and a coupe - a wider bowl than a flute, but higher edges than a coupe. The shape allows for the perfect nosing situation, letting the bubbles and aromas rise to the surface, and it's quite simply easier to drink from without spilling or the need to tip too far up when the level gets low. A set of 6 is only $90, worth investing in new glassware!