Sat 5 Jan 2008
Now we come to the end of our champagne and sparkling wine celebration of The Twelve Days of Christmas. In Merry Old England, at least, Twelfth Night was a night of bonfires and wassailing. In fact, according to the Julian Calendar, which was used in England until 1752 (though abandoned by the rest of Europe in 1582), January 5 was the Old Christmas Day. In any case, from Roman times, this was a day of revels, and appropriately, Shakespeare’s pay Twelfth Night, or What You Will, one of his most engaging and romantic comedies of misadventure, mistaken identity and crossed love, was written to be performed during Twelfth Night festivities.
Our concern, however, is with the effervescence providing by champagne and sparkling wine, and for this, our final post in this series, I’m going to provide six choices of bubbly products (in order of ascending price) for your own festivities (this eve or any time), so, with no further ado — and much ado about something — here ’tis, though with briefer descriptions than previous entries
*Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2004, California. The B de B is always Schramsberg’s most delightful, lilting sparkling wine. For 2004, this 100 percent chardonnay sparkler is notably fresh, clean and attractive; it offers notes of green apple, orange zest and roasted lemon with touches of fresh biscuits, toast and almond skin. It’s full-bodied and lush but energized by crisp acid and limestone elements. Great as an aperitif and with light appetizers. Excellent. About $35.
*Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut. Wow, this is great! Made from 100% chardonnay grapes, the Gimmonet B de B Brut is unusually ripe and fleshy, spicy, macerated, bursting with pear and lemon, almond blossom and acacia flower; it’s incredibly fresh and clean and crisp, scintillating with acid and minerals. Tremendously appealing. Excellent. About $45 to $55. A Terry Theise Estate Selection for Michael Skurnick Wines, Syosset, N.Y.
*Gosset Grande Reserve Brut. Made from 54 percent red grapes (pinot noir and pinot meunier) and 46 percent chardonnay, all from Grand and Premier Cru vineyards, Gosset’s Grande Reserve is an elegant and luscious blond beauty, subtle yet zesty, tremendously appealing and impeccably balanced among mandarin orange and Meyer lemon flavors; toasty, yeasty elements; limestone qualities; and crystalline acid. Excellent. About $63. Palm Bay Imports, Boca Raton, Florida.
*Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvée Rosé Brut. This rose is a blend of 85 percent pinot noir and 15 percent chardonnay. The style here balances touches of macerated dried red fruit with tremendous energy, power and weight. The champagne is very dry and crisp, full-bodied, quite toasty and yeasty, packed with dried spice and roasted hazelnuts and limestone. A great effort. Excellent. About $75. Martin Scott Wines, Lake Success, N.Y.
*Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut. All pinot noir, all verve and steel and flaring bubbles in a pale gold color with a ruddy sheen that LL called “cold fireworks.” This is quite dry and austere but rounded out with a trace — I mean a trace — of macerated peach and strawberry and spiced almonds. Mainly, this is about elegance and hauteur and star-power. Excellent. About $80. Laurent-Perrier US, Sausalito, Ca.
*Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Brut. “This is almost like food,” said LL, and indeed Laurent-Perrier’s Grand Siècle Brut, made from half and half chardonnay and pinot noir from Grand Cru vineyards, is amazingly deep and complex and substantial; no delightful aperitif sparkler, this is a champagne that demands attention and really needs to be consumed with dinner, I mean macaroni and cheese, veal Prince Orloff, lobster thermidor, quenelles of pike, old-fashioned decadent fare. Wheatmeal, almond and apple skin, cinnamon toast, roasted lemon, monumental amounts of toasty bread and limestone, but with a delicate tracery of jasmine and candied lime: All of these qualities add up to a package of wonderful elegance and power. Exceptional. About $110. Laurent-Perrier US, Sausalito, Ca.
Image credit for the costume design of Feste the clown from Twelfth Night: ocw.mit.edu.