Thu 31 Dec 2009
Here’s the Big Night before the Big Relaxing Day that inaugurates the Whole New Ball-Game, Year-Wise! Well, as we learn when we’re about three years old, a new year, however pristine it may seem to shine with potential possibilities, does not mean a tabula rasa upon which to write our lives anew. Forget that, Jack! Still, as a culture we are addicted to the idea that this night must be celebrated with wild abandon, not to mention bacchanalian verve. Not us. LL and I stopped going out on New Year’s Eve a decade ago. No drunken parties. No forced conviviality in restaurants. We stay home, watch a movie, have a glass of champagne at midnight. Wake the dogs. Dance around the Yule log. We do not sing “Auld Lang Syne.”
So, now, with wild abandon, I’ll offer three very different sparkling wine recommendations appropriate for whatever sort of celebration you have planned tonight. “Something for every palate, purse and purpose” is my motto. These are all French because, I dunno, just because.
First, if you’re having a party for the entire cast and crew of Mad Men — and you know how they drink — lay in a case or two of the Louis Perdrier Brut, a non-vintage quaffer that features some of the most unlikely grapes to go into a sparkling wine: ugni blanc, chenin blanc, folle blanche and menu pineau, the latter an obscure grape dying out in the Loire Valley. I was surprised at how tasty this little number is. You’ll find hints of baked apple, lemon and limestone, a crisp dry nature and an adequate supply of bubbles. Good+ and a Bargain at about $9.
Imported by Cannon Wines, San Francisco
Moving up several scales, try another and more complex crowd-pleaser, the Jean-Baptiste Adam Cremant d’Alsace Brut. Made from pinot blanc grapes in the champagne method, this compound of ginger and spice and everything nice neatly balances a chalky, limestone-like character with soft, round peach and pear flavors and with heart-racing acidity and effervescence. A touch of orange zest completes a really charming, airy, thirst-quenching package. Very Good+. About $20.
Imported by Winebow Inc., New York.
On to a serious substantial champagne suitable for small gatherings or a New Year’s Eve dinner party. The Lamiable Brut Grand Cru is made from 80 percent pinot noir grapes and 20 percent chardonnay. The Lamiable family are recoltant-manipulants, “grower-winemakers,” meaning that they make their champagnes from grapes they own and farm. These happen to be from Grand Cru vineyards, the highest level in Champagne. The result here is a pale golden, deeply spicy, vibrant and resonant champagne, citrusy and yeasty, imbued with elements of cinnamon toast and roasted hazelnuts and smoke. The texture is frothy, lusciously creamy but electrified by blade-like acidity and a charge of damp limestone. One feels the confidence and elan of this impressive champagne. Excellent. Prices range from about $50 to $60.
Imported by Robert Kacher Selections, Washington D.C.
And Happy New Year. Really. I mean it.