January 2011

That black bottle of Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava represents one of the most familiar sparkling wines in the world. It’s tasty, simple, accessible and cheap. I have no problem with that. But the company delivers more character and quality in its Elyssian Gran Cuvée Brut, which is made not only with two traditional indigenous grapes — macabeo (30%) and parellada (20%) — but with 40 percent chardonnay and 10 percent pinot noir. The chardonnay and pinot noir, used in sparkling wine the world over, including Champagne, lend Elyssian Gran Cuvée Brut a touch of elegance and presence often missing from other examples of Cava.

The color is pale, pale gold; bubbles are active, persistent and tiny, though a little fatter at the outside. Fetching aromas of hay, salt-marsh, ginger, cloves and almonds combine for an engagingly fresh, clean bouquet that takes on a hint of something exotic, slightly honeyed or spiced nectarine or mango. In the mouth, this is very dry, very crisp, teeming with notes of roasted lemon and peach, limestone and oyster shell, all devolving to a spicy, stony finish. Heaps of personality. Very Good+. About $18, a Great Value.

Imported by Freixenet USA, Sonoma Cal.

My Readers … I want to steal a moment from the calm of New Year’s Day — blackeyed peas, hogjowl and turnip greens simmering on the stove; more Champagne chillin’ in the fridge — to thank you for your attention, your concern, your regard during 2010. In December, a month that concluded just 12 hours ago, this blog received 61,351 visits, the highest monthly figure since the thing was launched four years ago. And here’s what’s thrilling: For 2010, the total number of visits received by biggerthanyourhead.net was — ta-dah! — 516,015. That’s right, a shade more than half a million! In comparison, the total visits for 2009 was 383,511. Wow, that’s quite an increase. Naturally, I would like for those figures to climb exponentially for 2011, so do your part, come back and read my reviews, recommendations and commentaries, and click on those advertisements. I need the dough.

Happy New Year!

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