The Gremillet family has been growing grapes in Champagne since the middle of the 18th Century, only deciding to make their own Champagne starting in 1979, a decision we should all be happy about. The Gremillet Blanc de Noirs, 100 percent pinot noir, is a blend of four or five vintages, including 20 percent reserve wines, that is, older wines held back to lend maturity and house character to a product; it aged 30 months in the bottle on the lees. The color is very pale straw-gold, animated by a fount of tiny bubbles. This one is all smoke, steel and limestone, with notes of acacia and heather, spiced pear and fresh-baked biscuits; lip-smacking acidity cleaves a texture deftly balanced among succulence, tautness and crisp vitality. Spare stone-fruit flavors that contain a bell-tone of red currant are strung on a line of dry chalk and flint minerality, while the finish rounds with a snap of bracing salinity. 12.5 percent alcohol. A charming, elegantly proportioned and thoroughly enjoyable Champagne. Excellent. About $37, representing Great Value.

Esprit du Vin, Syosset, N.Y. A sample for review.

It’s New Year’s Eve, the last day of the year, celebrated in Scotland as Hogmanay. Born on this day were French explorer Jacques Cartier (1491), Bonnie Prince Charles, pretender to the throne (1720), artist Henri Matisse (1879), songwriter and composer Jule Styne (1905), folksinger Odetta, whom I interviewed back in the early 1990s, and boy she had a voice on the telephone that would curl your toes (1930), Ben Kingsley and John Denver (1943), and Donna “Love to Love You Baby” Summer (1948).

Be careful out there tonight. Be safe. Don’t drink and drive. A different year starts tomorrow, and we’ll all be new, better people, n’est-ce pas?
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