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The 2012 holiday season has arrived and the promise of fun, festivity and plenty of fine wine is dancing through the frosty air. The holidays offer more reason and opportunity than any other time of year to uncork, savor and share our favorite fine wines, the best of the best.
As we wine lovers plan our holiday soirées and celebrations, there’s nothing more enjoyable than hand picking the wines that we will share with our family and friends. It’s time to pull out all the stops (wine stoppers, that is) and indulge in some really great wine. With so many wonderful wines to choose from, where to begin?
Below you will find a guide to holiday wines, from what to pour at your holiday party to the perfect wine gifts to give. May your holidays be filled with happiness and lots of the very finest wine!
Holiday Party Wines
When selecting wines to pour at your holiday gatherings, choosing several styles to offer to your guests will convey a sense of abundance and ensure that everyone is happy. By presenting a delightful selection of three different wine styles, you’ll be sure to please the varied palates of your guests. All under $20 per bottle, our recommendations for holiday parties are all excellent values, food-friendly and delightful to drink.
Rosé for the Holidays With its festive range of rosy colors and characteristic red berry flavors, rosé is one our favorite wine styles for the holiday season. Incredibly food friendly, Rosé provides the best of both worlds, combining the brisk acidity and refreshing quality of a white wine with the body and structure of a red wine, making it compatible with a range of dishes. To quote Julia Child, “Rosés can be served with anything.”
NV Domaine Collin Cremant de Limoux Brut Rosé ($18) There is no wine quite as festive as a pale pink, sparkling rosé. Especially one that showcases elegant Champagne-like bubbles, fresh strawberry notes, caramel and floral aromas. Energetic and crisp on the palate, the NV Domaine Collin Cremant de Limoux transitions into a terrific long finish. This sparkler can be enjoyed as a refreshing aperitif and is also an ideal companion for fruit-based desserts. This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Chenin Blanc.
Originally from Champagne, Philippe Collin moved to Limoux in 1980 to establish his own estate. From a long lineage of Champagne-makers, Philippe brought his extensive knowledge of terroir and technical expertise to the region of Limoux in the South of France. Limoux offered Philippe a unique opportunity, to take advantage of both the inexpensive vineyard land and the ideal microclimate for sparkling wine production. Located just several hours inland from the Mediterranean, Limoux is the coolest area in the Languedoc and is among the earliest areas in the world to be known for producing sparkling wine, with records reaching back 1531.
2011 Paul Thomas Sancerre Rosé Chavignol ($19) This very light, salmon-colored rosé offers aromas of stone fruits and apricots with a tart red berry finish. The slight bitterness and crisp acidity make this a very lively and refreshing rosé. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, this is a great pairing for grilled meat or fish, as well as spicy dishes.
Winemaker Raphael Thomas was trained by his father Paul and in 2000, he became the manager of the 6 hectare of the domain and produced his first vintage. Raphael’s dedication to natural winemaking and traditional barrel fermentation results in a finished wine of superior character and style.
Bright Whites Wines You’ll always have a set of party guests that prefers white wine to red. White wines make a wonderful and refreshing aperitif or accompaniment for first courses. The selections below are easy to drink and versatile for pairing with a range of appetizers.
2010 Domaine Paul Chapelle Bourgogne Blanc ($19) A new domaine to us, this is truly a great value! We like to think of this fine and beautifully balanced Bourgogne Blanc as a “Baby Puligny” with its racy minerality and lovely ripe fruit character.
Domaine Paul Chapelle is a very young domaine by Burgundian standards, having only been started in 1976, when Monsieur Chapelle inherited a parcel of vines in the fine premier cru Santenay vineyard of Les Gravières. Over the course of the next several years he pieced together a small estate with vineyard parcels in Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault and Santenay. Prior to starting his own domaine, Monsieur Chapelle had made a name for himself as a consulting enologist at some of the very best estates in all of the Côte de Beaune, including Domaines Ramonet, Michel Lafarge, François Jobard, Paul Pernot, Simon-Bize, Hubert de Montille and Domaine de la Pousse d’Or…The style of the Paul Chapelle wines is quite classic (not surprising, given the quality of his previous clients), with an emphasis on expressing the underlying terroir of the different vineyard bottlings, and avoiding such cellar gimmicks as excessive new oak and heavy battonage. –Polaner Selections
2011 Richter Estate Riesling ($13) This Estate Riesling offers excellent quality and value. Aromas of rich orchard fruits, peach, raspberry and elderberry blossom tantalize the senses. The wine’s subtle sweetness enlivens the taste buds. The minerality, acidity and residual sugar combine harmoniously to create a vibrant, elegant wine with plenty of exciting verve. When in doubt, a dry German Riesling is one of the most versatile wine pairings, working marvelously with a variety of cuisines!
The estate of Max Ferdinand Richter has been owned by the Richter family for more than 300 years. We had the pleasure of meeting proprietor and winemaker Dr. Dirk Richter here at our office for a tasting in early September. Dr. Richter is as energetic and interesting as the zippy Rieslings that he produces. Located in the heart of the Mosel region in Germany, Max Ferdinand Richter has grown to become one of the leading producers of quality Rieslings, with total holdings of 43 acres and an annual production of about 10,500 cases. Richter’s Rieslings are true ambassadors of the rich Mosel landscape.
Warming Reds Wines Nothing warms the soul on a cold winter night like a nice medium to full-bodied red wine. Take the chill off and set the party into full gear with the holiday red wines below.
2009 Paul Jaboulet Cotes du Rhone Parallele 45 Rouge ($10) Your eyes don’t deceive you, this wine is a steal at $10 per bottle, making it ideal for pouring liberally at holiday parties! The 2009 Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone has a merry and bright ruby red color with aromas of fresh black cherry and exotic spices. Lush, well-rounded and medium bodied on the palate, flavors of tart cherry and cracked pepper add to the wines overall luster.
Taking its name from the 45th North parallel, which runs two kilometers from the cellars of Paul Jaboulet, the wine represents the transition to the Southern Rhone blending 50%, Grenache, 40% Cinsault and 10% Syrah from vines averaging 25 years old. The grapes are sourced from vineyards throughout the Rhone Valley that meld to produce a pure and clean expression of this region.
2011 Bradford Mountain Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley ($15) Black raspberry and spice notes mingle with layers of dark fruit and a hint of sweet herb. This Zinfandel is elegant and seasonal with its rich fruit and spice quality. Over the years, Bradford Mountain’s fruit has been purchased by iconic producers such as Turley, Gary Farrell, Quivira, and Alysian. The estate’s current vines are between 8 and 37 years old and while the old-vine fruit is still bottled under the Grist Vineyard label, the younger vines supply fruit for the more approachable Dry Creek Valley appellation wine.
Zinfandel has extensive heritage in America, and an immigration story that reaches far beyond our borders. The lush fruit character and versatility of these wines make them an ideal pairing for your holiday feast along with all the trimmings!
2009 Chateau Lajarre Bordeaux Superieur ($16) Aromas and flavors of dark fruit, plum and cassis dominate with subtle spice notes and a luscious, plush mouth feel. Aged 12 months in oak. 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc & 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
From the outstanding 2009 Bordeaux vintage, the Chateau Lajarre is an incredible value! The consensus among the wine experts is unanimous, the perfect weather conditions, a fine summer followed by dry, cool nights in September could make the 2009 Bordeaux vintage one of the best in decades.
2009 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($38) This classic Napa Valley Cabernet from one of the region’s iconic producers is rich, smooth and an unbeatable value!
“The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is wonderfully supple and fragrant. Silky tannins frame a core of expressive dark red fruit. Floral and spice notes are nicely woven throughout. This textured, gracious Cabernet Sauvignon should continue to age gracefully for another 7-10 years, but it is awfully good right now. The blend includes 7% Merlot and 1.5% Cabernet Franc in 2009. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2019.” – The Wine Advocate, 91 points
Holiday Dinner Wines
If you’re hosting a holiday dinner this year, we recommend turning to Champagne for some of the season’s most delightful pairings. One of the biggest and, dare we say, most tragic misconceptions surrounding Champagne is that it should be reserved solely for special occasions, when in fact, it is one of the most perfect wine pairings for food across the board. This holiday season, let Champagne be the answer to your food pairing quandaries! Keep the bubbles flowing from first course to last and everyone at the table will thank you.
Champagne is generally blended from Chardonnay and two separate clones of Pinot (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier), meaning that it often contains great elements of both white and red wine and offers the best of both worlds. Additionally, Champagne always has invigorating acidity, which is ideal for enticing the taste buds and refreshing the palate. Champagne is not just for sipping pre-dinner or alongside first course dishes…certain powerful, full bodied Champagnes pair exceptionally well with red meats.
All too often, when people think about Champagne, they think of the Grand Marques Houses, i.e. Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Piper Heidsieck, etc. However, Champagne is made up of much more than just these well-known producers, which is why The Wine Cellarage is a keen proponent of Grower Champagne producers and smaller Champagne houses.
NV Champagne Laherte Frères Brut Tradition ($36) Champagne Laherte Frères was founded in 1889 by Jean-Baptiste Laherte and the original vines were predominantly located in the village of Chavost. Today, the fifth generation is continuing the legacy with brothers Christian and Theirry, along with their families, at the helm of operations. The two brothers expanded the Laherte estate by updating the press and the tanks and bringing new techniques into practice, all the while maintaining a deep respect for their vineyards and terroir. The brothers have remained faithful to the estate’s founding philosophy, which is grounded in hard work and natural winemaking.
Representing the vineyard terroirs of the estate, the Champagne Laherte Frères Brut Tradition comes from the Côteaux sud d’Epernay, Vallée de la Marne and Côte des Blancs. The Brut Tradition couples elegance with energy in the delicate assemblage of the three Champagne grape varietals – Pinot Meunier (60%), Chardonnay (30%) and Pinot Noir (10%). Champagne Laherte Frères is popular in Paris and can be found on wine menus and in wine shops throughout Europe. Here in Manhattan, I recommend ordering a bottle of Brut Tradition the next time you dine at Bouley…this Champagne is quite at home alongside haut cuisine.
“The NV Brut Tradition is a beautifully precise, chiseled wine. Citrus, flowers and minerals are woven together in fabric of unusual elegance. This mid-weight, focused Champagne offers terrific energy all the way through to the finessed finish. It is a lovely effort. No disgorgement date provided. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2014.” – Wine Advocate, 90 points
NV Champagne Vazart Coquart Blanc de Blancs Brut Reserve ($52) Full of finesse, the ethereal, airy mousse of this Champagne is sublime. 100% Chardonnay, the Brut Reserve always includes 30 to 40% reserve wines, which imparts a signature style and taste that can be relied on and enjoyed year after year.
The Vazart-Coquart family has been involved in the wine business since 1785. In 1953, Louis Vazart launched the domaine Vazart-Coquart. Renowned winemaker Jacques Vazart took over for his father, and was joined by his son Jean-Pierre in 1995. Exclusively located in Chouilly, the estates vineyard holdings cover 11 hectares (approx. 27 acres). The Vazart family practices “culture raisonnée” (sustainable agriculture).
“Light yellow with a strong mousse. Toasty tangerine, nectarine and pear aromas are brightened by zesty floral and mineral qualities. Precise and fresh but at the same time broad and fleshy, offering taut citrus and orchard fruit flavors and a dusty undercurrent of wet stone and honeysuckle. Impressively balanced and pure, finishing with excellent cling and focus.” - Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, 90 points
NV Champagne Pehu-Simonet Selection Brut ($40) Located in the heart of the Champagne region, Domaine Pehu-Simonet is a small house grounded in tradition. Fourth generation winemaker David Pehu continues the family’s legacy by producing estate-bottled grower champagne made exclusively from Grand Cru vineyards in Verzenay, Verzy, Sillery, Mailly and Mesnil sur Oger. David began making wine for the estate in 1988 and has been solely in charge of the cellar since 1995. David takes meticulous care in each step of his winemaking, from the vineyards, to the cellar all the way through to adorning the finished bottles with their label. The craftsmanship and quality of this Champagne is immediately perceptible. It is a personal favorite and an impeccable choice for dinner parties throughout the holiday season!
“The NV Brut Selection is another beautiful wine that gains in complexity through the blending of fruit from Verzenay, Veryz and Sillery. It is a gorgeous, finessed Champagne graced with exquisite elegance and purity. It presents lovely detail in a refined expression of red berries, flowers, chalk and spices, all of which flow to the cool, minerally finish…” – The Wine Advocate, 92 points
NV Champagne Henri Goutorbe Cuvee Prestige ($45) Henri Goutorbe is a family owned estate located just north of Epernay, in the heart of the small Grand Cru village Ay. The Henri Goutorbe Estate has been passed down through three generations and is now in the hands of Henri’s grandchildren, Elisabeth and Etienne, who are passionately committed to producing fine champagnes in the family tradition.
A flute of Henri Goutorbe’s Cuvée Prestige will transport your dinner party to a far off local with an exotic bouquet that is particularly refreshing at this time of year. Opulent mango, nectarine and floral aromas mingle with notes of sweet yellow plum. Rich and full, vivacious acidity, sound structure and refined elegance come together to offer an exceptional experience on the palate. Enjoy this Champagne with anything from lobster to beef tenderloin.
Holiday Wine Gifts
From Napa Valley Cabernet to Burgundy, The Wine Cellarage offers a selection of highly rated wines from celebrated producers that make perfect gifts for the wine collector on your shopping list. Browse our Holiday Wine Gift Guide for ideas to please the wine lovers in your life. Here’s a peak at our favorite collectible wines to give this holiday season:
2008 Chateau Clos Marsalette ($25) “A gorgeous perfume of kirsch, licorice, spice box and cedar is already evolved, complex and alluring. Medium-bodied with excellent fruit intensity, supple tannins and a round, generous, medium to full-bodied finish, this sleeper of the vintage is a complex, Graves-styled effort meant to be consumed over the next 8-10 years.” –The Wine Advocate, 91 points
Château Clos Marsalette is partially owned by Stephan Neipperg, who is well-known for his Bordeaux wine properties in St. Emilon. This includes Châteaux Canon la Gaffelière, Clos L’Oratoire, and La Mondotte, among others. The 5.46 hectare vineyard, managed by Neipperg, produces Clos Marsalette in the same manner as his more expensive Chateaux.
The Clos Marsalette vineyard is planted in both red and white grapes in a terroir that is mostly gravel, stones and clay. The cepage for the red wine is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. The property practices sustainable viticulture. They do not use any insecticides or herbicides in the vineyards. Clos Marsalette practices whole berry fermentation which takes place in a combination of oak and cement tanks with a 26 day cuvaison. All cellar movement is done by gravity flow. Malolactic fermentation and aging take place in 50% new French oak barrels for 18 months. The average annual production is 1,500 cases.
2009 Domaine Bernard Dugat-Py Charmes Chambertin ($480) “The 2009 Charmes-Chambertin is beautifully balanced and harmonious from start to finish. This regal, aristocratic Charmes fleshes out in all directions, showing off its considerable elegance and finesse. A persistent vein of minerality gives the wine its sense of proportion and energy. Dugat used 50% whole bunches on his Charmes. There is so much pure pleasure in every taste. Anticipated maturity: 2019-2039.” – Wine Advocate, 97 points
2005 Champagne Pierre Peters Brut Cuvée Speciale les Chétillons ($95) Pierre Péters is a small family-run estate located in the center of the Côte des Blancs region, in the Grand Cru village of Le Mesnil sur Oger. The Péters family has been growing Chardonnay and producing Blanc de Blancs Champagne since 1919, releasing their first vintage under the family name in 1944.
Over the years, the family has worked together to maintain their vineyards, growing and selecting only the best grapes and producing superior grower Champagne, dedicated to expressing the terroir and varietal character in each of their wines.
2009 Ramey Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Pedregal Vineyard Oakville Napa Valley ($155) Founded by David and Carla Ramey, Ramey Wine Cellars is located in the charming town of Healdsburg, in the heart of Sonoma County. David Ramey is one of California’s leading winemakers, recognized for contributing innovative techniques to New World winemaking, while staying true to Old World traditions.
“The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Pedregal Vineyard bursts onto the palate with an exciting tapestry of black cherries, plums, camphor, smoke and grilled herbs. It is a tremendously powerful, structured wine endowed with tons of richness. This dark, brooding beauty will require considerable patience, but is a stunner. Wow! The 2009 Pedregal is 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Petit Verdot that spent 24 months in 100% new French oak barrels, every bit of which is masterfully integrated. Drink: 2019-2029.” – Wine Advocate, 95-79 points
Wine Gift Cards and E-Gift Cards Giving the gift of fine wine can be tricky, especially if you are unsure of your gift recipient’s specific wine taste. The Wine Cellarage gift card and e-gift card are convenient options that take the guesswork out of gift giving. We’ll include your personalized message on one of our festive cards and we’ll mail the gift card right to your recipient’s door. Our e-gift cards make great last minute gifts and can be emailed to your recipients anytime, from anywhere!
In addition to complimentary gift consultations, we offer free gift wrapping services and Free Manhattan Delivery for all orders over $100. The Wine Cellarage is pleased to offer new FREE Federal Express Ground shipping to Connecticut, New York and New Jersey on all orders totaling $500 or more. The option to ship via Free Federal Express Ground will appear at checkout for orders over $500 going to all zip codes in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
We are happy to do the heavy lifting so that you can kick back and enjoy the holiday season!
Cheers and Happy Holidays from The Wine Cellarage!
With such a charming name, it may be hard to turn down a chilled flute of Stéphane Coquillette’s NV Carte D’Or Premier Cru Brut $45/btl. Located in Chouilly, a Grand Cru classified village in the Cote des Blancs, Champagne Coquillette is run by fourth generation winemaker Stéphane Coquillette. Stéphane’s grandparents established Champagne Saint-Charmant (see, it’s all about the charm) in 1930, which Stéphane’s father, Christian, then took over in 1950. When it came for Stéphane’s turn, his father sent him off to start his own brand, hence, Champagne Stéphane Coquillette.
To fully appreciate and understand Champagne Coquillette, it is crucial to go back to the roots…literally. The vineyards are planted in limestone soil and chalky rock, stretching tens of meters deep. This type of rock, called “roche mère” is capable of soaking up water in order to supply the vines with adequate hydration during dry spells. This particular soil is key to contributing specific aromas and flavors of the wine.
Coquillette offers several excellent champagnes, but our favorite is the NV Stéphane Coquillette Carte d’Or Premier Cru Brut, a blend of Grand Cru and Premier Cru Pinot Noir (about two thirds) and Chardonnay (one third). This pale yellow bubbly exhibits citrus-rich aromas of lemon and grapefruit, blackberry fruit and hints of smoke and vanilla. Some of the lemon and citrus notes carry on over to the palate which brings a refreshing flavor to the taste buds. Also present are floral notes, which carry through to the energetic and pleasant finish.
The great thing about champagne is that in can be enjoyed in accompaniment with almost anything: various appetizers, desserts, cheeses, or nothing at all! For Coquillette’s Champagne, we have chosen a stellar match: crab cakes topped with a mango salsa. This duo is one you don’t want to miss out on, so check out the simple recipe above and grab yourself a bottle of NV Stéphane Coquillette Carte D’or Premier Cru Brut to charm away any dinner party!
On December 7th 2011, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, the Chef-Owners of renowned Arrows Restaurant and MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine. Mark and Clark demonstrated an unforgettable five-course menu for De Gustibus Cooking School’s Glorious American Cooking class. The delightful menu included their Mushroom Pie and ethereal Cider Poached Salmon. Trailblazers of the farm-to-table movement, their cooking styles showcase the pure, clean flavors of the ingredients that they use. Each dish was delicious and sumptuous without feeling heavy, evidencing the true mastery of these great Chefs.
The featured wines were provided by importer Frederick Wildman & Sons and included NV Champagne Pol Roger Reserve, 2010 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Les Caillottes and 2008 Potel Aviron Morgan Cote du Py.
After the class, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mark and Clark and ask them some questions about their culinary careers and wine preferences. The Wine Cellarage’s exclusive interview with Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier is below…
WC: Based on what I’ve read, you guys are trailblazers of sustainability and the farm-to-table movement. What was the driving philosophy or inspiration behind the Arrows garden that you founded back in 1992?
Mark: The initial reason was necessity because we couldn’t find the produce that was good enough for our restaurant. We had been in California before Maine and had access to nice fresh ingredients. In New England, in the late 80s, it was still really difficult. There were only a few local farmers and they were growing things and doing an okay business, some of them did a great business, but they couldn’t supply our restaurant with quite enough produce. It was unreliable. We felt that we needed to go with the spirit of the people that lived here 100 years ago and just grow what we needed. People used to be self sufficient in many ways and now of course most people aren’t. We thought that with a restaurant like Arrows and five acres of land, we could have an incredible garden and it really worked out.
Clark: For most of the year, the garden sustains almost all of the produce for Arrows, about 90-95%, and about 20-30% of the produce for MC Perkins Cove. It’s a lot. It’s the real deal and not just for show. It is three quarters of an acre and one of the most intensely cultivated pieces of land you’ll ever find.
WC: Can you tell me a little bit about how you ended up opening a restaurant in Maine?
Clark: We were trying to open a restaurant in Carmel, California and it kept falling through. We had a backer, but Carmel is really expensive. One day, Mark’s friends called and asked if we would like to buy this restaurant. Mark said, “Yeah, sure, but we don’t have any money”. They really wanted to give us the option to buy and encouraged us to come check it out. So we loaded up everything we owned, got in the car and drove across the country. We said, “What the hell, we’ve really got nothing to lose.”
Mark: I knew the restaurant because I had lived in that area of Maine before, I frequented the restaurant, but never really thought I would buy it.
WC: Can you tell me about the wine list at Arrows? What is the philosophy behind the wine selections?
Clark: The wine list is split to a large degree between French and Californian wines, with maybe 1/3 devoted to other international regions. We have a particular depth in Bordeaux because Mark and I like Bordeaux and because we can’t keep enough Burgundies on hand, mostly due to demand. The Burgundies fly out the door so fast. We used to have about 700 selections on the list. We paired that down during the recession and made the list leaner and cleaner. We have two cellars with a lot of capacity. We’ve tried to make the list as accessible and interesting as possible. We try to have a lot of interesting, lesser known wineries and eclectic options. We still love Bordeaux, so we keep collecting those and try to have a fair amount in that area.
WC: What was your biggest challenge in getting Arrows established in Ogunquit 23 years ago?
Mark: The location was challenging, because it is very seasonal in Southern Maine. We’re not in a town, but in the countryside and in sort of a middle class resort area and Arrows evolved into a really upscale restaurant.
Clark: And if you will, the prejudice of Maine, that Maine is for lobster rolls, blueberry pies and down-home and it took people time to acclimate to the idea of a “Great Country Restaurant” which is what Arrows became. Rattle people’s cage, and present a really interesting restaurant that’s not in New York or New Orleans or Chicago, not in the city. This was a pretty wild concept and it still is. In the Americas, people still don’t really look to the countryside for their restaurants. I think that was a really interesting challenge. And frankly, at that time Boston was a real backwater with just a couple of good restaurants. There was Jasper’s and Aujourd’hui, and that was about it. That’s why the Zagat guide kept having us as the most highly rated restaurant in New England.
WC: What experience(s) have had the biggest influence over your cooking style?
Mark: Working for Jeremiah Towers and Mark Franz at Stars [in San Francisco], had a strong influence on us. We consider them mentors.
Clark: The story I told during class about living in Beijing and the seasons. And Mark and I travel all the time. That really not only influences our food, but for example, all of the uniforms at Arrows are hand made in Thailand. All of the plates, a lot of the things at the restaurant are made for the restaurant from our travels. The food and the whole sensibility are influenced by our travels. We both really enjoy reading historical things, that’s really influenced us a lot. For years we’ve done dinners that revolve around historical menus: Renaissance, Belle Époque etc.
Mark: Reading, research and travel are all elements that inform our cooking.
Clark: And then of course, the people who work with us have a big influence. Justin Walker has worked with us for 15 years and has had a real impact with ideas like foraging. Mark and I don’t really forage, we’ll go out with him, but he’s the expert.
WC: Do you have a favorite wine region, if so, which is it and why?
Mark: I love Champagne.
Clark: We both love Champagne.
Mark: That would definitely be a favorite. For me, Champagne and then Burgundy. I like Burgundy more than Bordeaux. Clark prefers Bordeaux. I really love Burdundies…Drouhin is a favorite. For Champagne, I loved the Pol Roger earlier.
Clark: We love the Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill, which a friend brought for New Year’s one year, a huge Methuselah sized bottle. We love rosé Champagnes too, especially Billecart-Salmon.
Mark: That’s probably my favorite producer, especially the rosé.
Clark: Gosset is another favorite Champagne producer. I love Bordeaux, old and young, but it really has to do with the food for me. I like lighter wines now, as I get older, which is really odd. I always liked big wines, and now I’m more into light, food-friendly wines.
WC: If you could drink one wine every day, what would it be?
Clark: Yeah, I could drink Champagne every day.
WC: What is your current favorite ingredient to work with?
Mark: That’s a tough one. Probably the mushrooms that we’ve foraged lately.
2012 is here, presenting a fresh new year of wine trends to contemplate. It’s an exciting time for all of us wine lovers as we stand at the edge of an entire year of wine discovery and imbibing ahead. What will be hot in the wine world this year? What will we fill our glasses with in 2012? Here’s a bit of forecasting for 2012 wine trends, along with some divulgence as to the wines we anticipate buying and drinking the most of and why…
1. Grower Champagne is Vogue
Grower Champagne producers and smaller Champagne houses are becoming more and more popular as bubbly lovers everywhere discover the world beyond Dom Perignon, Krug and Cristal. Of course we’ll never turn down a glass of Veuve Clicquot, but there are so many other high quality, great value Champagnes out there. Grower Champagne producers are grape farmers that make their own Champagne, using the grapes that they grew themselves, as opposed to the bigger houses that buy them in. While these small, artisanal producers lack the marketing power of the ubiquitous big brands, their Champagnes are gaining recognition and are the new fashion.
We’re looking forward to discovering and drinking more under-the-radar, high value Champagnes in 2012, and will continue to drink and promote our favorite grower Champagnes. The Wall Street Journal’s recent article, Bubble by Bubble by Lettie Teague, is a great read on the topic of Champagne. Lettie gives a shout out to some of our favorites, including Pol Roger Brut Réserve, Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blancs Brut and Pierre Gimonnet Brut Blanc de Blancs Sans Année. Our New Year’s resolution is to drink more Champagne! Additional recommendations:
NV Pierre Peters Brut Cuvee Reserve ($46) “Fresh, precise lemon and pink grapefruit aromas give way to deeper tangerine and melon with air. Fine-grained and focused citrus flavors stain the palate, gaining richness on the back end while retaining a tight, nervy personality. The citrus notes linger nicely on the long, sappy, mineral-tinged finish.” – 91 pts, International Wine Cellar
NV Champagne Laherte Freres Brut Tradition ($36) – “The NV Brut Tradition is a beautifully precise, chiseled wine. Citrus, flowers and minerals are woven together in fabric of unusual elegance. This mid-weight, focused Champagne offers terrific energy all the way through to the finessed finish. It is a lovely effort…” – 90 pts, Wine Advocate
NV Rene Geoffroy Brut Empreinte ($50) “The NV Brut Empreinte offers up licorice, smoke, mint and dried apricots in an exotic, compelling style. There is wonderful richness and clarity to be found in the glass. The weight and sheer presence of the Pinot Noir is clearly felt on the palate, while cool mineral notes provide a wonderful foil to the wine’s silky texture…” – 92 pts, Wine Advocate
NV Henri Goutorbe Brut Rose ($55) “The NV Brut Rose Grand Cru is a rather wild, unrestrained wine loaded with baking spices, kirsch, game and sweet red cherries. The wine reveals gorgeous inner perfume and tons of class, with a refined, silky close. Striking aromatics linger on the finish.” – 93 pts, Wine Advocate
2. Bonjour 2010 Burgundy
The 2010 vintage for Burgundy is just beginning to enter the market. While many of the reds have not even been bottled yet, the white Burgundies are just starting to arrive. The 2010 vintage was a small one for Burgundy, which means that we can expect the prices to be higher, but these wines will be worth the investment. In general, the 2010 Burgundy vintage has a lighter, more classic style than the lush 2009 vintage, promising many age-worthy wines with great structure and acidity. Since the quantities will be limited, we suggest grabbing them up while you can.
Anxious to get your hands on a refreshing 2010 white Burg now? Our 2010 Domaine Vincent Dauvissat Chablis La Forest is in-stock and ready to ship.
Although we’re looking forward to the arrival of our 2010 Burgundies, we are still head over heals for the 2009 vintage. The 2010 red Burgundies will need some time in the cellar, so while we wait, we’re going to continue to enjoy the approachable, delicious 2009 vintage. Recommendations for great value 2009 Burgundies to drink now:
2009 Maison Louis Jadot Gevrey Chambertin ($52) “The 2009 Gevrey-Chambertin is the best of the village-level wines. It shows tons of Gevrey character in a sweet, perfumed style I find irresistible, with gorgeous length and fine overall balance. The level of quality is admirable, considering there are 200 barrels of this cuvee. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2019.” – 87-88 pts, Wine Advocate
2009 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay Vendanges Selectionnees ($72) “Bright red. Deeper, richer and more complex on the nose than the basic village offering, showing aromas of red fruits, rose petal and spices. Richer and broader on the palate, offering very good presence and depth for village wine. Spreads out nicely on the impressively long finish.” – 89 pts, International Wine Cellar
2009 Domaine Jean Marc et Hugues Pavelot Savigny-les-Beaune ($35) “This is also aromatically quite pretty with ripe red berry and plum aromas liberally laced with ample amounts of Savigny-style earth that continues onto the round, supple and appealing flavors that culminate in a balanced and naturally sweet finish. Lovely and fashioned in Pavelot’s usual understated style.” – 87-90 pts, Burghound
2009 Domaine Thierry et Pascale Matrot Puligny Montrachet Les Chalumeaux ($64) “A more expressive and airier nose that features high-toned notes of white flower, pear, white peach and mineral hints is followed by rich, naturally sweet and racy medium-bodied flavors that possess ample size, weight and sap on the solidly persistent finish. This will drink well almost immediately and I like the underlying sense of tension here.” – 91 pts, Burghound
3. Locavore Trend Extends to Wine
The farm-to-table trend has taken America by storm and that movement extends beyond potatoes and carrots, encompassing wine consumption as well. As Americans become more conscientious when it comes to their carbon footprint, we’re sure to see a rise in local wine sales. We oenophiles on the East Coast are beginning to pay more attention to our local wine regions, especially New York’s Finger Lakes region and the North Fork of Long Island. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Dr Konstantin Frank is an exceptional local producer if you’re living on the East Coast. We’re big fans of the 2010 Dr. Frank Dry Riesling, 2008 Dr. Frank Cabernet Franc and the delightful, sparkling 2006 Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs.
4. Organic and Sustainable Wines
Just as more and more people seek out organic food products, over the past several years, the consumption of organic and sustainable wines has been rising. Many European wine producers have practiced organic, sustainable and biodynamic winemaking for centuries. These practices are publicized more frequently now than ever before because they have become selling points for many modern consumers. Organic wine certification varies from country to country and is a complex issue. Producers that advertise organic and sustainable practices are not necessarily certified organic. As the collective consciousness becomes greener by the day, we’ll see more producers adopting sustainable and organic winegrowing and winemaking techniques. Recommended organic and sustainable producers from our portfolio:
Flora Springs Wine Company, Napa Valley – Practices organic farming.
Tablas Creek Vineyard, Paso Robles – Certified organic.
Talley Vineyards, Arroyo Grande Valley – Practices sustainable farming.
Podere Salicutti, Tuscany – Certified organic & biodynamic.
Adelsheim Vineyards, Willamette Valley, Oregon – Practices sustainable farming.
Evening Land Vineyards, California, Oregon & France – Practices organic farming.
5. Food Friendly, Low Alcohol Wines
Sommeliers have long been advocates for lower alcohol wines (below 14% ABV) because of their great compatibility with food. European wines generally have lower alcohol than their New World counterparts and are specifically made to compliment the cuisine of their native lands, which explains the predominance of European producers on many restaurant wine lists. Ripe, over-extracted, high alcohol wines have the affect of overpowering most foods. New World winemakers (and wine drinkers) are becoming wise to this fact and have begun to abandon the over the top, sometimes out of balance, style that was the longstanding fashion. In the year ahead, look for lower alcohol wines coming out of regions such as Napa and the Willamette Valley. Not only will these low alcohol wines enhance your dining experiences, you won’t be bowled over by the first glass! We’ve already started spotting, and drinking, these food friendly beauties from New World regions:
2009 Breggo Cellars Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley ($27, 13.4% ABV)
2010 The Pinot Project Pinot Noir, California ($14, 13.5% ABV)
2008 Mt. Difficulty Riesling Roaring Meg, Central Otago ($20, 11.5% ABV)
2008 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($42, 13.9% ABV)
The holiday season has arrived! Here in New York City, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was lit last week and holiday festivities are officially underway. The distinct magic and excitement of the season is in the air. Beautiful lights, decorations and joyful music can be enjoyed at every turn and there’s reason for celebration.
For wine lovers everywhere, the holiday season is filled with ample opportunities to uncork and savor our favorite fine wines. As we oenophiles plan our holiday parties and celebrations, there’s nothing more gratifying than choosing the wines that we will share with our family and friends. It’s time to break out the very best, but with so many amazing wines to choose from, where does one begin?
Below you will find a guide to our favorite wines for the holidays, from what to pour at your holiday party to the perfect wine gifts to give. Cheers and Happy Holidays from The Wine Cellarage!
Holiday Party Wines
When choosing what to pour at your holiday soirée, the key is to select wines that offer the attractive combination of quality and value. The options below encompass the various wine styles: Sparkling, Rosé, White and Red. By presenting a fair assortment of three different wine styles to choose from, you’ll have no problem pleasing the varied palates of your guests. Our recommendations for holiday parties are budget friendly wines (no more than $20 per bottle) that we absolutely love to drink.
NV Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry ($16) Aromatic with citrus and floral notes, the palate is bright with generous bubbles, crisp green apple and pear flavors and a clean, refreshing finish. Fun and easy to drink, this is just the wine to serve with passed hors d’oeurves, salads and lighter fare.
One of the Veneto region’s most innovative wineries, The House of Lamberti is located on the shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy. The estate crafts beautiful wines representative of regional classics, revamping the traditional styles to adapt modern consumer needs. The grapes for this delightful Prosecco are sourced from the very best hillside vineyards within the Veneto’s Treviso commune.
2010 Mulderbosch Vineyards Rosé Stellenbosch ($12) Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, this delicious, refreshing rosé showcases complex aromas and flavors of rose petals, lime zest and wild strawberry. A ruby inflected cranberry-color, this deeper hued rosé will look gorgeous and festive on your holiday table.
Located in the Stellenbosch Hills area, Mulderbosch Vineyards is one of South Africa’s top producers with an impressive portfolio including renowned white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, as well as a Shiraz, Rosé and Dessert wine. Mulderbosch’s distinctive labels were inspired by a Cuban cigar band and designed by former cellar master Mike Dobrovic.
2010 Jean-Luc Colombo Cotes du Rhone Les Abeilles Blanc ($12) In addition to his celebrated Syrahs, Jean-Luc Colombo produces outstanding white wines from both the Northern and Southern Rhône. The 2010 Jean-Luc Colombo Côtes du Rhône Les Abeilles Blanc is a blend of regional varietals – Clairette, Grenache, Viognier and Roussanne. Appropriately, “Les Abeilles” translates to “the bees” and the wine offers a rich bouquet redolent of a honeybee’s journey through a field of wild flowers. Pleasantly refreshing, fruity, floral and round, “Les Abeilles” is a perfect crowd-pleasing quaff at a pocket-pleasing price point.
2010 Domaine des Vieux Pruniers Sancerre Blanc ($20) This is a quintessential Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc – clean and pure, showing aromas of citrus fruit and blossoms, zesty lime and orange flavors and brisk minerality that lingers on the palate. This is a great value from the typically higher priced Sancerre appellation.
Domaine des Vieux-Pruniers is located in the village of Bué, a few short miles from Sancerre. Here the grapes grow on incredibly steep, hillside vineyards renowned for their limestone-rich soils. Made from start to finish by Christian Thirot-Fournier and his wife, the family team does everything from growing the grapes to bottling the wine.
2010 The Pinot Project Pinot Noir California ($14) Hand-crafted from the finest California Pinot grapes, The Pinot Project deals out sumptuous black cherry flavors, accentuated with exotic spice notes. This is a classic California Pinot, incredibly friendly and satisfyingly delicious.
The mission of this praiseworthy project, initiated by New York based importer and distributor Michael Skurnik Wines, is to offer quality Pinot Noir at an affordable price. We can’t thank Skurnik enough for this outstanding effort. Launched with the 2009 vintage, the Pinot Project is hugely popular with “in-the-know” wine lovers seeking an excellent every day wine.
2009 Villa Ponciago Fleurie la Reserve ($20) Elegant floral aromas of violets and peonies develop into pronounced notes of ripe cherry and blueberry. Greeting the palate with expressive, fresh flavors, the wine’s structure and balance dance harmoniously, highlighted by dazzling mineral elements and a remarkably long finish. The Fleurie’s brilliant garnet-violet color adds to its appeal.
Villa Ponciago is located in the Fleurie appellation of Beaujolais, which is one of the most renowned of the region’s 10 crus. Made from 100% Gamay, the grapes are grown on slopes in pink granite crystalline rock soils typical of the Fleurie appellation. The stony, well-drained slopes are ideal for growing low-yielding, high quality Gamay.
Holiday Dinner Wines
If you’re hosting a holiday dinner this year, we recommend turning to Italian wines for some of the most perfect pairings. In keeping with the Italian theme, we’ll start with wine pairings for an Italian Christmas Eve tradition, the Feast of the Seven Fishes.
While there are many variations of the Seven Fishes that you may opt to prepare, you can simplify your wine choices by pouring just one or two wines with this lovely dinner. Although it is not an Italian wine, Champagne is always a winner (especially for this special occasion) and an ideal pairing for seafood. The following wines will work wonderfully with your Seven Fishes:
NV Pierre Peters Brut Cuvee Reserve ($46) The NV Pierre Péters Brut Cuvée Reserve is a blend of almost 15 years of harvests, made exclusively from Grand Cru Chardonnay. The wine displays fine foam and a vivacious thread of bubbles. At first, fruit and floral notes mingle on the nose, giving way to fresh bread and hazelnut aromas. Elegant citrus and pear flavors dance on the palate along with qualities of cream and mineral. This Champagne is incredibly smooth and fresh with a magnificently long finish.
2009 Broglia Gavi di Gavi La Meirana Piemonte ($22) This Northern Italian beauty offers citrus and floral notes with bright, cleansing acidity and a lengthy, refreshing finish. The Broglia Gavi makes a fantastic pairing for seafood dishes.
2010 Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio DOC ($27) Livio Felluga is a name synonymous with excellence in northern Italian wine. The renowned estate enjoys a lustrous winemaking legacy that reaches back over five generations. Livio Felluga’s Pinot Grigio shows great elegance and purity with floral notes, stone fruit, citrus, pear and crisp minerality. This Pinot Grigio showcases the Estate’s superior quality standards and careful winemaking technique.
Cooking a roast for your holiday dinner? Whether it be a holiday Beef Brisket or an elegant Standing Rib Roast, Italy is the way to go for spectacular holiday wine pairings. A rich, fragrant and spicy Barolo will make a marvelous companion for your Beef Brisket. We suggest any of the following Barolos from the superlative 2004 vintage for dazzling results:
2004 Alfredo Prunotto Barolo Bussia ($70, Wine Advocate: 92 pts) “This expansive, refined Barolo reveals an attractive array of ripe dark fruit, sweet toasted oak, spices, tar and licorice. The tannins are broad, yet silky and the wine appears to have more than enough plumpness to provide balance. The 2004 is one of the finest recent vintages of this wine…” – Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate
2004 Aldo Conterno Barolo Romirasco, 1.5 Litre ($290, Wine Advocate: 95pts) A large format bottle is a great way to go for holiday dinners. They insure that there’s plenty of wine to go around without opening multiple bottles and the presentation is nothing short of impressive.
“There is no need to taste the 2004 Barolo Romirasco, the nose alone is enough to understand that this is magnificent wine. Aromas of tar, roses, menthol, scorched earth and smoke lead to a core of dark red fruit than unfolds onto the palate with uncommon grace and elegance. As it sits in the glass the wine gradually puts on weight, filling out its considerably structured frame with notable class. The last Romirasco was made in 1993…” – Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate
2004 Aldo Conterno Barolo ($75, Wine Advocate: 91 pts) “Aldo Conterno’s 2004 Barolo is simply beautiful. A medium red, it presents a feminine expression of Nebbiolo in its perfumed, spiced red raspberries and cherries. This is a soft, accessible Barolo ideal for near and mid-term drinking that fully captures the essence of this great vintage…” – Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate
For your Standing Rib Roast, consider a full-bodied Italian or Italian-styled Cabernet Sauvignon. Either of the following will work equally well for a pork roast and are sure to elevate your holiday dinner to spectacular new levels:
2003 Castello di Monsanto Nemo Cabernet Sauvignon ($52, Wine Advocate: 94 pts) “The 2003 Nemo (Cabernet Sauvignon) is a plump, engaging wine loaded with ripe dark fruit. It shows awesome richness and an elegant, refined personality, even if what comes through is more vineyard character than varietal expression. With air and food this wine could be enjoyed today…This is a stunning wine, not to mention one of the top wines from Tuscany in 2003…” – Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate
2008 Antica Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($55, Wine Advocate: 90 pts) Antica is located in Napa Valley and produced by Tuscany’s esteemed Antinori family. (Earlier this fall, I had the pleasure of tasting this stellar Cabernet during a lunch with Alessia Antinori. I was immediately taken with the wine’s elegant style and structure, and couldn’t resist adding the 2008 Antica Cabernet to Wine Cellarage’s portfolio.)
“The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is a European take on Napa fruit with lots of terroir, earth, spice, black cherry, black currant, cedar, licorice and foresty notes. Medium-bodied and elegant with sweet tannins and excellent fruit, it should drink nicely for up to a decade.” – Robert Parker, Wine Advocate
The sky’s the limit when it comes to wine gift options from our expansive portfolio. When faced with so many possibilities, gift-giving can become a bit overwhelming, which is why we’ve chosen five of our favorite wine gifts from each of four top regions: Napa Valley, Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne. Whether you’re shopping for a connoisseur of Napa Valley Cabernet or a Burgundy-lover, our Holiday Wine Gift Guide includes highly rated wines from renowned producers that are sure to delight and impress everyone on your list. Here’s a peek at our favorite wines to give this holiday season:
2008 Blackbird Vineyards Arise Proprietary Red Wine, Oak Knoll, Napa Valley ($54, Wine Advocate: 91pts) Located in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, Blackbird Vineyards bares a strong resemblance to Bordeaux’s Pomerol region. With its cool climate and gravelly soils, Oak Knoll has proven to be an exceptional location for Merlot production. Led by the expertise of winemaker Aaron Pott, one of Napa’s finest, Blackbird Vineyards produces truly special Bordeaux-style red wines.
2009 Domaine Jean Marc et Hugues Pavelot Savigny-les-Beaune la Dominode ($58, Burghound: 92-94 pts) “This is perhaps the ripest wine in the range with a liqueur-like nose of black cherry, earth and underbrush hints that introduce rich, serious and concentrated flavors that possess an abundance of mid-palate extract as it almost completely buffers the otherwise very firm tannic spine, all wrapped in a palate staining finish. This stunning effort should reward at least a dozen years in the cellar and drink well for another decade thereafter.” – Allen Meadows, Burghound
2009 Chateau Petit Val Saint Emilion Grand Cru ($40) A stunning Right Bank Bordeaux from an outstanding recent vintage. (A blend of 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc & 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.) Black fruit aromas are accented by notes of tobacco and cocoa. Full-bodied with harmonious tannins and a lingering finish. This wine is opulent and delicious; a real value.
2004 Pierre Peters Brut Cuvee Speciale les Chetillons Champagne ($99, Wine Advocate: 96 pts) Pierre Péters is a small family-run estate located in the center of the Côte des Blancs region, in the Grand Cru village of Le Mesnil sur Oger. The Péters family has been growing Chardonnay and producing Blanc de Blancs Champagne since 1919, releasing their first vintage under the family name in 1944.
“The 2004 Brut Millesime Cuvee Speciale Les Chetillons is stratospheric. This is a cool, inward Chetillons endowed with breathtaking finesse. The 2004 is noticeably more vibrant and focused than the decidedly exuberant 2002. Ripe pears, almonds and jasmine are some of the notes that flesh out in this pure, energetic wine…” – Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate
If you’re pressed for time, or unsure of your gift recipient’s specific wine taste, our gift cards and e-gift cards provide the perfect solution. Wine Cellarage gift cards take the guesswork out of gift giving by allowing your recipients to choose for themselves. We’ll include your personalized message on one of our festive note cards, which make a beautiful presentation, and we’ll mail the gift card right to your recipient’s door. Our Wine Cellarage e-gift cards make excellent last minute gifts and can be emailed to your recipients anytime, from anywhere, providing the ultimate convenience in gift-giving!
Our wine gift options don’t end here…you may opt to choose from our selection of two- and four-bottle gift sets packaged in collectible gift boxes. If you want to give a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year, The Wine Cellarage Wine Club is ideal! Featuring wines from classic regions and varietals, as well as those from emerging regions and lesser known varietals, our wine club is the ultimate wine gift for enthusiasts and connoisseur’s alike. Each delivery includes 6 wines (3 red & 3 white) as well as wine descriptions for your reference.
In addition to complimentary gift consultations, we offer free gift wrapping services and Free Manhattan Delivery for all orders over $100. We are happy to do the heavy lifting so that you can kick back and enjoy the holiday season!
There has been a distinct chill in the air and the east coast has already seen a significant snowstorm. There’s no denying that winter, and the holidays, are fast approaching. While I’m not necessarily looking forward to the biting cold days ahead, I’m eagerly awaiting the holiday season! The next two months promise to be filled with plenty of feasting, celebration and a steady flow of delicious wine…merriment that will stave off winter’s hold for a while, at least.
With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, family chefs across the nation have already begun planning their menus and experimenting with new recipes. The beauty of Thanksgiving, the reason that it tops my list of favorite holidays, is that it is a celebration of food and family. Not only does the holiday give gourmands more reason than ever to run wild in the kitchen, it is a welcome opportunity for oenophiles to show their stuff too. The cooks are already ahead of the game. It’s time for us wine lovers to plan our attack and seek out the very best wine pairings for the grandest of feasts. So wine lovers, what will you bring to the Thanksgiving table this year?
Pairing wines with Thanksgiving dinner is easier than one might think. The meal itself features abundant flavorful side dishes, all with a gorgeous, simply roasted turkey as the centerpiece. One could argue that just about any wine can work with Thanksgiving, due to the vastness of the meal and diversity of flavors within, but there are certain wines that elevate this feast, bringing it to a whole new level. Here are our suggestions for some truly knockout Thanksgiving wine pairings…
Wine Pairings for Hors d’oeuvres and First Courses
The wine you choose for kicking-off your Thanksgiving feast should have some bubbles! Champagne or sparkling wine makes an ideal pairing for hors d’oeuvres ranging from charcuterie and cheese plates, to soups and salads. Cheese almost always makes its way into the appetizers for a large party and the refreshing acidity and bubbles in sparkling wine cut right through the richness and saltiness of any assortment of cheeses, from Brie to Stilton. This Thanksgiving, we’ve selected several champagnes and domestic sparkling wines for Turkey Day pairings:
NV Henriot Brut Souverain ($50) – Recently awarded 93 points from Wine Spectator, this champagne has long been one of our favorites. A blend of 50% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and 50% Pinot Noir from Montagne de Reims, the Brut Souverain is aged in the quiet darkness of Champagne Henriot’s Gallo-Roman crayeres. These dramatic cellars, unique to the Champagne region, are carved out of chalk 60 feet underground and provide optimal aging conditions. Upon release, the Brut Souverain has been aged to perfection. Its rich, elegant style is lovely as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to variety of dishes from hors d’oeuvres straight through to a fruit-based dessert.
NV Delamotte Brut Blanc de Blancs ($55) – This vivacious champagne, made from 100% Chardonnay, has satisfying richness while being exquisitely elegant at the same time. Delamotte has been producing champagne since 1760 and is the sister house to renowned Champagne Salon. Situated in the grand cru commune Mesnil-Sur-Oger amongst the finest Champagne producing vineyards, Champagne Delamotte is a reflection of this unique, exceptional terroir. The style of this blanc de blancs is well suited to Thanksgiving festivities.
Look no further than New York State for some sensational sparkling wines that are wonderful for Thanksgiving and the holiday season. The Chateau Frank sparkling wines are the very best in quality and offer enticing value as well. For a truly American holiday like Thanksgiving, it is only fitting to show off some of our country’s finest wines…
2006 Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs Finger Lakes ($29) – This blanc de blancs is one of our new favorite 100% Chardonnay sparkling wines from Finger Lakes producer Dr. Frank. This bubbly has a sublime voluptuous froth, great complexity, elegant flavors of honeysuckle, citrus and ginger, all undercut with refreshing, zippy acidity that make it the ideal companion for appetizers and first courses.
NV Chateau Frank Célèbre Rosé Finger Lakes ($20) – The festive color of this sparkling rosé will look stunning on your Thanksgiving Day table and in the hands of your dinner guests. Made from 100% estate grown Pinot Meunier grapes and crafted in the traditional French Crémant style, this sparkling rosé offers rich raspberry and strawberry aromas, lush cherry flavors and beautiful, delicate bubbles.
Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving Dinner
As I mentioned before, I’ve always thought it was nice to feature a few American wines at Thanksgiving. Red Zinfandel is the first wine that comes to mind, especially since it has an interesting immigration story of its own. Let’s be clear, we are not talking about semi-sweet, pink-colored White Zinfandel, which has managed to disgrace the grape’s name. In stark contrast, the Zinfandels that I adore are rich, robust, red wines that sing aromas of ripe briar fruit, dark cherries, currants and spice. They are big, intense wines that pair well with a variety of foods. These wines are akin to the gravy for your Thanksgiving bird.
The history of America’s Zinfandel can be traced to roots in Croatia, where it is named Crljenak Kaštelanski, then to Italy, where it is Primitivo. The grape was brought to the Boston area in the early 19th century, by the Austrian Imperial Nursery, and named Zinfandel (a name whose origins are unclear). By the mid 19th century, the grape had made its way to sunny California, where it was a popular table grape and dried for sweet raisins. A few years later, California recognized Zin as viable for winemaking, and adopted the grape as a signature American varietal.
Zinfandel has extensive heritage in America, and an immigration story that reaches far beyond our borders. The lush fruit character and versatility of these wines make them an ideal pairing for your turkey along with all the trimmings.
The Zinfandel to pour this Thanksgiving is the 2009 Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel Geyserville ($35). Wine Advocate critic Antonio Galloni praises this impressive wine, awarding it with an attractive score of 94 points.
“The 2009 Geyserville is a gorgeous wine. It shows expressive inner perfume, sweet black cherries, menthol and minerals. This is an understated, exceptionally elegant red endowed with considerable finesse and fabulous overall balance. A round, sensual finish makes it impossible to resist a second taste…” – Antonio Galloni
Pinot’s beautiful cherry fruit aromas and flavors, combined with its characteristic earthy quality, make it just perfect for Thanksgiving menus. Harvest season ingredients such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, roasted root veggies, nuts and dried berries are all accentuated by the character of Pinot Noir. Those Pinots from the West Coast (California, Oregon and Washington State) tend to be more fruit-forward, which is a great complement for turkey meat. Pinots from Burgundy are often lighter bodied with an earthy-minerally quality, quite similar to the character of the ingredients that show up on the Thanksgiving table. Any of the Pinots listed below will work marvelously with your feast…
2009 Capiaux Cellars Pinot Noir Widdoes Vineyard Russian River Valley ($35) – A delicious and sweet-fruited single-vineyard Pinot Noir with lush berry flavors, earthy undertones, full juicy body and a smooth, rich texture. Sean Capiaux, owner and winemaker of Capiaux Cellars, is a Pinot Noir expert with an impressive winemaking resume, including Jordan, Pine Ridge and Peter Michael in California and Houghton Winery in Australia.
2008 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Yamhill Cuvee Willamette Valley ($37) – With its dark fruit, black cherry, lively spice notes and impeccable structure, your bird is calling for the Yamhill Cuvee this Thanksgiving. Domaine Serene Winery and Vineyard was founded in 1989 by husband and wife team, Ken and Grace Evenstad. The Evenstad’s are advocates for sustainable farming, practicing dry farming techniques on their vineyards, meaning that they never use artificial irrigation or tap into local rivers to water their vines. Domaine Serene specializes in world class Pinot Noirs, while also producing excellent Chardonnay and Syrah.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we can get enough of 2009 Burgundy. They are simply irresistible. Don’t feel guilty about uncorking them this Thanksgiving…even if their projected prime is still a few years away!
2009 Domaine Michel Magnien Bourgogne Rouge ($25) – Rich black cherry and blackcurrant aromas and flavors are dressed up with baking spices and subtle floral aromas. You’ll hear, “Please pass the Burgundy” more than anything else with this stellar Pinot on the table.
2008 Domaine Bernard Moreau Bourgogne Rouge ($20) – This is exceptional red Burgundy for the price. Lovely red cherry aromas give way to an earthy accent of briar patch. The vibrant acidity and lengthy satisfying finish make this a superb choice for the Thanksgiving feast.
White Wine Options
Aromatic white wines work especially well with Thanksgiving dinner for several reasons. Grapes such as Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling can be vinified into dry wines that have slight amounts of residual sugar. This hint of sweetness, combined with the fragrant and sometimes tropical aromas and flavors in the wine, pairs wonderfully with Thanksgiving Day spreads, which often incorporate sweet elements as well (think sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce). Meanwhile, the naturally high acidity of these types of wine is the perfect foil for rich, hearty dishes.
Chardonnay is another excellent option for Thanksgiving and a classic pairing for roasted turkey. You can go with either a white Burgundy or a new world Chardonnay with subtle oak influence.
2009 Breggo Cellars Pinot Gris Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley ($27) Located in Northern California’s rustic, pastoral Anderson Valley, Breggo Cellars specializes in stunning wines from Alsatian varietals – Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Breggo means “sheep” in the local dialect, homage to the area’s native population of sheep. The winery property, a 203-acre farm, was one of the first sheep ranches in Anderson Valley. This small production (only 350 cases produced), single-vineyard Pinot Gris offers delightful notes of pear, baked apple and honey, with a touch of candied lemon peel. Rich and medium-bodied, flavors of apricot preserves, melon and Meyer lemon dance on the palate.
2009 Breggo Cellars Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley ($27) – This exotic and enticing wine shows opulent aromas of orange zest, lychee, honeysuckle and rose, enhanced by notes of sweet lemon and apricot. Elegant and refreshing on the palate, bright tropical flavors mingle with zippy acidity and a long, lovely finish. Only 398 cases made.
2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Clos Baudoin ($25) – Crafted in a range of styles from bone dry to sweet, François Chidaine’s Chenin Blancs share an ethereal quality and great complexity. A brilliant wine with aromas of lemon rind, honey suckle, citrus blossom and white pepper; on the palate, the tangy character is accompanied by honeyed citrus flavors, with hints of bitter almond skin. The finish lingers gracefully. A truly exceptional wine with the resounding acidity and brightness needed to emphasize the elements of Thanksgiving’s banquet.
2008 Ramey Wine Cellars Chardonnay Russian River Valley ($28) – “Bright yellow. Precise, mineral-driven aromas of pear, spicecake, iodine and wet concrete, along with a sexy floral aspect. At once tactile and fine-grained, with subtle smokiness giving depth to the flavors of Meyer lemon, minerals and candied ginger. Tightens up toward the back, finishing quite suave, with strong lift and cut to its ginger-laced orchard fruit flavors.” – Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, 91 pts
2008 Domaine Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault Genevrières ($85) “As it almost always is, here the nose is spicier still and more refined as well with striking complexity adding compelling interest to the floral, citrus and white fruit aromas. The rich, concentrated and classy flavors possess plenty of extract that confers a seductive texture that carries over to the impressively long and harmonious finish. This is unmistakably at another level, at least at this early juncture.” – Burghound, 92 pts
Rosé is one of my favorite wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. Not only is the wine’s color cheerful and festive, the characteristic red berry flavors make it the ideal choice for Thanksgiving. Incredibly food friendly, Rosé provides the best of both worlds, combining the brisk acidity and refreshing quality of a white wine with the body and structure of a red wine, making it compatible with a range of dishes. To quote Julia Child, “Rosés can be served with anything.” The versatility of the wines below make them perfect pairings for Thanksgiving’s bounty, complimenting everything from the mashed yams to the stuffing.
Steal! 2010 Mulderbosch Vineyards Rose Stellenbosch ($12) – This is a dark cranberry-colored, robust and refreshing rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon, showcasing complex aromas and flavors of rose petals, lime zest and wild strawberry.
2010 Prieure de Montezargues Tavel Rosé ($21) – Enticing style and finesse, showcasing raspberry and subtle peach aromas. On the palate, red berry flavors mingle with Provencal herbs and spices, resounding in the full-body, freshness and length of this gorgeous wine.
2010 Bieler Pere et Fils Sabine Rose Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence ($14) – Aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry and wild strawberry shine, along with racy minerality and bright, food friendly acidity. Charles Bieler has been crafting his delicious Provençal rosé, Bieler Père et Fils Sabine, for the last 5 years. Named for his daughter, Sabine, who was born the same year as the wine’s first vintage, this rosé honors Charles’ father, Philippe, who introduced he and his sister to the wine business. This rosé continues the Bieler family reputation that was built over 13 years at Chateau Routas and the last three years with Three Thieves.
Tuesday, September 13th 2011
This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending an exquisite wine dinner at New York City’s Aureole, hosted by Luc Bouchard of Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils, representing the ninth generation of the family. The dinner was held in Aureole’s elegant private Halo Room, a lustrous dinning space designed with custom backlit sconces that surround its guests and imbue a soft, warm glow. Rich fabric panels and silver leaf detailing add to the Halo Room’s modish adornment.
Founded in 1988 by Charlie Palmer, Aureole was originally located in a historic townhouse off Madison Avenue. In 2009, Aureole reopened in the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, the most environmentally progressive skyscraper in the world, making it a fitting home for Palmer’s flagship restaurant and his signature Progressive American cuisine. When creating Aureole, Palmer was inspired by Manhattan’s famous French restaurant, Lutèce, a NYC landmark for over 40 years. Palmer’s Progressive American cuisine was founded in his early dedication to “farm over factory food”. Today, the Michelin-starred Aureole continues to thrive at its new location, under the kitchen leadership of Executive Chef Marcus Gleadow-Ware.
The Wine Cellarage has been a long time devotee of the Bouchard family’s wines. When Henriot Inc, the exclusive importers of Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils, presented us with the opportunity to co-host this wine dinner, we were thrilled. Established in 1731, Bouchard Père & Fils is one of the Côte d’Or’s most legendary producers. The team behind this great winemaking house is fully committed to producing fine wines that are pure expressions Burgundy’s many terroirs.
Maison Bouchard Père & Fils is located on the site of the ancient Château de Beaune, the underground fortress built by King Luis XI. The Bouchard family has used the underground stronghold as an ideal place for the slow maturation of their wines. Millions of fine and rare bottles are nestled in the cellars of this historic site, in optimal well-protected storage conditions.
Over the past three centuries, the Maison has been devoted to acquiring the very best parcels, in order to build a prestigious domaine and has obtained many vineyard holdings, largely composed of Grand Cru and Premier Cru vines in the heart of the Côte. Champagne Henriot, one of the oldest family-owned Champagne houses, purchased the Maison in 1995. Champagne Henriot’s ownership, together with the Bouchard family’s continued involvement, has carried the Maison’s longstanding tradition of excellence into the 21st Century.
Luc Bouchard was a genial host and visited each table in the dining room, spending time talking with the guests in between courses.
Guests were welcomed into the Halo Room with a glass of NV Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain ($50) and a delicious selection of passed hors d’oeuvres, including irresistible Gougères (classic French cheese puffs) and a delightful tuna tartare. The Champagne was a huge hit. A blend of 50% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and 50% Pinot Noir from Montagne de Reims, the Brut Souverain is aged in the quiet darkness of Champagne Henriot’s Gallo-Roman crayeres. These dramatic cellars, unique to the Champagne region, are carved out of chalk 60 feet underground and provide optimal aging conditions. Upon release, the Brut Souverain has been aged to perfection. Its elegance and richness made it the perfect aperitif and accompaniment to the hors d’oeuvres.
Once the guests were seated, each was graciously poured a glass of 2009 Bouchard Père & Fils Bourgogne Blanc ($18) and our first course appeared, a delectably flavorful Peekytoe Crab salad, with cucumber, watermelon, tomato and summer squash. This combination was ethereal. The refreshing quality of the Chardonnay, its light citrus notes, melon and peach aromas and crisp, integrated acidity and silky smoothness, made it a gorgeous pairing for the flavors in the crab dish.
For the next course, we were presented with a beautiful piece of Alaskan Halibut with English Peas, Girolles (Golden Chanterelles), Pearl Barley, Sea Beans and a soft, poached egg. This stunning dish was paired with the 2008 Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Genevrières Premier Cru ($85), a truly magnificent wine. This Meursault’s enduring stonefruit aromas mingle enticingly with exotic floral and spice notes, following through with peach and apricot flavors, refined richness and silken texture. This was a lively, playful companion for the halibut, accenting the elegant richness of the dish with complementary texture and supple acidity. A favorite among the dinner guests, the 2008 Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Genevrières Premier Cru has a long lasting, memorable finish that beckons you to come back for more.
The Alaskan Halibut and Meursault Genevrières were a tough act to follow, but the third course pulled it off magnificently. A perfectly prepared Veal Ribeye with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, Brown Butter Pomme Puree and Perigord Truffle Jus, was paired with the 2008 Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château Rouge ($42). This wine is showing red berry aromas and flavors, with notes of leather and sweet spices. On the palate, the gamey, savory quality and bright red fruit flavors made it a perfect accompaniment to the veal. The combination was utterly sublime.
The dessert was a pleasant departure from the typically sweet course. Guests were presented with a lovely cheese plate of Murray’s Artisanal Cheeses. The cheese selections were paired with the 2009 Bouchard Père & Fils Gevrey-Chambertin ($54). The Gevrey’s charming wild berry flavors, earthiness and fresh, medium fullness made a superb escort for the cheeses. The Gevrey’s lingering finish was the perfect way to cap off this delightful, delicious evening!
Enjoying a glass of Champagne is both relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time. Its bubbles and ethereal flavors instantly commemorate festivity. Not only does it set any party in motion, it also pairs wonderfully with a variety of foods. So, after four solid days of rush hour commuting and long hours at the office, by the time Thursday evening rolls around, a glass of bubbly is just what the Dr. ordered, right? Or better yet, a glass of the finest Champagne paired with delectable gourmet cheeses and some light-hearted socializing!
Next Thursday, May 12th, Wine Cellarage and the bulthaup showroom in Soho have joined together to host an amazing evening filled with Champagne! Not only will the very best Champagnes be poured, Cristal, Krug and Dom Perignon to name a few, the event will be an enlightening adventure. This exciting tour of select, premium Champagnes will showcase styles ranging from Blanc de Blanc to Rosé and is sure to put a sparkle in your eye.
Antonio Galloni, wine critic for Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, will be the featured guest for the evening. He will be available throughout the event to answer any Champagne questions you may have and will share his insights with all attendees at 7pm.
This is an incredible opportunity to taste a great selection of the world’s finest Champagnes in one night. If you love Champagne as much as we do, this is an event that you won’t want to miss!
Here’s a sneak peek at some of the featured Champagnes…
2002 Moet Chandon Dom Perignon – Moët & Chandon’s prestigious Dom Pérignon is a vintage Champagne that is only made in the most excellent grape-growing years. Named for the legendary Benedictine monk who made great contributions to the craft of sparkling winemaking, this Champagne is a tribute to the noteworthy man. Truly the best of the best, there have only been 36 vintages of Dom Pérignon produced since the first, the 1921 vintage.
2002 Louis Roederer Cristal - A remarkable vintage, the 2002 Louis Roederer Cristal is rich, powerful and refined with great ageing potential. Made with 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, this wine exhibits complex aromas and flavors of ripe red fruit, cocoa, caramel and Viennese pastries. Cristal is the perfect choice for special dinners and celebrations, pairing wonderfully with lobster, scallops, salmon and oysters.
2002 Pierre Peters Brut Cuvée Spéciale les Chétillons – Pierre Péters is a small family-run estate located in the center of the Côte des Blancs region, in the Grand Cru village of Le Mesnil sur Oger. The Péters family has worked together to maintain their vineyards, growing and selecting only the best grapes and producing superior grower Champagne, dedicated to expressing the terroir and varietal character in each of their ethereal wines.
NV Krug Brut Rosé – Krug Rosé is pure extravagance, combining the chic taste of the celebrated Champagne with an intriguing elegance and style of its very own. Exquisite aromas of wild berries, exotic spices and flowers give way to opulent, seductive flavors on the palate. As with all of Krug’s Champagnes, power and finesse come together in each harmonious, sublime sip.
Champagne is the drink of celebration. Its bubbles and ethereal flavors instantly commemorate festivity. Not only does it set the party in motion, but it pairs wonderfully with a variety of foods. From potato chips to sushi, you can’t go wrong with a glass of Champagne. When shopping for this sparkling beverage, we are faced with a number of choices and must decipher a set of labeling terms that tell us about the style of the bubbly in the bottle. Will it be dry, full-bodied, fruity? To begin to understand the language of Champagne and the various styles that it is made in, let’s take a look at the region and a bit of history…
In the most northern reaches of French wine country, and the farthest north of all the European vineyards, lies the legendary Champagne region. Northeast of Paris, hugging the Marne River valley, the region is divided into three main subregions, the Vallée de la Marne, the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Blancs. Here, the short growing season and severe growing conditions produce light wines that have high acidity and low alcohol, the perfect foundation for sparkling wine. Millions of years ago, a sea covered the Champagne region, the fossils and sediments of which formed the area’s chalky soils. If it weren’t for these mineral-rich chalk soils, vines would not grow nearly as well here. The chalk retains water and slowly releases it as the soil dries, ensuring that the vines are always hydrated. The mineral content in the soil nurtures the vines and gives the grapes their character, making wines of quality and distinction.
The bubbles in Champagne come from an intriguing and complex process entailing not one, but two fermentation cycles. Once the wine goes through its initial fermentation, it is bottled as a still wine. Right before bottling, a mixture of sugar, wine and yeast nutrients is added to the wine. In French, this mixture is called “liqueur de tirage”. The bottle is topped with a temporary seal and laid down in the cellar where the second fermentation begins. During this stage, the yeast digests the added sugar, which in turn produces more alcohol and carbon dioxide. The CO2 builds up in the bottle, slowly dissolving in the wine…and viola! Bubbles!
Although Champagne production was initially accidental and it is unclear who actually discovered the process, it is certain that the monk Dom Pérignon was a leader of the Champagne wine movement in France during the mid-1600s. During the early 1800s, Champagne was first commercialized by the infamous Madame (Veuve) Clicquot. The popularity of the bubbly drink continued to grow and around this time, the celebrated Champagne names that we know and love entered the scene, the local merchant Monsieur Moët, as well as Krug, Bollinger and Roederer, all young, business savvy German entrepreneurs. Since those early times, the region struggled with difficulties, from vine-destroying pestilence to fraudulent wine production, occurrences that shaped and strengthened the modern Champagne industry.
There are three grape varietals used in Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Each of these grapes dominates one of the three Champagne subregions and creates wine with specific characteristics. Chardonnay grapes, most common in the Côtes des Blancs subregion, produce a lighter style wine with high acidity, citrus characteristics and fine bubbles. Pinot Noir is widely planted in the Montagne de Reims subregion, and imparts body to sparkling wine blends. Pinot Meunier, the dominant grape in the Marne Valley, provides fruity character to the blend. These three grapes varietals, used in combination or on their own, produce an array of Champagne styles, which brings us to a set of vocabulary that you’ll encounter when buying your bubbly.
A familiar term in Champagne speak is Non-Vintage (NV), which is bubbly made from a blend of wines from different years. NV is considered by some to be superior to Champagne from a single year’s harvest because it allows quality control and insurance that no matter how bad one year’s vintage is, it can be evened-out by the blend. Vintage Champagne shows the year of harvest on the label and has distinct characteristics based on the particular year’s growing conditions. The term Prestige Cuvée is given to Champagne that is made from the highest quality wine and blended with the utmost care. These wines are usually aged for longer periods prior to their release. Examples of Prestige Cuvées from top producers are Moët & Chandon’s Dom Perignon bottling and Roederer’s Cristal.
Champagne labeled Blanc de Blancs, meaning white from whites in French, is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, and is usually a lighter style wine with bright acidity and core flavors of citrus and apple. The labeling term Blanc de Noirs refers to white Champagne made from black grapes, specifically Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier, or a blend of the two. Blanc de Noirs are usually fuller-bodied, fruit-forward Champagnes with a lengthy finish.
Rosé Champagne, with its fun pinkish hue, is made from all three grape varietals, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Interestingly, Rosé Champagne is most frequently made by blending some red wine from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with white wine from Chardonnay. A few Champagne houses use the saignée method, allowing the dark grape skins to have limited contact with the musts and impart some of their color to the wine, but this method is far less common. Rosé Champagnes tend to have a full body and extra fruitiness on the nose and palate.
The level of sweetness in Champagne is determined by the portion of sugar that is added after second fermentation and ageing. The terms listed below refer to the amount of sweetness in Champagne and will help you decide which best suits your taste:
|Term||Dryness Level & Grams Sugar per Liter|
|Brut Nature||The Most Dry; Below 3 g/l|
|Extra Brut||Very Dry; 0-6 g/l|
|Brut||Very Dry – Dry; 0-15 g/l|
|Extra-Sec||Off-Dry; 12-20 g/l|
|Sec||Medium-Dry; 17-35 g/l|
|Demi-Sec||Sweet; 33-50 g/l|
|Doux||Very Sweet; 50+ g/l|
Brut is the most common of these styles, however, since the levels of sweetness overlap, it is left to the producer’s discretion to use the labeling term of their choosing.
On a final note, there are many incredible and delicious sparkling wines made throughout the world, but in order to be labeled Champagne, it must come from that specific region in France. When searching for the Champagne that will put a sparkle in your eye, try different brands and styles, and don’t forget to pair it with food for a truly amazing dining experience!