To say 2020 has been a difficult year would be an understatement of monumental proportions. Don’t let your haste to put 2020 behind you results in a missed opportunity to treat yourself to a New Year’s Eve toast with a great Champagne as you show the past year the door. Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois Champagne ($85) is just such a Champagne. It is a unique cuvée made with three Champenois grape varieties blended in an artful style that resurrects the heart and soul of original Champagne. The Premier and Grand Cru Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs, Premier, and Grand Cru Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims, Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, and Pinot Meunier from the right bank of the Vallée de la Marne are vinified entirely in oak and aged 6 to 7 years on their lees to yield a Champagne with a complex aromatic character. Brut Sous Bois displays a brilliant yellow color in the glass with sparkles of gold highlighting the steady streams of small bubbles that delight the eye. Aromas of fresh citrus and dried fruit lead your palate naturally into the bold burst of flavors featuring notes of grilled brioche and toffee, exactly what you would expect from a powerful mature wine from Champagne. Pairing suggestions include mushroom dishes, cheese (especially finely shaved Monk’s head), and poultry. This full-bodied wine will stand up to the heavier fare of the holiday season and can provide the perfect complement to steak or other grilled meat. Billecart-Salmon’s pursuit of quality doesn’t stop with what they put in the bottle but also with the label itself. Look closely and you will see the label is made from real cherry wood. To enjoy the true essence of Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois Champagne pour a glass and just savor the moment.
I have noticed that the latest trend is to go directly from Halloween into Christmas and by doing so minimizing Thanksgiving as a holiday. I find this trend to be particularly disturbing because I like Thanksgiving and the traditional family gatherings that revolve around it. We had the pleasure of celebrating our Thanksgiving with my wife’s family, several of which we haven’t seen lately. Our god-daughter Liz was among the family members we got to spend time with on that day. Liz had recently taken a job closer to home after working for a major wine importer and distributor. Luckily for us she had maintained her contacts in the industry and brought some outstanding bottles with her.
The bottle that caught my eye and my curiosity was a Cuvée Rosé Grand Cru Champagne from R.H. Coutier, a producer from Ambonnay. This French sparkler is a delicate Rosé made from 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir which explains its enchanting salmon pink color. It’s a well-balanced Champagne that opens with cream notes on the nose leading to red berries, prominently strawberries with an ever so slight hint of mint on the finish. R.H.Coutier received a 90 point rating from Wine Spectator and 92 points from Wine Advocate for this offering making it a great value ($45-$50) for a French Champagne of this quality.
Italian sparkling wine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Prosecco is often mistakenly called Italian Champagne but that isn’t a bad comparison. This sparkling wine is made from the Prosecco grape the oldest cultivated grape in Italy. Mionette Prosecco D.O.C. Treviso Brut has received a 89 point rating from the Wine Enthusiast. This wine has a 11% alcohol content and a R.S. of .9. Pop the cork and pour a glass to enjoy the pale straw color with your eyes, lift it to your nose to smell the fruity aroma of pear and citrus then finally taste the golden apple and peach with the light body and dry finish. This wine should be enjoyed fresh and certainly be consumed within 3 months of purchase. Serve with appetizers and mild cheeses but another use is as an excellent base for a Bellini and other sparkling wine cocktails.
Calling Prosecco Italian Champagne is meaningful for me because Champagne is associated with memorable events and that is the case for me. My lovely wife and I have celebrated our wedding anniversary twice at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Both times we had dinner at Osteria del Circo where the staff lined up to greet and congratulate us upon our arrival. Circo is a Tuscan styled restaurant that boasts a wine list of 900 selections from all over the world. We were led to our table that looked out onto the lake and it famous dancing waters. She ordered Prosecco to complement her Mediterranean Sea Bass. I can still see the thin strings of bubbles rising in her glass as she enjoyed the evenings celebration. Where we will be celebrating this year is still unplanned but I hope you will make great memories in your life that include great wine.