Ever wondered where the experts stand on the best wine practices and controversies? In this series, wine blogger, teacher and author Tyler Colman (a. k. a. Dr. Vino) delivers a final judgement.
Here, F&W's Megan Krigbaum offers a visual guide to buying Champagne for New Year's Eve, and the latest news from the region's top producers.
Photos, clockwise from top left: Courtesy of Chartoque-Taillet, Gimonnet & Fils, The Rare Wine Co., Krug, Maisons Marques & Domaines, Perrier-Jouët, Bollinger, Moët, Nicholas Feuillatte.
This house’s Brut Réserve ($65) has long been a favorite among Champagne insiders. Now it’s even better. By raising the amount of reserve wines in the blend (which have an average age of 10 years) to 40 percent, new chef de cave Thierry Roset has given it remarkable depth and complexity for a basic brut.
Lanson recently released a terrifically complex Extra Age Brut ($100), a blend of wines from three great vintages. Even more enticing: The house has also started selling library vintages from its cellars in Reims, some dating back to the 1970s.
With new Interprétation kits, Ruinart helps neophytes judge scents like sommeliers. The NV Brut Rosé kit ($99) has eight vials of scents, from pomegranate to rose, for you to sniff; then you can look for the same aromas in the wine. sherry-lehmann.com.
Bar Vivant, Portland; Photo © Dina Avíla Photography.
Festive and versatile, impressive Champagne selections are now everywhere, from a tree house in France to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. F&W’s Megan Krigbaum celebrates the news. Plus, Champagne Lexicon so you can know what you're ordering.
Chicago: Bubbles Wine Bar
Finding a good glass of wine at an airport is nearly impossible, but at this new spot in O’Hare, travelers can order Champagnes like Taittinger’s NV Brut La Française and sample artisanal cheeses while waiting for flights. Terminal 3, O’Hare Airport.
New York City: Corkbuzz Wine Studio
Owner Laura Maniec (whose expertise we tap for Tasting Workout), wants everyone to drink Champagne every day. So she’s started her Champagne Campaign: Each night starting at 10 p.m., every bottle of Champagne on her list is half-off, including pricey têtes de cuvée like the 2002 Dom Ruinart Brut. 13 E. 13th St.; corkbuzz.com.
New York City: L’Apicio
At his new East Village restaurant, co-owner and sommelier Joe Campanale serves 30 sparkling wines by the bottle. At least eight are grower Champagnes (small-production wines from individual estates). 13 E. First St.; lapicio.com.
Co-owner Peter Landis developed a special draft system just for his new Market Square spot, which always keeps five sparkling wines on tap. His other 22 sparkling selections are served by the bottle. 25 Market Sq.; perlepgh.com.
Portland, OR: Pix Pâtisserie/Bar Vivant
“Every December, we’ve had 100 Champagnes on offer, but starting last year, I decided to keep them year-round,” says owner–pastry chef–Champagne fiend Cheryl Wakerhauser of Pix and the new Bar Vivant, a tapas bar. 2225 E. Burnside St.; pixpatisserie.com.
Verzy, France: Perchingbar
This unusual treehouse bar sits 18 feet above the ground in a park outside the town of Verzy. Guests can have glasses of Bollinger or Pehu Simonet in the clubby lounge or on the huge wraparound deck surrounded by trees. Plan ahead, though, as it’s open only during warmer months. perchingbar.eu.
Blanc de Blancs White Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes.
Dosage A blend of wine and sugar that is added to most Champagne at the final bottling to offset the acidity of the wine.
Blanc De Noirs White Champagne made from red Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Mousse The foam that appears at the top of a glass of Champagne when it’s poured.
Brut Dry, meaning that the wine has a minimal dosage—less than 12 grams of sugar per liter.
Courtesy of Rustico.
Ray's top three sparkling wines under $20. Also, how to avoid fast-flying corks and unintentional champagne showers. »
You know the rest of that line, right? Well, it's with some small amount of sadness that I am saying that about this blog: It must come to an end. I've had a terrific time writing it, but we've decided that in the end it's a bit strange, for a magazine that's all about bringing together food and wine, to have separate blogs on those topics.
So, from here on out, any wine blogging that I (and Megan Krigbaum, Kristin Donnelly, and various other stalwart folks) do will instead appear in F&W's primary blog, Mouthing Off. No less wine coverage, just a different venue. See you there.
What happened to the other 145 bottles? At least one was consumed, immediately, by the divers who discovered it. One told the press: "It had a very sweet taste. You could taste oak and it had a very strong tobacco smell." Sound enticing? You can hope that the Finnish government releases more.
So, were they waiting till after the wedding to make this announcement? According to England's The Daily Mail, the royal family is going to start producing sparkling wine from one of its estates, Windsor Great Park. Apparently they'll plant more than 16,000 grapevines there in the next couple of weeks. Sparkling would be appropriate, of course—Pol Roger Brut Champagne was served at the recent royal wedding reception (much to my chagrin, as I'd predicted it might be Bollinger when I was on the Today show the Wednesday before the wedding).
If you haven't stocked up on sparkling wine or Champagne for New Year's yet, here's a clip from the CBS Early Show this morning, where I went through a number of great, affordable possibilities with host Harry Smith. I was also on the CNBC WSJ Report with Maria Bartiromo over the weekend, talking a bit more about the business side of sparkling wine, along with some recommendations. The video on their site isn't working at the moment for some reason, but here's the text of the story.
© Christopher Klapp/Petrossian West Hollywood
Petrossian's Champagne and Caviar Coffret
I will not be purchasing this gift for anyone this year, but if I had $490 dollars to spend on one person, this would definitely be high up on my list. Petrossian Caviar’s West Hollywood shop has put together a pretty over-the-top set called the Caviar and Champagne Coffret that contains of 125 grams of Tsar Imperial Transmontanous Caviar, two half-bottles of Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne and two mother-of-pearl spoons. I might be tempted to tack on a couple of these metal straws to encourage drinking the Champagne straight from the bottles. Unfortunately, this set isn’t available on the Petrossian website, but you can call the shop directly to place orders at 310-271-0576.
© Courtesy Dom Pérignon
© Courtesy Dom Pérignon
Now, in a tribute to the pop-art legend, Dom Pérignon has teamed up with Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London for a limited-edition collection of three Andy Warhol–inspired bottles, vintage 2002. The labels, in red, yellow or blue, recall Warhol’s bold use of color and graphics.
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