Menu for december
Gramona 2004 Gran Cuvee Cava 19.99
I was in my thirties before I began drinking Champagne or sparkling wine for anything other than New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day or some celebration of significance. When I travelled to Spain in 1991, that’s when I “got it”… sparkling wine, it’s not just for celebrations anymore. I’ve been trying to get my hands on this exquisite Cava from Gramona for years. It’s made with the usual suspects, Xarello, Macabeo and Paradella (sounds like Yellow Springs from my generation, always changing their names.) The difference here is the treatment. You’ll notice there’s a vintage date…unusual. Most, not all, but most is NV. The Gramona family uses a light dosage from a liquor stash dating back to the early 1900’s. Gramona is still somewhat small, family owned and handcrafted to the 10th power. Depending on your budget, it’s perfect for celebrating a birthday, as a holiday party aperitif or with your lunch salad on much needed day off.
Vesselle Oeil de Pedrix 42.99
I know I’ ve said this before, but if there were one Champagne I could drink everyday, it would be this one from Vesselle. The winery was taken over in 1996 by Delphine Vesselle from her father, Jean and has never looked back. She fashions Oeil de Pedrix (eye of the partridge) from 100% Pinot Noir from Bouzy. The wine is the loveliest copper color with a yeasty, fresh baked bread aroma and a smoky element very characteristic of Pinot Noir. This is a food Champagne perfect for robust and flavorful main dishes.You are really doing yourself a disservice if you use this wine merely as a New Year’s Eve toast.
Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’ Alsace Brut 19.99
Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’ Alsace Brut Rose 19.99
I just love German and Alsatian wines. Aside from the lovely complexity of flavors and intriguing expression of soil and vineyard styles, there is the long, long documentation of history in minutia. The Albrecht family traces their winemaking roots back to the 15th century. I appreciate career longevity. According to labor statistics, the average baby boomer will change jobs 9.6 times. I’ve basically had two jobs in my adult life. I don’t count working at the Air Force Museum Coffee Shop with Kim. That’s a saga fit for a TV drama, but as usual, I digress. The Albrecht Brut is 100% Pinot Blanc and is dry and refreshing with aromas of white flowers. Made from 100% Pinot Noir the Brut Rose is rounder with flavors of tart red currants and of course, a festive pink color. Both these sparklers are affordable indulgances.
Schramsberg 200 ?Blancs de Blancs 34.99
I’m so often disappointed with domestic sparkling wine, I seldom give them a second glance. Quite frankly I’d rather drink Cava, Prosecco or a sparkling wine from the Loire. The exception is Schramsberg. This is our equivalent of real Champagne…it’s the domestic sparkler I’m always proud to serve at the restaurant or show off to my wine geek friends. This Blanc de Blancs just rocks my world. It has all these juicy, citrusy flavors…meyer lemon, lime zest with the yeasty aromas of brioche. Love it.
Lallement Grand Cru Brut NV 39.99
Terry Theise was in town a few weeks ago for a tasting at Jean-Robert’s. I was dying to go, but alas it was the first night of Garlic Dinner and I pulled one of those not so uncommon 14 hour days. Toward the end of the evening I cleaned up a bit and strolled through the dining room. David Schildknecht and his group were just finishing up. I walked over and chatted, all the time wanting to ask him about the Terry Theise tasting. Not wanting to appear rude, especially to his wife Cathy, who endures endless wine conversations when she’s out with David I finally couldn’t help myself…”Did you make it to Terry’s tasting today? Any favorites?” “Lallement”, he answered. I tasted through Champagnes for this newsletter the next week and paid particular attention to this one. It’s focused and pristine. Unbelievably affordable for the quality. This is the Champagne I’’m drinking December 20th to celebrate my firstborn’s 13th birthday. Thanks David.
Guy Larmandier Vertus Brut Premier Cru NV 46.99
This is my crowd pleaser Champagne and it just takes Veuve Clicquot to the
mat. I mean there’s really no comparison. A Chardonnay based wine with low dosage it’s loaded with mineral and citrus high tones, lime zest especially. If you like it dry, dry, dry Larmandier offers up one of the best drinking bottles of authentic (and I mean that in the truest sense of the word) Champagne you’re ever going to find. Don’t pay for an inferior product with lots of glitzy advertising and an orange label. Instead include this beautiful bottling in your New Year’s Eve celebration. The only person you really need to impress is yourself.
Henri Billiot 1998 Gran Cru Reserve Brut 64.99
Serge Billiot is friend and neighbor of the Egly’s. This is Ambonnay and the name of the game is Pinot Noir. The two winemakers produce very different Champagnes. This wine is bubbling over with enthusiastic fruit with an appealing smokiness. I tasted this last year and it seems particularly silky and seductive. I always choose a Champagne from this newsletter to have for my NYEve celebration, typically on New Years Day (I am in the restaurant business after all). I’m thinkin’ this is the one for my honey and me to usher in 2008.
Lengs and Cooter Sparkling Red 21.99
Paringa Sparkling Shiraz 9.99
Last year everyone thought I was crazy trying to sell sparkling red wine. Guess what happened…customers loved them and really, what’s not to like? The Lengs and Cooter is a blend of Malbec and Shiraz. It’s perfect with red wine inspired small plates. It’s the prettiest little wine you can imagine with a dark garnet color and a lovely, frothy lavender mousse. It’s full of red cherry fruit and baking spice aromas but make no mistake, this is a dry wine. I don’t know what else to say to convince you. Let the rest be snobs, you and I will just enjoy ourselves with this lovely sparkling red. Paringa offers 100% Sparkling Shiraz and is a touch fruitier and less complex than the Lengs and Cooter. I find this a delightful accompaniment to after dinner cheese or as a festive lunch or brunch wine.
Botter Prosecco 'Spago' NV 10.99
There’s oodles of insipid sparkling wine out there folks. My advice…avoid it at all costs! I think of many things this way since I’ve turned 50. I just refuse to watch much TV. It’s just too stupid. Maybe it’s the feeling that I don’t have all the time in the world anymore, but I don’t want to spend any on my precious free time watching Dancing with the Stars. I feel the same way about food. Sure, I’m careful about my diet without feeling denied, but I will not eat junk or just plain bad food. Life’s too short. Believe me, I can partake of a high calorie indulgance now and then but I’m more likely to eat an entire Vosges Barcelona Bar then a box of Archway cookies. So it goes with wine…don’t even think about buying the Barefoot Bubbly when you can indulge yourself with Botter’s Prosecco. It’s delicious on it’s own, but is delicious for any sort of holiday cocktail you can imagine. Aside from Mimosas, try some of the cassis, framboise or peach liquors we sell at the winestore with this Prosecco.
Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru 65.99
Many years ago there were a handful of these Champagnes Terry Theise so decriptively calls “Farmer Fizz”. The big houses still have the lion’s share of the market, but these are the guys who grow the grapes and make the Champagne that lets you taste the difference between Ambonnay, Bouzy, Äy or Verzenay. Egly-Ouriet is the biggest, fleshiest Champagne of my offerings. It’s mostly Pinot Noir and a smidge of Chardonnay with aromas of fresh biscuits or baking pie dough with earthy, red fruit flavors. I have only one case available. That’s it. No more.
Paul Bara NV Rose Brut 59.99
Many times people feel a calling, either to do charity work or to the church or to teach. This many sound trite, but perhaps my calling in the wine world is to evangalize for pink wine. Let me tell ya, in our “discriminating” state of Ohio, talking about pink wine is akin to saying you like blue and gold. Them’s fightin’ words. So here I am to tell you one more time and you’re just going to have to trust me. You don’t need to be pinkphobic. I know how you feel, I’ve lived in ----phoblic Ohio my entire life. Rosé Champagnes and most Rosé still wines from Europe are not sweet. That wine is White Zinfandel. In fact, this lovely pink tinged Champagne from Paul Bara may be the driest in my Champagne lineup. This Kermit Lynch import is from Bouzy and that’s Pinot Noir country. An exquisite Champagne with beautiful red currant/red raspberry fruit and an unexpected richness on the palate.
La Spinetta Moscato d’ Asti 2006 Bricco Quaglia 17.99
Although a dollar or two more than most Moscato d’ Asti, La Spinetta’s version is heads above the rest. Yes, most people serve it as a dessert wine, but what about as an aperitivo with some salty cheese or for brunch with a smoked salmon omelette? This lightly effervescent wine is loaded with juicy peach flavors with a zippy zing of tangerine zest in the finish. At at mere 5.5% alcohol, it’s the perfect little quaffer for Christmas brunch.