December 8 is the Immaculate Conception and therefore I am thinking of the holidays almost upon us. I love the holiday season, the chill in the air, Christmas trees everywhere and of course, flowing sparkling wine. Some of my favorite places to go to in New York during the holidays include the Metropolitan Museum with its gorgeous Neapolitan Christmas tree.
I also love this particular fountain on 6th avenue near the Hilton Hotel. Every year I go to see Alvin Ailey and revel in their amazing dance performances. As a girl, I used to love to see the Nutcracker while the holiday train show and the Rockettes have been more recent joys with my niece and nephew.
With my son we also like to see the origami tree at the Museum of Natural History. Today I discovered a tree in Central Park with small christmas ornaments in the Rambles, quite unexpected.
There are many ways to get into the holiday spirit and certainly drinking great wines with friends and family are among them. I am a firm believer in that theory in times of joy and sadness. The holidays can bring about both and I find that seeing Christmas trees with lights and joy on kids faces always does the trick. Today’s wine hails from Moet & Chandon, it’s their Ice Imperial. This is a wine that I was given by my young babysitter as a birthday present. She’s a novice wine drinker and I think the packaging appealed to her as well as the festive natural of Champagne. I drank it while celebrating my son’s second birthday and it was perfect complement for his very sweet birthday cake.
Celebrating life with Champagne. I love Champagne and I love this particular one quite a lot. Pol Roger is one of the last few champagne houses that are still entirely family owned. In fact, my very first wine tasting in New York years ago was a Wildman portfolio tasting, Pol Roger’s importer, and a member of the family was there pouring their wines. A very elegant older gentleman, it was a memorable experience. The family has some 220 acres of vineyards, mostly in the south of Epernay and the Cotes de blancs. This particular Champagne is composed of one third Pinot Noir, one third Chardonnay and one third Meunier. It spends three years on its lees. Each grape brings different aspects to the blend: Pinot Noir brings body, Pinot Meunier provides freshness and fruit notes and Chardonnay enhances the experience by adding an elegant lift.
This Champagne has a beautiful perlage, lovely floral and fruit notes as well as nutty and toasty aromas and flavors that make this a classic and a great one to celebrate sweetness in your life. I drank it right after my beautiful, long desired son arrived in 2014. Every time I have this wine, I think of how marvelous that bottle was indeed. Cheers to life and to Niccolo’, my exquisite boy.
This Wednesday’s wine of the week was a Cremant Rose from Martinolles that I had last night at Raouls with friends. The wine is made from a blend of 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir. It is made using the traditional method and spends some 15 months in the bottle before being released into the market. The vinification is done using whole cluster pressing. I had it with skate but could also see it pairing well with sushi and salmon. The domaine is in town of Saint-Hilaire, where the Blanquette de Limoux wines were born. The soils are a mixture of clay and calcareous matter. The wine has both fruity and floral characteristics. It had a fair amount of residual sugar. around 14 g/l, which surprised me but also good acidity. I really enjoyed it and would buy it in a store to drink at home as well. It’s widely available and priced around $18. It would work well with Thanksgiving foods as well from the turkey to cranberry relish as well as cheeses and sides.
I’m having a sparkling rose moment so it went perfectly with my latest deep dive into these wines. The winery is apparently quite close to Carcassone, a
city in France that I have never visited but have always longed to see. Perhaps now I have two reasons to go on my next trip.
I had this wine at Raoul’s. It was a real New York evening, in a real New Yorky bar/restaurant of old. It was great to be out and see the New York I want to see rather than box stores and high-rises. Raoul’s recently celebrated it’s 40th anniversary, a long time for a restaurant. It was started by two brothers from Alsace, Guy and Serge.
As a huge fan of Ferrari, I am not the slightest bit surprised that it was chosen as the official sparkling wine of the Emmy’s. Lucky for me I am ready with a chilled bottle already waiting in my fridge. Ferrari makes amazing sparkling wine from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Trentino.
Ferrari was founded in 1902 by Giulio Ferrari and their name is synonymous with sparkling wine in Italy. Made in the Metodo Classico style, Ferrari was among the first wineries to bring sparking wine into every Italian household. Giulio Ferrari had studied at the School of Viticulture in Montpellier and dreamt of making an Italian equivalent to Champagne. They produce some 4.5 million bottles a year.
Giulio Ferrari didn’t have any children and chose a friend and local merchant Bruno Lunelli as successor for his winery, who took over in 1952. The company was run by Bruno’s three sons, Gino, Mauro and Franco, starting from 1969 until 2005, and then Bruno’s grandchildren, Marcello, Matteo and Camilla took the reins of the firm. I have met all of them many times and they are a truly lovely bunch. They have a team of eight winemakers, led by Marcello Lunelli, and four agronomists.
Salute to them!
In this difficult week for the US and for Britain, with terrible news on both sides of the Atlantic, I thought about British sparkling wine. The first one I tried years ago was the product above Nyetimber. Today I was googling British sparkling wine and came upon a website and association dedicated to just that, British wine producers. How things have changed. It is no long even considered such a novelty but is part of the wine landscape.
I also had no idea that it had been English wine week. According to the website, “English Wine Producers (EWP) are celebrating a record uptake of activity in English Wine Week this year, with the number of participants from both on- and off-trade more than doubling on 2015.” The website is chock full of history about wine in the British isles for over the centuries. It also lists all of the producers that are members of the association. It’s fun to think of Britain in these terms. I usually think of the countries that border the Mediterranean when I think of European wine producing countries. Of course climate change has and will continue to modify where grapes can and should be grown. I do hope that when mentioning Britain, I can continue to talk about Europe, after next week’s referendum. As a student of international relations at SAIS John’s Hopkins, it’s hard to imagine Brexit as a good thing for anyone. That’s my two cents on the topic made all the more complex after the death of a young MP, mother of two children, killed allegedly by a supporter of leaving the EU. What a world. Where are we going with this level of violence. I know this is a wine blog but I can’t stand. As mom to a young son, I wonder what I will teach him as he grows about the world we live in and what to expect next.
I first discovered Castillo Perelada many years ago when I was writing up wineries for an importer’s website. At the time I remember thinking that it looked like a dreamy place to visit. I loved reading about it and its history but did not have the chance to taste their wines. At the recent Penin Guide tasting in May however, I did just that. I was blown away but their Cavas. I love sparkling wine and I love Cava in general but this one was really very special. Brut Nature means very little residual sugar which I really appreciate because I am very sensitive to RS. Made from the three traditional Cava varieties, Parellada (60%), Xarello (25%), Macabeu (15%). This wine is the essence of summer to me. Saludos.
I love eating outside and this weekend is supposed to be really hot so I am only in the mood for whites – particularly sparkling wine, of all kinds. I think your party hosts will agree with me and a bottle of something bubbly will do the trick. There are so many sparklers in the world that I love, Italian and others: Franciacorta, Prosecco, Trento DOC, Champagne, Cava, Blanquette di Limoux, and others. Last week at the Penin tasting I tried many fantastic Cavas and all would be a great choice with your holiday fare. I know I will be toasting with sparkling wine next week. I hope you will too.
In Italy, so many producers are making sparkling wine from indigenous varieties that you really have your pick of wines. I am excited to hear what you will be drinking. Cin Cin!