Holiday Greetings, friends of ODB!
I hope you are all having a most enjoyable holiday season, filled with loved ones, delicious beverages, and good books!
To build on Emily’s fantastic entry and the ODB team's ideas about how to throw a holiday party - I felt it only necessary to toss in a post about that all-important (at least in this wine nerd’s humble opinion) component to a good time: the wine. Especially as this IS the 31st of December. I have included below a few of my favourite tasty treats to help you all ring in 2015.
The picks below are perfect to stock if you are hosting your own soirée tonight or to bring if you're attending someone else’s.
Disclaimer: I found it incredibly challenging to not include ONLY Champagne, as that is basically my religion this time of year... of course, I’m only half kidding - we have to make room for the other kids!
NV De Chanceny Crémant de Loire (Loire Valley, France) $23
A snappy, fresh, dry “Crémant”, meaning it was made in the “Methode Traditionelle” (read: made in the same way as Champagne). Awesome value here, universally likeable, and a great option as an aperitif, for sipping all night long, or as a base for sparkling cocktails. A darling host/ hostess gift.
NV Domaine Rolet Rosé Crémant Brut (Jura, France) $26
One of my personal favorites, this wine is a delicate coral color, offering red berry qualities, great minerality, pleasing bubbles, and loads of complexity for $26. I have subjected every single one of my friends to this wine, and know from experience that even if you think you don’t like Rosé (and why not?!?!) you won’t likely be able to resist this wine’s rose-tinted allure.
NV Serveaux Fils “Carte Noir” (Champagne, France) $46
This wine is a total gem, very rare to find great grower Champagne at such a fair price! This is a Blanc de Noirs, so made entirely from the region’s red (or black) grapes - Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier - which give the wine a racy, almost edgy, super-fresh quality. Think less girly and more dapper, this is a stylish option for an all-night kind of sipper, and is also an ideal companion to raw oysters and other NYE fair.
NV Cesconi “Blauwal” (Trento, Italy) $50
Ok, this wine may be Italian, but make no mistake - this ain’t no Prosecco! This is serious stuff (seriously delicious). Basically, it’s Champagne made in the Italian Dolomite Mountains. 100% Chardonnay, made in the same method as Champagne, and held in the producer’s cold cellars for 5 years before being released for you to enjoy on NYE. This wine has the rich, creamy, nutty, and toasty qualities that hit all those pleasure points one craves from Champagne wines, but with an Italian swagger. Just Do It.
NV Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blanc d’Aÿ (Champagne, France) MAGNUM! 1500mL $125
This is total party Champagne – it is eminently approachable, delicious, satisfying, and maintains complexity and intrigue. (And very reasonably priced for a magnum of Champers!) It will please seasoned Champagne drinkers and those newer to the game alike. Major Party Points (MPP) Alert: big bottle! Everyone loves a double-bottle of wine, and when it is Champagne, it sometimes seems too good to be true. You will win all popularity contests if you arrive with this in hand.
013 Jeanne Gaillard Syrah (Northern Rhône, France) $20
I acknowledge that many people will wish to go the red wine route for NYE, so for my first pick I included this absolute party-pleaser of a wine: a Northern Rhone Syrah by the daughter of a very well-known vigneron in these parts. This wine packs lots of flavour, hinting at plums and dark berries, a touch of spice, and a nice zip, while still being plush, soft and quite full – superb balance. Very versatile, it will pair well with most foods which pass it’s way, and is also totally satisfying on it’s own. This wine has become a perennial favorite of Our Daily Brett’s as an accompaniment for Brett’s wonderful food at the weddings and events he caters.
2013 A & M Quenard Chignin Classique (Savoie, France) $22
This is one of the best alternatives to the ubiquitous Pinot Grigio. I understand why people gravitate to Pinot Grigio – it’s light and easy to get into, but there are some much more interesting wines out there, such as the above and still at an attractive price point ($22). The grape variety is called Jacquere, and is native to this Easterly region – the Savoie – which is shared by France and Switzerland. It is super clean and crunchy, with hints of lemon zest – mostly, totally refreshing. This is wine for drinking (and dancing) all night long, the freshness and vivacity will keep you going. Good, clean, alpine fun.
2010 Cune “Vina Real” Crianza (Rioja, Spain) $22
Another great red option, this is a medium-bodied wine from the famed Rioja region of Spain. Again, I was going for versatility here, so there is enough substance to satisfy most people’s desire for body and warmth with pleasant dried berry notes, a touch of spice and hints of smoke. This is balanced with a fresh minerality, some lovely earthy qualities and fine youthful tannins.
2012 Wagner Stempel Silvaner (Rheinhessen, Germany) $26
Silvaner is the grape variety here, which is a cousin of Riesling, and it retains the lovely aromatics and fruity qualities of Riesling, but with a softer acidity and a fully dry finish. Light and fresh, this wine appeals to a wide range of palettes and is very versatile with food, making it a great white to have on hand if hosting, and also a good pick for taking to someone’s house (i.e. it will work in many situations if you’re not quite sure what you’re walking into!)
St. Germain Liqueur (France) $44
No, this is not wine, I know, but I couldn’t help but think that this is such a fun alternative to show up to a party with! First off, the bottle is so beautiful that this alone makes it a great holiday party favor. The aesthetics are not the only posh detail here, though, as this liqueur is flavored with the delicate elderflower and is très Français, named for the famous and very chic neighborhood of St. Germain in Paris. It is an ultimate party accessory, as it is totally dreamy mixed simply with sparkling wine, and is also killer when mixed into vodka, gin, and brown liquor cocktails. Essentially, the liquid equivalent of the girl who can chat up anyone in the room. Try this: ice, gin, St.Germain, soda, mint, squeeze of lime, stir – done.
I hope this post will enrich and elevate your New Year’s Eve, and perhaps your wine drinking experiences down the road as well.
Happy New Year! Santé!
*All bottles available at Metrovino in Calgary, AB