Once we get past Boxing Day, our thoughts will focus on New Year’s Eve and the menu to finally say good-bye to 2020 and a welcome greeting to 2021!
Of course Champagne is synonymous with New Year’s Eve, now that Guy Lombardo and Dick Clark are a distant memory.
Champagne is widely considered to be "the" premium bubbly in the world. But I will save my choice until midnight.
To begin the New Year Celebrations, let’s pour a glass of Mumm’s Napa Brut from California ($27.49).
Its bouquet reveals a yeasty bread dough bouquet with apple fruit and honey. On the palate there’s baked apple and a squeeze of lemon with toasted nuts. Having tasted this years ago, it’s a much better sparkling wine now with it’s California roots saluting its Champagne heritage.
Serve this bubbly as a toast to the New Year Eve’s dinner as well as a match to the prawn cocktail.
Prime rib is the main course, with Yorkshire pudding and this begs a delicious Bordeaux at an affordable price, the 2016 Chateau La Gorce from the Médoc ($26.99). It’s a Cru Bourgeois from the Left Bank. La Gorce is made from the traditional Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot which allows it to be ready to drink earlier than more expensive Chateaux.
I love its dark ruby colour and its Bordeaux bouquet of licorice, cherry, plum. cassis and blackberry with vanilla, toast, and violets. The La Gorce is full bodied with flavours of black and red fruits, forest floor, and polished tannins. A classy inexpensive red for the main course, which should impress everyone at the table.
After some English Trifle, we’ll bring out the Stilton Cheese, which begs for another Bordeaux, a sweet chilled Sauternes. It’s a great buy, the 2015 Chateau d’Arman ($29.99 375 mL) made from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. This golden elixir has a gorgeous bouquet of honey and citrus and peach from botrytis (noble rot) on the grapes. Although the sweetness of 10 is at the top of the scale, it is balanced by the natural grape acid and the creamy body which produces a delicious balanced unctuous dessert wine with a long finish.
As a finale, uncork the Taittinger Brut Reserve ($64.99). To be labeled Champagne, it must be from the Champagne district northeast of Paris. Like most Champagnes, it is non-vintage which means it’s a blend of wines made from different years. Some years are better than others so by blending a variety of different vintages, Champagne producers can maintain a consistent style in their luxury wine. Customers adore consistency!
Not only is the Taittinger Brut a blend of different years, it’s also a blend of different grapes: Pinot Noir (a red), a Pinot Meunier (another red) and Chardonnay (a white). Brut means it’s a dry wine.
The Taittinger is a great buy and an elegant Champagne with a higher percentage of Chardonnay than many of its competitors. The result is restraint with its profile. Toast but not too toasty, apple and lemon fruit but not too fruity, acid but not too acidic. In other words, well balanced and refined. The bubbles are a smooth mousse which adds a kiss of creaminess, nuttiness, and minerality. Delicious!
I would save the Taittinger for midnight when we kick 2020 out the door and welcome with great expectations, 2021! Happy New Year. All of the wines reviewed are available in government liquor outlets and some private stores.