I had to work on New Year's eve, so I saved my celebration for New Year's Day. With the madness of December finally over, I had a chance to relax, and spend a little time at home with Mrs. Gilbert. I picked out a really nice bottle of Champagne to enjoy, and as absurd as it sounds, served it with our traditional New Year's Day meal of black eyed peas and cabbage.
This wine is sourced from properties all over the Champagne region, and combines all three of the Champagne grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, in almost equal proportions. The juice is comprised exclusively of the first pressing of the grapes, or the "tete de cuvee."
I'll confess that I don't have as refined a palate for sparkling wine as I do when it comes to still wines. It is more difficult for me to identify the nuances of a glass of champagne than it is a still wine, possibly due to the CO2 that the wine gives off, and the tingles it engenders on my tongue. I can pick up the broader notes, but something about the effervescence causes my taste buds a considerable amount of confusion. This has led to my adopting a celebratory rather than contemplative attitude towards sparkling wine. I try not to over-intellectualize the fizzy stuff, and instead just relax and enjoy it. That's not to say I just swill it down like a heathen, but I don't exactly pull out the tasting notebook and attempt to tease out and identify all the nuance. I'll also confess that because I don't get to drink a whole heck of a lot of Champagne, I'm not as practiced at it as I'd like to be.
In the glass it shows a lovely lemon gold with a fine bead, and creamy mousse. I always think of Champagne as being like a piano keyboard, with bass tones at one end, alto at the other, and tenor tones in the middle. This Champagne plays at the higher end of the scale, with lots of citrusy acididity. There are some mid-tones at the finish, a little toast and nuttiness. In all, it was wonderfully enjoyable, and I highly recommend it. It was an elegant way to begin what I hope is a wonderful year.
|Standing in front of Pol Roger on the Avenue des Champagnes, Epernay, in 2010