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Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year’s Eve 2013-2014

My mood, for some reason, definitely calls for some of my favorite French songs today - and right now it’s a duet by Francoise Hardy and Etienne Daho, and I could listen to this song over and over (in fact, sometimes I do).  It’s something I love listening to when times are good.

I’m so glad the holiday season is over at last and it’s time to return to normalcy - eating healthier, more time for exercise, working on some of my wine resolutions (that’s probably going to get some coverage this year, because I chose some good ones - I’ll tell you about them), and just getting back on track.  Christmas can be wonderful but most of us I’m sure can agree that it can be a stressful and insanely busy time of year.  I’ve got some really fun wine events to look forward to in the near future which I’ll tell you all about when I attend them.

Anyway, the New Year’s resolutions pertaining to wine are these:
(1) I’m going to invest plenty of time into exploring German wines.  I’ve been enjoying good quality German wines for the past couple of years now, but as more are becoming available and I’ve been liking them more and more, I’ve decided it would be a good idea to learn as much about them as I can.  They’re just so pure and expressive and delicious and fascinating to me, I can’t help but want to make them a bigger part of my wine racks (which are almost exclusively French at this point, and some Italian, and not much else).
(2) I need to spend some more time on Tuscany.  I’m always having fun learning more about wines form Sicily, Sardegna, Campagna, Basilicata, Puglia, and of course Piemonte, and lately it feels like I spend almost no time on Tuscany.  Strange?  Yes.
(3) I’m currently searching for good quality Rioja, but there’s a catch - I tend to get nosebleeds very often and always have.  And I don’t care much for big, huge, bold wines.  So I need really well balanced Rioja that shows more soil type in its mineral notes other than just iron overload.  When I get to the finish of a taste of Rioja and only sense the iron, it tastes an awful lot like a bloody nose.
(4) Champagne is expensive.  It’s really good and I love snooping around for grower Champagnes, but right now I’m curious to hunt down some fun Cremant from all around France that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and still shows really well and varies tremendously based on grape and region.  Who wouldn’t love fun, good quality, inexpensive bubbles from France, anyway?
(5) I will freely admit that in terms of wine (and in terms of other things too), I’m a europhile.  I love the Old World way of doing things, especially wine - I have a special devotion to South West France, as you already know by now I’m sure, and I drink mostly French wines.  I also drink plenty of Italian wine, I’ve been spending more time on Germany and Austria, and occasionally Spanish, Portuguese, and when I can find some, Croatian.  And now I think it’s time I spend a little more energy on finding some great American wines from small producers.  I don’t want that overextracted, concentrated, big stuff at 14.9% alcohol - no, not that.  I’m talking about expressive, terroir driven American wines.  I told a friend recently that my concern with many American wines (aside from price and in many cases quality) is actually that when I talk to someone in the American wine industry, the winery brags about who its winemaker is.  In a place such as Burgundy (just an example), the domaine would rather brag about which vineyard they sourced their grapes from.  That’s because you should be able to identify the wine by its grape and region, its own identity, and not the identity of its winemaker.  At least that’s the way I see it.  So I’d like to find more than just a few American wines whose producers embrace the terroir/grape type/identity of the wine, and allow the wine to tell its own story.

Enough about resolutions.  How about - what did we drink on New Year’s Eve?  (And I’d love to hear what you drank too!)

The 1999 Salon Le Mesnil was lovely.  It was my first experience with Salon actually.  I’ve eyed bottles of it year in and year out in Champagne sections of good wine shops, but it was finally time.  The soft golden hue of the wine and the beautiful bubbles were so perfect.  The aromas and flavors differed from each other - the aromas reflected an almost honeyed and toasted characteristic, some mature floral notes and a touch of Madagascar vanilla, and caramelized apple.  On the palate, it was more zesty and lively, while still majestic and slightly reserved.  It was the kind of Champagne that you need to allow to approach you on its own terms, in subtle layers of aroma and flavor and texture, and reflect on it throughout the experience, lest you forget the subtleties as each stage and layer of the Champagne comes and goes.

The 2007 Roederer Rose was great - it’s a bright salmon pink color and bursts in the glass.  It’s energetic and electric in its personality, with plenty of acidity that certainly woke my palate up late in the evening (check out the blurry photo and you’ll have a better idea of how much fun I had) - and a bright and fun Champagne like this is a great pairing with - go figure - the New Year’s Honeymooners Marathon.  Yes.  Anyway, there’s plenty of white citrus and lemon, tart red berry, barely ripened strawberry, and some green apple in the nose and palate with this Champagne, it’s mouthwatering, and it’s just a fun yet sophisticated bubbly wine from a very dependable producer.  What’s not to love?

Cheers to 2014 and all the fun wines it brings!

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