Champagne, wines, and liquors of Christmas 2018!

As we are getting into the season to be merrier and we will just hit the last weekend before Christmas , its time for me to come to you with some juices or the best for the season.

In my family, we have a tradition that we will keep even if one strong pillar of it is missing physically of sharing drinks, old and creating new ones, all with food all at home and with moderation ,never a problem.  So, therefore, let me give some last minute ideas from France (the root of it all) , that I believe can be adjusted to wherever you are for the holidays. Beware some of these bottles may not be available where you are but from the readings they should be easily replace with something locally available! Another thing, all of the below suggestions have been tried by myself or a trusted family member of the same line of tastes as I.

To accompany a festive fish, a poultry, seafood or for the aperitif, here is my selection of Champagnes at good value for money

With a nice cheese platter: Its graceful bubble, its slightly stewed fruit aromas will flatter the hard pasta. You’ll enjoy its refreshing finale. Coeur des Bar, Blanc de noirs, Champagne Devaux, 32€

With pineapple chicken skewers: This organic champagne with fine bubbles has a mineral frame. Very pure, it can support the associations of sweet and savoury feasts and bring freshness to these duets daring. Cuvée Brut bio, Champagne Duval-Leroy, 28€

With a creamy poultry: Its green-tinted dress announces the plant partition. White, hawthorn-acacia flowers, allied with roasted notes, hug each other in the nose. Mineral and frankly lemon, this champagne is lively. Propose it with creamy dishes to give the reply to the smoothness. Fleur de Craie, Blanc de blancs Champagne Bolieu, 21€

For an iodized appetizer: Ideal to accompany a cocktail of iodized feasts based on smoked salmon, fish eggs and crustaceans, this lively champagne has flavors of yellow fruits such as peach and apricot. Champagne Pannier, Brut selection,25.90€

With Christmas dinner: This low-dose champagne is complex and greedy. You will find a slight toast, notes of white fruit and even a hint of honey. Champagne Mandois, Brut Origine, 30€

With a bar filet in salt crust: This winemaker’s champagne in the pale yellow robe has fine bubbles and a bouquet reminiscent of acacia and fresh butter. The whole is aerial and delicate. Perfect with fish. Champagne Sanger, Terroir Natal, Blanc de blancs, 24€

With foie gras toast: Its bouquet flowers citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, but also very lightly pear. Fresh and well-balanced, this champagne has tenderly brioche notes. Beaumont des Crayères, Grande Réserve Brut, 25,70 €

With a stuffed young rooster with morels: In the nose, this champagne has pretty gourmet notes of vanilla, honey and roasted summer fruits. Complex, it is supported by its minerality. The dishes of character, with the flavors of undergrowth, have its preferences. Champagne Yves Jacques, 23.50€

With a dessert : Its dress is pink with coppery reflections and a string of fine bubbles. Intense, its bouquet develops aromas of rose, fruits of the wood and even of blood orange. To enjoy in the company of a red fruit log or a macaroon. Cuvée La Douce Folie, rosé Brut, Champagne La Borderie, 35€

With spice-marinated prawns: The white flowers and the notes of cut grass that this champagne develops are well-married with spicy dishes. But we also appreciate its gourmet amplitude in the palate. Champagne Philippe Gonet, Réserve Brut, 24€

To accompany a festive fish, a poultry, seafood or for the aperitif, here is my selection of white wines at good value for money.

With a stuffed poultry: The chardonnay cultivated on a limestone terroir gives a cuvée in the nose of stone with shotgun. Very complex, this wine offers a hint of grilled and exotic notes. A dense white that generously rugs the palate. Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune, Lucien & Fanny Rocault, 10,90€

With a seafood platter: The Domaine Romy cultivates 25 hectares of vineyards in the extreme south of Burgundy. This floral cuvée comes from a plot of 4 hectares surrounded by a clos. Raised on fine lees for 6 months, this finely toasted cru will appreciate the flesh of crustaceans. Clos de la Chapelle 2016, Domaine Romy, AOP Bourgogne, 10€

With a fried foie gras: In homage to the goddess Sirona who watches over the river Ciron (responsible for creating the morning mists conducive to the appearance of Botrytis on the grapes), this cuvée 100% semillon is golden. We appreciate its balance between the white flowers, the quince and its vivacity. Sirona 2015, Les Vignerons de Tutiac, Sauternes, 15€

With a bar fish in salt crust: Mineral and focused on white flowers, this white wine offers a very representative extract of the typicités of its grape. With the fish but also with the goat cheese, it gives the replica. Domaine des Crêts, Climat “En Bout” 2015, Mâcon-Chardonnay, 14,70€

With a risotto with crustaceans: Products with the Aligoté grape variety, the wines of the appellation Bouzeron possess material. It is named after an assemblage of 3 plots; The nails, the tower, the Cordères. A hint of hazelnut, acacia blossoms, a note of stone and citrus flavours stand out at the palate. Les Trois 2013, Maison Chanzy, Bouzeron, 14,50€

With a stew of Lotte: Assemblage of Grenache Blanc, Rolle and Roussanne, this organic white is subtly woody. In the heart of the Alpilles, Mas de Gourgonnier is an environmentally friendly family winery. Reserve du Mas, Mas de Gourgonnier, AOP Les Baux-de-Provence, 12.60€

With a goat dung : This 100% Rolle high six months on fine lees in barrel has a pale dress. His light toast comes to underline the finesse of citrus fruits. A balanced wine to be tasted with simplicity. Vallon Sourn 2017, Les Vignerons de Correns, 11,50€

with roasted scallops: This sweet white fruit nose reveals a zest of citrus. It gives him freshness and pep. Perfect with scallops with aromatic herbs. Château de Rouquette 2013, Loupiac, 10.50€

With a sea bream with fennel : Her dress is shiny and her nose lemon. Oscillating between roundness and freshness this white of the Haut-Var is perfect in the company of the iodine dishes. Terres de Berne 2016, Côtes de Provence, 15€

With salmon : Very fine, this white wine has exotic notes of pineapple. Ample to the palate, it evokes the ripe fruits. He will know how to be subtle and discreet in the company of character dishes like smoked salmon. Vita Bella, Château La Mascaronne, Côtes de Provence 15€

Very well choose your digestif for your Christmas meals. This is the drink after the meal families here enjoy, less often in restaurant but in special family meals we still do. Spirits (eaux-de-vie) are liquors obtained by distilling wine, marc, cider or fruit. There are also numerous fruit spirits, alcohols derived from the fermentation of smashing fruit: cherries, mirabelles, plums or berries and obtained by distillation. What about fruit liqueurs? They come from a maceration or an infusion of fresh fruit .

So which ones to choose ? These are the spirits of wine or cider, type Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados which are the most sought-after consumers in the holiday season. While brandies or fruit. liqueurs would be more regional winks or would act as nice gifts This is according to the cellar master of the Galeries Lafayette Paris. It is better to have 2 to 3 references of digestifs to propose to your guests. The holidays, at home, are the opportunity to enjoy nice products as long as you do not take risks.

To second the good advise from Galeries Lafayette, here are some I have tried that are super! Maison Dudognon, Vieille réserve, Cognac. This small family house develops in all discretion a cognac of high quality, very balanced thanks to an exemplary outfit of the vines and a flawless ageing. Price France 48€. Château de Lacquy, Bas Armagnac 1995 ; the château de Lacquy is a traditional armagnac,who did not give in to the sirens of the white Ugni Blanc to favor the Baco, which gives it a lot of class. Price France 79€.

Let’s have a break from drinking and propose a nice gift idea for the Holiday and those in the mood. These folks I have followed for many years , lost count, always good notes and the book is a classic. One of my all time favorite wine experts Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson with their book World Atlas of Wine, publisher Flammarion,in France price 45€

And to finish this post ,a bit on those wonderful bubblies at little price that are coming strong all over and France will not be left behind. The Cremants and one of my favorite region Bordeaux. They can be an exceptional quality/value purchase for the Holidays!

With 80 million bottles sold in 2018, in constant increase of 5 to 7% in the last ten years, Crémant is present in eight appellations: Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Die, Jura, Limoux, Loire, and Savoie. Today, it manages in blind tastings to compete with Champagne and is particularly distinguished by its varietals and a different terroir. For Crémant, the minimum duration between circulation and marketing is 9 months, compared with 15 for Champagne and… one month for prosecco!; produced with faster and cheaper methods, this Italian wine extends in all markets: the harvest is mechanical and not manual as for Crémant, and the second alcoholic fermentation, which produces the effervescence, is made in vats and not in Bottle as required by the traditional method. For the last five years, the figures for Crémant de Bordeaux have exploded: 1,200 hectares, or 50% more in two years; 75,000 hectolitres foreseen this year, which is five times more than in the early 2010’s. In 2017, 20% of Bordeaux’s annual sales had taken place during the year-end celebrations. With an average price of between 6 and 10 euros, Crémant is mainly sold in large distribution and 20% exported, especially to northern Europe, but also to Japan and the United States, the world’s first sparkling wine market.  The Crémants has exploded with an increase in sales year to year of + 29% by volume and 35% in value between October 2017 and October 2018); to be served very cold between 6-7C (43-44F), they go well with aperitifs to desserts, especially with seafood, white meats or sushis.

Some of my bottles that had in the last couple of years are from names such as Bulles de Lalande-labatut, Domaine de Grava Jaillance, Chateau Turcaudn Charme d’Aliénor, Lateyron, Fleur de Rauzan, Domaine du Cheval Blanc , Jean-Louis Ballarin, Domaine de Laubertrie, and Grangeneuve. The ones to bring up as my best experiences were from Ballarin and Lateyron, their webpages are here:

Crémants of Lateyron

Crémants of Ballarin

For further dwelling into this fascinating world see below the two webpage, the first one is the Bordeaux wine council on crémants and the second one is the appellations of Bordeaux and specific the section on Crémants.

Bordeaux wine council on Crémants

Planet Bordeaux on territories and Crémants

Just go and ask your local wine merchant, cellar or distributor, to know the availability of these wonders of our world, and enjoy them fully with moderation of course! Merry Christmas to all !!!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

PS And I could not leave without leaving some pictures of the bubblies been able to take photos and some like the Pommery and Pol Roger will be on for this Christmas 2018 in our house. You are welcome!!

 

 

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