What to serve for New Year’s Eve for the big moment? By now you must have realized that my Bride is a creature of habit, and when she finds something that she likes, she keeps going back, but it does not make it fun, if you are writing a wine blog. She wanted to see what was out there and we went to our local purveyor of wine The Fine Wine Source in Livonia and they had a couple of sparkling wines to try, since the day was coming. I have to admit that they greet me when I enter, but it is my Bride that gets all the attention, after all she is the Exchequer of the Realm and the one that will really let the purse strings loosen when she finds a wine that makes her excited.
We started off with a tasting of G.H. Mumm Grand Cordon Brut NV, a famous Champagne house in Reims, France. This is the wine that keeps the company afloat, most of the time, the wine is Non-Vintage, but they even declare a vintage year periodically for this wine as well. This is their signature wine that they try to maintain a consistency year after year, decade after decade, and then at the top of the heap they also offer Cuvée R. Lalou. The three varietals that are used to make this wine are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier and it is grown on their estate and they also have long time contracts with growers to maintain the taste that they strive for. They maintain three hundred base wines from a hundred different Cru vineyards to keep that consistency. This signature wine that is non-vintage still requires twenty months in their cellar to age, before it can be released. Over the years I have had some great Champagnes, but it is not the first wine that I go for, as I find that some Brut designations are just too dry for me, but this wine has enough of that “brioche” and yeast mix that I have come to expect from a good bottle of bubbles. The next wine that we tasted from the chilled bin was Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut NV. They began shipping Champagne to England in 1811 and they were a pioneer in Champagne: one of the first houses to label bottles with the year of vintage, and it was one of the first to make Champagne in the dry brut style. The latter was introduced in 1856, because of the English palate of the time; previously Champagnes had been made with high levels of added sugar or dosage. After their success with brut Champagne, other houses began to release their own brut wines, and now that is the normal style found in Champagne. They have one-hundred-sixty-one acres of vineyards each meticulously growing either Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier, though the signature of the house is a more Chardonnay floral leaning wine. The base wines are aged in the chalk cellars for at least three years before they are released and this wine delivered again what I expected from a classic French Champagne. We were just going to make our decision when they brought out a third bubbly for us to try and one that was not on the tasting sheet. They poured us some Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque 2011, which was fifty percent Chardonnay, forty-five percent Pinot Noir and five percent Pinot Meunier. This wine also had the luxury of having over six years of aging in their cellars before release. This wine had a wonderfully long finish, but we decided that it was not the taste that most of the guests would expect from a Champagne and I really feel that this is the problem that the great houses face when they declare a vintage. We decided to go with the Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut NV and there was only a glassful that was left at the end of the night. We have had some nights in the past where the almost full glass was just left on the tables at the end of the evening. I think that part of it is, because French Brut is not as dry as American Brut. At least that is my story and I am sticking with it.