From Nick Adams MW
With all that has gone on, and is happening now, you may well be planning a New Year’s Eve dinner party at home with a small group of close friends and/or family. In this case I thought a blog on options and ideas for that event may be of interest. And I have decided that it is a time for a treat and am letting the wines take the lead and menu options follow (rather than the other way round).
And we kick off with Champagne – maybe no surprise – and to an absolute classic the Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV. This is for two main reasons. One, it is simply an outstanding Champagne – up there with any other houses Brut NV, but also because it includes up to 40% of older “Réserve” wines in the blend it gives you the option to have a glass as an aperitif, then another with the starter, particularly if that is fish based. With its toasty, honeyed richer style it will match with any canapé you serve but also with any fish dish – including smoked fish and richer, oilier fishes. In addition, it will complement any vegetarian starter dish and even soups should you decide. And – of course – crack another bottle at midnight to see in 2022.
If you don’t fancy carrying the bubbles forward into the meal, then a classic dry white wine is your other best option. Now you might think I was about to head straight to Burgundy, but no – the Louro do Bolo Valdeorras Godello from Rafael Palacios from Galicia, northwest Spain.
I don’t say this lightly but if I had to put my money on what is the finest quality to price dry white wine in the whole wine Trust portfolio this would be it. What a wine – and if you like white Burgundy this is also right up your street. Made from the Godello grape this a barrel fermented and lees aged example with the most wonderful intensity of fleshy stone and citrus fruits – another perfect food match to those mentioned above.
For the main course I have looked at three options – Red, White, and Rosé.
G.D. Vajra are one of the finest Barolo producers and their Barolo le Albe Cuvée is more forward and approachable when young. And the 2016 is the finest vintage release they have made for many years. 100% Nebbiolo, this is full bodied but elegant, rich, and textural with persistent notes of cherry liqueur, red and black berries, and an elevated floral bouquet. Perfect match for any red meat or game dishes you might be planning.
If you are planning lighter, whiter meats or fish then the Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay is an ideal partner. Made in the Burgundian barrel fermented manner the Chardonnay is sourced from their cool climate Adelaide Hills vineyards in South Australia. Textural and refined, there are bright notes of ripe orchard and stone fruits, subtle vanilla oak, and fine acidity.
Regarding vegetarian dishes there is of course nothing to stop enjoying the two wines above. For example, the Barolo would work well with a wild mushroom risotto. But I often think that a dry, fuller bodied rosé works especially well with richer and maybe char-grilled vegetables and if tomato is included. The Provence Rock Angel from Château d’Esclans is a serious example of this. Based on old vine Grenache this wine has bold summer red berry fruits, a touch of aniseed and refreshing acidity – quite creamy and textural it balances most vegetable dishes very well – also a consideration for fish such as Sea Trout and Salmon.
Onto Desserts (and/or Cheese if you do the continental savoury before sweet approach).
I have gone for the sweet wine first and an absolute belter – the world class Vin de Constance from Klein Constantia in South Africa. Made in Constantia from 100% late harvested Muscat grapes, which are then barrel fermented and aged. This incredibly concentrated and exuberant wine has notes of citrus peel, soft spices, and elderflower. Sweet and rich but perfectly balanced – a wonderful hedonistic style. And importantly highly adaptable to a whole cross section of desserts including fruit based, meringues, and even caramelised elements. Serve well chilled.
And for the cheeseboard the traditional accompaniment Port, which also can be enjoyed as an after-dinner drink too. As championed in previous blogs and newsletters I am still going for Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas 2002 Vintage Port. Not too sweet, full bodied, plums and cherry liqueur, liquorice – incredibly smooth and long in flavour. Please do decant as mentioned before and if you have already decanted for Christmas Day this will keep comfortably until New Year’s Eve in the decanter so you can sip and savour.
Whatever you are doing have a very enjoyable New Year’s Eve and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2022!