New Year’s Eve Champagne: The Three Best and Cool Talking Points

If you are like most people, you have yet to buy your bubbly for the ball drop. Not to worry: here I swoop in with the best New Year’s Eve Champagne 🍾 — two are expensive but worth it for this special night, even if you just guzzle it under the sheets. The other, an Italian sparkling wine, is actually underpriced for the quality it offers. To ensure that you thoroughly dazzle your loved ones, I supply three scintillating talking points for each bottle:

Krug Grand Cuvee - top Champagne for New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve Champagne: KRUG Brut Champagne Grande Cuvée 164ème Édition NV ($170-$190)

One of the best Krug GC’s ever: pure, apple-raisin-hazelnut complexity, deeply flavorful yet airy, with a bright, endless finish. Ready to savor now, but has the energy and acidity to improve for decades.

Talking points:

  •  In September I sat down with Olivier Krug, the sixth generation of the founKrug Champagne with dim sumding family, and he told me that his favorite all-time pairing was Krug rosé with roast pigeon during a trip to Singapore.
  • It is not a necessity, however, to enjoy such regal Champagne with elaborate food. Olivier also remembers Krug Grande Cuvée harmonizing beautifully with a simple hamburger. He revealed to me that Madonna is partial to Krug rosé with french fries, as confirmed in this tweet from the Material Girl’s official account.  For me earlier this week, a bottle of it was the ultimate uplifting co-conspirator with towers of plump, glistening har gow, porky soup dumplings, and other dim sum at New York’s Dim Sum Go Go.
  •  In my most recent book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire, I shed light on the little-known ritual of a “Champagne baptism,” which involves wetting a baby’s lips with drops of special Champagne, a Champenois tradition that Olivier’s father, Rémi, had once described to me. When we met, Olivier added more color as to how to make this chic procedure a success. His advice is to take to the hospital to two half-bottles of Champagne: one to use to dab the newborn’s lips, and the other to bribe the nurse into letting you do it.

Perrier Jouet Champagne Art Basel Miami

New Year’s Eve Champagne: PERRIER-JOUËT Brut Champagne Belle Epoque 2008 ($150-$180)

A swirl of lemon and fresh flowers emanate from the glass, followed by suggestions of ginger, pastry, and spice. Its blend of grapes dominated by the grape Chardonnay, the taste is smooth and bright, with a citric snap that shades slightly smoky on the silky, persistent finish.

Talking points:

  • As I have emphasized in my books, and as both Olivier Krug and Perrier-Jouet’s cellarmaster Hervé Deschamps have stressed to me, it is no longer preferable to use a thin, flute-shaped glass for your Champagne. While a regular wine glass (or a slightly more narrow white wine glass, if you have it) won’t showcase the bubbles as prominently as a flute, it will however provide more surface area to swirl and sniff your precious bubbly and also obviate the need for special glassware.
  • Last year at Art Basel Miami, I had the pleasure of hosting a Champagne master class with Perrier-Jouet’s Deschamps. Here the debonaire Deschamps demonstrates how you should “puff,” not pop, open Champagne to minimize bubble loss. Note that he is using a fine bottle to demonstrate: a 3L of Belle Epoque Rosé.

To save bubbles, "puff," don't pop, your #Champagne tonight, as Champagne Perrier-Jouët's Chef de Cave Hervé Deschamps demonstrated for me here (with a 3L of Belle Epoque Rosé, no less) #DrinkLikeABillionaire #NYE16 #HappyNewYear

Posted by Mark Oldman on Saturday, December 31, 2016

 

  • At this year’s Art Basel Miami, Perrier Jouet’s Eden Ball featured a private, six-song set by English singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding. She was at once ethereal and brimming with verve, herself the personification of fine Champagne. I captured this video of her performance (and you Royal watchers may notice Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie in the background cheering her on).

Ferrari Trento Brut - an Ideal Bubbly for New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve Sparkler: FERRARI Brut ($18-$24)

Like a bracing spoonful of fruit salad, this all-Chardonnay sparkler delights with notes of citrus fruits and juicy apples, joined by the subtle scent of baked bread. Delicate, racy, palate-cleansing bubbles add to the overall feel of freshness, its feathery, zesty personality all but demanding the presence of a tower of glistening shellfish.

Talking points:

  • Italian bubbles, but not our old friend Prosecco? Sì, this is a less-known category of traditionally-made bubbly from Italy’s northern, hilly Trentino region called “Trentodoc“. Even many experts have little familiarity with Trentodoc, so casually peppering this designation into your New Year’s Eve banter will make you seem like a high priest of wine knowledge.
  • Despite being a luxury good from Italy, Ferrari – the winery of Trentino – has nothing to do with the maker of pulse-quickening supercars of the same name. Although if you dare to saber your bubbly, your pulse will pound all the same.
  • Speaking of luxury, Ferrari also makes an elevated offering named after for its founder, Giulio Ferrari. For me it rates as one of the world’s best sparklers, on a par with even the finest Champagne. When I served the 2005 Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore ($125) at Thanksgiving last month, my guests moaned over its creamy, marzipan-like, honey-and-smoke personality.

another gem I broke open for Thanksgiving: Giulio Ferrari Trento Riserva del Fondatore, made in the traditional method….

Posted by Mark Oldman on Monday, November 27, 2017

A raise of the chalice 🏆 to you for 2018. May you drink like a billionaire at every price.

Ellie Goulding Art Basel Miami Perrier Jouet Eden Miami

THE JOY OF TRUFFLES (Official Truffle Music Video)

Behold, the world’s first truffle music video. White truffles – the exotic, expensive delicacy from Alba, Italy – are finally getting the MTV treatment they deserve. Join along as I offer an unforgettable homage to this knobby wonder of the mushroom world.

THE JOY OF TRUFFLES

The truffles music video was shot on location in various corners of Italy’s Piedmont region, which is tucked in the northwestern corner of Italy. Piedmont is a gastronomic goldmine, known for such dishes as the olive oil-based anchovy and garlic fondue called bagna cauda, the raw meat of carne cruda, and the thin, ribbon-like pasta called tajarin and its cousin tagliatelle. The last are the traditional vehicles for the tartufo bianco d’Alba – or white truffle of Alba – shaved vigorously on top these simple, buttered egg noodles.

Included in the video is scenes from a recent truffle hunt in a forest near the village of Barolo, as well as inside the 87th International Truffle Fair Alba and the annual International Truffle Auction.

At the auction recently, I witnessed a trio of white truffles, a total of 480 grams of the knobby mushroom perched on a velvet red pillow, be purchased by Hong Kong mogul Eugene Fung for the eye-popping sum of $87,000. Proceeds benefit a local hospital in Italy.

A TOUGH SEASON

Suffering from an unseasonably dry and hot summer and early fall, Italy’s Piedmont region has endured one of the worst seasons for white truffles on record. Prices for the coveted delicacy have accordingly doubled to at least 6000 euro per kilogram, placing it out the reach of many restauranteurs and diners.  Undaunted, Mr. Fung bid from Hong Kong via satellite link, dogfighting with other bidders for about eight minutes and ultimately emerging the winner of the enormous cluster of white gold.

If he chooses to enjoy his white truffle as it is traditionally done, he will be shaving the funky, earth fungus raw over buttered noodles or scrambled eggs, the customary vehicles for what many consider the world’s greatest culinary delicacy. So great, that is, that is not has its own truffle music video.

This model actress plays a memorable role in the truffle music video.
A shot from the truffle music video: stunning model actress holds an $85,000 truffle.

 

Thanksgiving Wine and Holiday Wine: Four Surefire Ways to Play it

Outsmarting Thanksgiving Wine with Ruche, Cali Wine, & More

The one thing that should not cause you stress this Thanksgiving is wine — that is, if you know where to look. I make Thanksgiving wine and holiday wine painless by laying out these four options.:

The Coolest Light Red: Ruchè from Piedmont, Italy

If you choose only one wine: here’s a moderately priced wine that is holiday-perfect, an insider pick that I first discovered at Danny Meyer’s soul-satifsying Marta restaurant in New York a few years ago: Ruchè (roo-kay). A light-to-medium bodied red, Ruche is versatile and goes beautifully with most foods, from light and dark meat turkey to baked ham to cranberry sauce and almost any side you bring to it. It has a wonderful, exotic red berry aroma that evokes both geraniums and black pepper, joined by a clean, refreshing, juicy taste that will invigorate everyone at your table. It is chic, fun, and light on its feet, like Pinot Noir crossed with the spirit of Isabella Rossellini.

A bonus for Ruchè is that it will shock and awe your guests as even many wine pros aren’t familiar with it, but it is available in the United States if you know where to look. Ask a good local wine merchant for it or consult Wine Searcher to see where it is closest to you.

I recently visited one of Ruche’s best producers, Crivelli in Monferrato, Italy, and talked with its owner, the cool cat Marco Crivelli, about Crivelli Ruche’s personality and the boozy origin of its label:

Buy Napa and Sonoma

In the wake of the California wildfires, Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino are open for business and needing our support. This holiday season, give thanks to the regions that have given us so much pleasure: buy Napa, buy Sonoma, buy Mendocino.  And do try to visit Northern Cali wine country in the next year.

To honor some of the wineries most damaged in the wildfires, I sourced a selection of the wines available in New York, including Frey Organic Wine, William Hill Estate, Mayacamas Vineyards, Ancient Oak Cellars, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Storybook Mountain Vineyards:

In Rachael Ray EveryDay: Mark’s Wines for Stuffing Your Face

In this month’s Rachael Ray EveryDay magazine, I supply strategies for Thanksgiving wine and holiday wine. I prefer going white and red (i.e., double-fisting it) on this most gluttonous of holidays, and also including pink bubbly and the recently released Beaujolais Nouveau in my T-day mix.

At The Daily Meal: Mark’s 10 Best People-Pleasing, No-Hassle, Thankgiving Wines Under $15

These ten wines are inexpensive, widely available, and sure to get you comfortably numb before family fights erupt.

And Remember, If Only One Wine, Go Ruchè

If you need one Thankgiving or holiday wine pick, go Ruche from Piedmont region of Italy
Chic, fun, and light on its feet, Ruchè is like Pinot Noir crossed with the spirit of Isabella Rossellini.

White Truffle Just Sold for an Astonishing $87,000

In Alba, Italy, today, I witness a white truffle sell for a price of a Range Rover Sport.

WHITE GOLD

In his rousing hit “Uptown Funk,” Bruno Mars declares, “This hit, that ice cold…Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold.”

The still-stunning screen goddess, whose Hollywood debut seared itself into pop culture the moment she stepped into that glass elevator in the movie Scarface, is not the only avatar of “white gold,” however.

The tartufo bianco d’Alba – or white truffle of Alba, Italy — is another rare commodity known as white gold. Today at the 18th administration of the World Truffle Auction in Alba, Italy, it lived up to its sobriquet. I witnessed a trio of white truffles, a total of 480 grams of the knobby mushroom perched on a velvet red pillow, be purchased by Hong Kong mogul Eugene Fung for the eye-popping sum of $87,000. Proceeds benefit a local hospital in Italy.

A TOUGH SEASON

Suffering from an unseasonably dry and hot summer and early fall, Italy’s Piedmont region has endured one of the worst seasons for white truffles on record. Prices for the coveted delicacy have accordingly doubled to at least 6000 euro per kilogram, placing it out the reach of many restauranteurs and diners.  Undaunted, Mr. Fung bid from Hong Kong via satellite link, dogfighting with other bidders for about eight minutes and ultimately emerging the winner of the enormous cluster of white gold.

If he chooses to enjoy his white truffle as it is traditionally done, he will be shaving the funky, earth fungus raw over buttered noodles or scrambled eggs, the customary vehicles for what many consider the world’s greatest culinary delicacy.

An Italian model stuns the audience with the 480 grams of white gold.

 

World’s Best Dessert Wine with a Twinkie?

Described by 90-year-old wine legend Michael Broadbent as his first ever “top wine” and featured in the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, 1937 Château d’Yquem is the world’s best dessert wine from arguably its best ever vintage. In Kingsman, Colin Firth’s character flippantly recommends to the villain played by Samuel L. Jackson that they pair “Twinkies with a 1937 Château d’Yquem”. Inspired by this exchange, I gave it a go:

Truth be told, I waited to introduce the Twinkie until there were only a few gulps of Yquem left. This is because the menu that preceded the pairing was nothing less than epic (see details below), lovingly prepared by my gastronaut friends Evan and Laura at their stunning Chelsea flat. At the table was one of America’s most generous and discerning wine collectors, who shares extraordinary wine as freely as a mother Robin doles out worms to her hatchlings. (In his company over the years, I have been fortunate to drink Yquem from 1995, 1989, 1988, 1983, and even an 1893). Of the hundreds of Yquem bottles he has tasted, his all-time favorite, he once told me, was the 1937.

So when I saw a 1937 Yquem come up at an auction last month, I pounced. This was perhaps the most illustrious single bottle I have ever invested in. Even as wine fraud becomes an ever greater concern, this particular bottle came from uncommonly clean hands — namely, those of collector Tawfiq Khoury, who is known to have purchased much of his legendary collection in the less counterfeit-happy times of 1970’s and 1980’s.

The ’37 Yquem did not disappoint. In fact, it was the most exquisite dessert wine ever to pass these lips. On first sniff, this dark-copper-colored exilir showed trademark Yquem scents of apricot and orange marmelade, joined by astonishingly delineated notes of coffee, brown sugar, and black tea. The wine also had a bracing freshness that reminded me of being on a ski slope, a compelling intensity that evoked cold air and pine needles. This minty vigor was countervailed by the taste, which was an instruction manual in unmitigated voluptuousness, extra-virgin smooth with a multifaceted finish that kept surprising the senses minutes after the wine was swallowed.  

  

THE MENU: Dom P, La T, Chateau Y, and a Twinkie

Fromage et Jambon.
Pierre Peters, Rose for Albane NV.
Dom Perignon 2002.
——
Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Figs.
Leflaive Batard Montrachet 2012.
——
Baby artichoke tartlet.
——
Sous vide Beef tenderloin with red wine sauce.
Cauliflower “mashed potatoes”.
Roasted sweet tomatoes.
Spinach Salad with chocolate tomatoes.
DRC La Tache 1996.
DRC La Tache 1959.
——
Baked Pears with honey and chocolate, yellow raspberries, and homemade marshmallows.
Chateau d’Yquem 1937.
Twinkie.