Elin McCoy's Wine of the Week
NV Taittinger Prélude Brut
Region: Champagne, France
Grape: 50 percent chardonnay, 50 percent pinot noir
Serve: With caviar, salted nuts, or my favorite, popcorn laced with truffle oil
If there’s one holiday that calls for a bottle of champagne, it’s New Year’s Eve. Even if you feel like bidding good riddance to 2010, who doesn’t have hopes for 2011? That’s worth uncorking a bottle of France’s top bubbly. I’ll be opening up Taittinger’s lovely, stylish “Prélude” as I watch the ball drop and make a few toasts (and silent wishes).
Somewhere, some sourpuss of a wine lover may be thinking that popping the cork on a pricey fizz at midnight while wearing a funny paper hat is a waste of effervescence. I disagree; I want to start the New Year with a bang, a nose-tickling scent of citrus and smoke, a cascade of fine bubbles, and a tart, clean, lingering finish.
If the bottle isn’t finished by the time the revelry is over, champagne keeps remarkably well if stoppered (with a dedicated champagne stopper), and kept chilled.
There’s no better use for leftover champagne than to kick up fresh-squeezed orange juice at a New Year’s Day brunch.
Taittinger is one of the classic “houses” or producers in the Champagne district, and makes around 5 million bottles a year. Founded in the 18th century, it was family owned until it (and associated businesses) were sold off in 2005 to a private equity firm.
A year later, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger bought back the champagne house for his branch of the family. Like most of the region’s producers, Taittinger has a range of bottlings, from basic brut, vintage, and rosé to its very expensive tête de cuvée Comtes de Champagne. The house specializes in those made entirely from chardonnay, but Prélude skillfully blends recent vintages of both pinot noir and chardonnay from grand crus vineyards (many owned by the firm) to create a fizz that shows both elegance and complexity. It’s my idea of what should be in my flute on Dec. 31.
Zester Daily contributor Elin McCoy is a wine and spirits columnist and author of “The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste.”