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New Year’s Bubblies for a Splurge and Splash

by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
December 19, 2008


These vintage gems, listed in descending order, are quite a treat and really deserve some light savory accompaniment if you’re serving them as your midnight toast. Don’t just sip them, really savor them. All would go well with your New Year’s dinner, too.

Louis Roederer Champagne Label

2000 Roederer Brut Vintage ($70)

Village: Reims; Blend: 66% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay; Style: Vintage line.

Notes: A fantastic vintage wine from the house of Roederer, famed for high-end Cristal. Super creamy with bright acidity that sings and lingers. An impressive wine with a lot of complexity and layers of characters. Ripe citrus, cooked yellow fruits including quince. Super long finish. Lovely!

Retailer: Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits, 212-838-7500.

Delamotte Brut label

1999 Delamotte Blanc de Blancs ($123)

Village: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger; Blend: 100% Chardonnay; Style: Blanc de blancs.

Notes: Considering Delamotte’s shared vineyards and management with its über prestigious sister brand, Salon, you can count on the quality. A great expression of Le Mesnil Chardonnay.

Retailer: 67 Wine & Spirits, 212-724-6767.

Henri Giraud Ay Grand Cru

1999 Henri Giraud Cuvée Fût de Chêne Aÿ Grand Cru ($275)

Village: Aÿ; Blend: 70% Pinot d’Aÿ, 30% Chardonnay; Style: Prestige Cuvée.

Notes: Deep, bright, amber in tone. I don’t normally go for big Pinot-driven champagnes, but this one really caught my fancy. Grand Cru Aÿ grapes aged in oak barrels for 18 months result in what I call a “wine wine.” I enjoyed it with a lobster salad and frites with béarnaise sauce. A voluptuous experience.

Retailer: Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits, 212-838-7500.

1995 Henriot Brut label

1995 Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut ($115)

Village: Reims; Blend: 52% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir; Style: Prestige Cuvée.

Notes: A rich, toasty wine with beautiful acidity that comes mid-palate. Layers of mushrooms, toasted nuts, ripe yellow fruits. The nine years of ageing on lees really show in the complexity.

Retailer: Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits, 212-838-7500.

1990 Pommery Cuvée Louise ($135)

Village: Reims; Blend: 64% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir; Style: Prestige Cuvée.

Notes: 1990 is one of my favorite vintages. It’s drinking well now, so now’s the time to have it. I had this top-of-the-line wine from the house of Pommery with steak. An ideal pairing as this mature, nutty wine has enough weight and acidity to cut through the rich flavors. Who says champagne can’t be paired with meat?

Retailer: JJ Buckley Fine Wines, 510-632-5500.


1. John Maeda — Most riveting and relaxed speaker I’ve heard. A great mind.

2. Maira Kalman’s Cake and Champagne Party — A spread of 30 mocha cream cakes lining a very, very long white-clothed table at the post-reading party for Maira Kalman’s latest The Principles of Uncertainty at the New York Public Library. A magical New York moment or a Maira moment (which is magical in itself)? (NB: I just realized this moment was in Oct 2007, which says something about my ability to keep track of events in my head. I’m keeping it on this list for how vivid it’s been in my memory).

3. Tyler Brûlé —The return of his column, “The Fast Lane,” in the FT. Spot on regarding the world of cosmopolitan, high-end living and service (esp. hotels and airlines). The Dec. 13th -14th club sandwich piece sums it up; if a reputable hotel can’t even deliver a “correct” club, no point having any expectations beyond that.

4. Blue Mountain Coffee — Tasting and learning about this coffee varietal at the source in Jamaica. Kudos to the perfect balance of acidity and dark flavors.

5. Canadian Wine Country — Favorite newly-discovered wine region. So impressive and still a hidden gem. Okanaga and Niagra-on-the-Lake rock, not only for the consistency and quality of the wines, but also for the cuisine and scenery.

6. Dan Barber’s Foie Gras Story — Best story about an unbelievable sustainable foie gras producer in Spain. Dan is a mesmerizing storyteller.

7. Keith Jarrett & Pina Bausch — Two must-see performances to complete my year. Jarrett’s concerts take impromptu jazz to another level, and Bausch takes rhythm, repetition, movement, banality, humor, violence, and beauty and rolls them into one outstanding stage piece, year after year.

8. Kazuko’s Memorial — A rarity. Best known for her bold crystal jewelry, her memorial at Carnegie Hall this past January opened with Mitsuko Uchida on the piano. Scenes were shown from Robert Frank films in which she had appeared as well as a clip from the “Like a Virgin” video in which Madonna wore a long lace veil of Kazuko’s design. It was a celebration of her creative life with many readings of her e-mails filled with her unlimited energy and desire to connect creative minds. An exceptional being that leaves her design and spirit behind.

9. MSM — Woke me up and continues to motivate me. This one is just for MSM.

10. Man on Wire — Mind-blowing documentary on a man’s determination to walk on a tight rope between the Twin Towers. What an inspiration! When you walk out of the theater, you’ll think, “What’s stopping me?!”

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