Leaving aside, for the moment, the indisputable fact that tobacco isn’t as popular as it used to be (the reasons for which have no need of being repeated here), the twenty-first century is hardly devoid of connoisseurs eager to set aflame a finely wound Cuban cigar when the right occasion arises. And what could be a better occasion than the upcoming New Year’s Eve, a time when upbeat outdoor and indoor festivities would seem to call for a Cohiba or two? But, would it surprise you to learn that Scotch and brandy are scarcely the only types of alcoholic beverages that have a tendency to pair well with cigars? In fact, believe it or not champagne, among other types of sparkling wines, can serve as an excellent accompaniment to that set of cigars you might have been saving for a special occasion. The reason? Evidently, according to our sources, the inherent flavour profile of tobacco would appear to have a natural affinity for being paired with white wines that sparkle; and the ethereal delicacy of many types of champagne lend themselves incredibly well to only enhancing the enjoyment of as fine a premium Cuban cigar as a Cohiba – La Línea, Clásica, Maduro, or otherwise. More importantly, like all other premium products, there are certain recommended guidelines to follow when deciding on what specific champagne is best paired with what specific type of cigar. As a general rule, it would stand to reason that lighter-styled champagnes, or ones with a greater focus on finesse and style than richness and intensity, ought to be paired with cigars of a more delicate and elegant disposition, perhaps even a cigar of smaller size. Alternatively, for more powerful types of champagne (from top cuvées to the most prestigious vintages) your best bet would be probably to seek out cigars with greater assertiveness and longevity, not to mention ones boasting a larger dimension. And if you have a few champagne and cigar-loving friends to share these with, so much the better. After all, what is the celebration of a New Year without a little company?
By: Liz Palmer and Julian Hitner
[of Top 100 Cellar Selections]
Henriot 1996 Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut $185. With all the extreme intensity of this vintage, this wine brings even more. The start of cookie yeast and toast character, a vibrant mineral texture, hints of spice, green herbs and a final white peach flavor. It is still young, just keep aging. Imported by Henriot Inc.
Moët & Chandon 1996 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque Brut $385. A magnificent Champagne, one that is light, delicate, yet packed with character. It is beautifully balanced, with a bone-dry character, just softened by the toastiness that is developing. Expect this to age for many years. Imported by Moët Hennessy USA.
Bollinger 1997 RD Brut $260. Disgorged in 2009, this is a toasty wine, rich and concentrated. The idea of long aging before disgorging the yeast cells is to build up the unique complexity of the wine. In this Bollinger has succeeded magnificently. An opulent wine, with aging potential for 10 years or more. Imported by Terlato Wines International.
Krug 1998 Clos du Mesnil $1,400. A wine that has created its own universe. It has a unique, special softness that allies with the total purity that comes from a small, enclosed single vineyard. The fruit is almost irrelevant here, because it comes as part of a much deeper complexity. This is a great wine, at the summit of Champagne, a sublime, unforgettable experience. Imported by Moët Hennessy USA.
In choosing Champagne for 2010 celebrations the amount of dosage added after the second fermentation as well as aging dictates the sweetness level of Champagne. The label sets out the level of sweetness as follows:
• Brut Natural or Brut Zéro (less than 3 grams of sugar per liter)
• Extra Brut (less than 6 grams of sugar per liter)
• Brut (less than 15 grams of sugar per liter) [most popular]
• Extra Sec or Extra Dry (12 to 20 grams of sugar per liter)
• Sec (17 to 35 grams of sugar per liter)
• Demi-sec (33 to 50 grams of sugar per liter)
• Doux (more than 50 grams of sugar per liter)
Champagne should be served in a flute-shaped glass. The stem allows you to hold the glass without affecting the temperature of the Champagne. The bowl is designed to retain carbonation, by reducing the surface area at the opening of the bowl. Champagne is to be served between 43 to 48°F (7°C). In this range the smell and taste of the wine can be fully appreciated.
Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne
Monet & Chandon Imperial Champagne
Pol Roger Brut Champagne
Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut Champagne
MY WISHES FOR YOU FOR 2010
Is for you to have
12 Months of Happiness;
52 Weeks of Fun;
365 Days of Success;
8760 Hours of Good Health;
52600 Minutes of Good Luck, and
3153600 Seconds of Joy.