R James Mullen says cel­e­brate the New Year in style with a bona fide bot­tle of bub­bly

Thailand Tatler - - CONTENTS -

If you are go­ing to cel­e­brate this fes­tive sea­son—and why wouldn’t you—do it right, says wine buff R James Mullen. Push the boat out and raise a toast with a bot­tle of vin­tage cham­pagne

ot an ex­tra 10,000 to 15,000 baht in your pocket and look­ing to re­ward your­self for suc­cess­fully nav­i­gat­ing the va­garies of an­other year? Try putting a pos­i­tive spin on the New Year with a touch of lux­ury in the form of a toast with a glass of vin­tage cham­pagne. That bead of fine bub­bles and en­er­vat­ing com­plex­ity will surely set the tone for a sea­son of suc­cess.

Vin­tage cham­pagne is wine made from grapes of ex­cep­tional qual­ity picked and blended in the same year. The wine is then aged a min­i­mum of three years be­fore be­ing sold, with some houses (winer­ies) hold­ing the wine as long as seven or eight years be­fore re­lease. This ex­tra age­ing, cou­pled with lim­ited pro­duc­tion, adds to prices that are of­ten four times that of their non-vin­tage coun­ter­parts. Non-vin­tage cham­pagne which con­sti­tutes about 85 per cent of some 320 mil­lion bot­tles pro­duced an­nu­ally is a blend of grapes from two or three dif­fer­ent years to fa­cil­i­tate a con­sis­tent style from each house. Age­ing is lim­ited to 18 months for most non-vin­tages be­fore reach­ing the mar­ket.

Price and avail­abil­ity def­i­nitely limit the oc­ca­sions on which vin­tage cham­pagne is opened but crit­ics agree that sub­tle hints of ap­ple and yeast en­hanced by nat­u­ral ef­fer­ves­cence make it com­pat­i­ble with a mul­ti­tude of foods, not to men­tion spe­cial events. Best known among dozens of in­ter­na­tion­ally dis­trib­uted vin­tage brands is Dom Perignon from the house of MoetHen­nessey owned by Louis Vuit­ton. Along with Tait­tinger Comtes De Cham­pagne, Krug Vin­tage, Roed­erer Cristal and Per­rier Jouet Belle Epoque, among a few oth­ers, these are vin­tage wines in the pres­tige cat­e­gory, ow­ing to ad­di­tional bot­tle age­ing be­yond the re­quired three years.

To savour the mo­ment of any of these vin­tage wines chill for at least an hour be­fore open­ing and have an ice bucket on hand to main­tain the tem­per­a­ture through­out your cel­e­bra­tion. As al­ways use cau­tion when open­ing by hold­ing a towel over the cork as you re­move the wire en­clo­sure. Hold the cork while turn­ing the bot­tle slowly un­til the pres­sure hisses from the bot­tle with­out pop­ping out and los­ing not only ef­fer­ves­cence but also likely a glass of plea­sure in the foam.

Fi­nally, max­i­mum en­joy­ment of the sub­tle bou­quet of the wine is dif­fi­cult to per­ceive if the tra­di­tional slen­der flutes are used. In­stead try a stan­dard 350ml tulip-shape wine glass, which all of the top cham­pagne wine­mak­ers use, and en­joy the full ex­tent of your spe­cial treat to your­self. Santé!

AIM FOR THE FIZZ A bot­tle of vin­tage cham­pagne is the best way to add sparkle to a spe­cial cel­e­bra­tion

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