December 9, 2018
Planning a holiday party can be stressful, but your wine selections don’t have to be
Take our advice and everyone will be talking about your party all of 2019. Don’t worry about having a fully stocked bar. You aren’t a restaurant. Pick two beers of differing styles (maybe a Wheat Beer and an IPA—local is best), and the basics behind the bar. Vodka, Gin and Whiskey with the standard mixers (soda, tonic, ginger ale and some citrus) and you’re set.
As for the wine... Champagne is synonymous with celebration, but can quickly break the bank. Crémant is the way to go. Champagne carries such a high price tag because (as with Bourbon) it must come from a delineated area within France, the Champagne region. It also has some of the strictest laws within France and must be aged for a certain amount of time. Crémant also comes from France, but from outside the Champagne region. It is often made with the same grapes of Champagne, and is aged for the same amount of time, but is a much better value. Crémants can come from basically anywhere in France, but our favorites come from Alsace, Jura, Loire and Burgundy. Right now, I’m loving Agnes Paquet’s Crémant de Bourgogne made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Aligote and Gamay.
IN ADDITION TO SOME BUBBLY, THE CRU RECOMMENDS TWO WHITES AND TWO REDS, A LIGHT- AND FULL-BODIED EXAMPLE OF EACH.
When I think of a light white wine, my mind typically goes to Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc. Sancerre from the Loire Valley of France is well-known, but again can carry a higher price tag. A great substitute would be a Bordeaux Blanc, made with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon (the same grapes that make the famous Sauternes but fermented into a dry-style of wine). Château Ducasse is made without oak, so the wine is bright and full of lemon.
For a fuller-bodied wine, Chardonnay would typically be the way to go. For an example of an oaked Chardonnay, Hubert Lamy and his wines from the Côte de Beaune of Burgundy is one of our favorite producers of the moment. For an unoaked version, try a Chardonnay from Chablis, an area in northern Burgundy where wine is typically fermented in steel, and if it sees any oak, it’s typically old and/or neutral. Domaine Bernard Defaix and Domaine Daniel Dampt are two wonderful examples of Chablis.
Now on to the reds... I’ve realized all of my selections so far are from France (what can I say?), so I will try to venture outside of the country for some red suggestions.
For a lighter style of red, Pinot Noir comes to mind. Outside of France, Barbera from Northern Italy has basically the same structure and fruit as Pinot Noir. Bright and light, with notes of ripe cherry, Barbera has a distinctly Italian flair. The Vajra family of Piemonte makes some of the best Barbera out there. If you prefer domestic, Anthill Farms (as you may recall from a Grower Story a few months back), makes some of the tastiest Pinot Noir from Sonoma.
For full-bodied reds, so many wines come to mind. Cabernet of course, but also Syrah, Carignan and Aglianico. Syrah from Maxime Graillot in the Rhône Valley of France is a great segue for those who love domestic wine but want to venture into the Old World. It is big, juicy and full of black and purple fruit. But, as promised, trying to venture outside of France...
Aglianico from Campania in Southern Italy is known as the “Barolo of the South,” as this grape can make some age-worthy wines. Aglianico makes a full-bodied wine with firm tannins and good acidity, and is fantastic with grilled meat. The Grifalco winery makes a few different bottlings of Aglianico, and if you’ve never tried this grape, it would be a real treat.
If you want to go New World, Matthiasson is tops for Cabernet in my opinion, but when entering the world of Napa Valley, it can get a little pricey. They also have a project called Tendu, which comes in a liter, and is a fantastic little blend, perfect for a party.
We hope this helps you out - but as always, the Cru is here for you. Reach out to us and we’d be happy to put a party pack together just for you.
- the Cru