COLUMN WRITTEN BY PHILLIP SILVERSTONE
Auld Lang Syne has once again almost reached his sell by date and we’re eagerly awaiting New Lang Syne. But before Synes of the times change, we have that dynamic duo of festivities to celebrate: Christmas and Kwanzaa.
I have fashioned my own annual tradition, which in keeping with Mr. Dickens’ preoccupation, is steeped heavily in provisions and slurps favored by an ex Brit. If you’re lucky enough, like me, to live driving distance of Trader Joe’s, you can find some excellent smoked salmon which is amazingly affordable. And for pre-dinner nibbling try their Salmon Fleurettes. The Scottish salmon is smoked with oak chips taken from whisky barrels, then thinly sliced, and wrapped around a cream cheese mousse. An 8 ounce tray of 12 Fleurettes is $9.99.
While shopping at Trader Joe’s (I happen to be one of their best customers and pretty addicted to their food) try their Grand Blue Cheese from the Allgäu region of Bavaria in southern Germany. It is semi-soft, rich and buttery flavored and $12.99 a pound.
My old favorite, affordable blue cheese friendly wine is always port. And Cockburn’s LBV Port (approximately: $23) is one heck of a good buy. It features rich and intense black fruit aromas: Full-bodied blackberry fruit flavours mellowed by ageing in seasoned oak vats, with a long and lingering, slightly drier finish. Cockburn’s Late Bottled Vintage Port is selected from a particularly good year. Primarily sourced from Cockburn’s own vineyards and from neighboring vineyards in the magnificent Upper Douro Valley. The Port is matured in seasoned oak vats, which are cared for by Cockburn’s own team of coopers. But frankly, it just plain ole yummy.
And now for the perfect partner for smoked salmon … it is the tipple of choice to welcome the new year with: Fizz aka bubbly aka sparkling aka (if it’s French) Champers … and here are some which are way beyond brilliant.
By now you must know my favorite west coast sparkling tipple is anything bottled by Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma. The California outpost of Spain’s Freixenet, is as good as a Left Coast bottle of bubbly gets. I always have a pair of Sonoma Bruts chilling in my fridge as Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper present the best New Year’s Eve entertainment on TV from Times Square on CNN.
Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvée Brut (approximately $28) has a taste which blends Granny Smith apples and a touch of Bartlett pear and lime and it’s crisp, clean, refreshing and easily a party pleaser. This classic blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is an always stunning drink.
Gloria Ferrer Blanc De Noirs (approximately $20). As the name suggests the wine is made primarily from red grapes, and those grapes are Pinot Noir with a little Chardonnay added. The Pinot gives the wine a soft berry flavor with deliciously creamy notes and a gorgeously lingering aftertaste.
Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut (approximately $20) is in my fridge because I love it to bits. It again has the predominance of Pinot with some Chard. Apple and pear flavors predominate with a little toasted bread coming through. These also form the flavor of the wine, which is soft, creamy and what I tend to call “one size fits all palates.”
And, this is the year to toast our chums in France. As they leave some horrendous memories behind from the atrocities perpetrated on Parisians in 2015 let’s raise a glass of France’s finest bubbly to toast their good health and safety in 2016, and, indeed, the entire world’s hope for peace.
Moët & Chandon is to French Champagne what Rolls & Royce is to British motoring. A silky, smooth journey in a classic marque.
Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rose 2006 (approximately $90) is a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier and it is one of the classiest pink sparklers known to modern man. The flavor goes beyond anything else you’ll find in your glass offering. There are exquisite delicious red fruit flavors, intense floral notes and a beautiful toastiness that linger as one year rolls into the next.
Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut NV (approximately $65) is the quintessential Champagne with a pedigree second and third to none. If you’ve never had a glass or three of this wine, now is the time to remedy that oversight. The list of flavors that dance in your glass are incredible: Apples, pears, sweet summer fruits and a hint of a squeezed lemon. One word for this wine: awesome. Another word for this wine: sublime.
Phillip Silverstone’s column appears each week in this publication. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly podcast heard on TuneIn Radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free TuneIn app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4 “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining