Wine: Champagne Bertrand Senecourt Special Cuvee Beau Joie Brut
Grapes: Pinot noir (60 percent), chardonnay (40 percent)
Region: Epernay, Champagne, France
In the glass: Beau Joie Brut Champagne is a bright, firm citrine yellow with a clean, clear appearance showing lovely petit pearly effervescence from the core going out into a glass-clear rim definition with light to medium viscosity
On the nose: It’s classic at first with a plethora of mixed white fruits, dominated by stone fruit, red apple slices, apple pie, then freshly baked pastry, mowed straw, nuttiness like crushed hazelnuts, smashed walnut shells and finally leavened dough over chalky minerals.
On the palate: It teems with mousse and is creamy in texture in the mouth, before revealing the fresh, zippy character of the fruit and the nuts, almond biscotti, some yeast residue, and then a lovely balance between white fruit and acidity on the midpalate. This lasts through to the lingering finish with nice verve and some citrus zest.
Wine: Le Grand Courtage Grande Cuvee Brut Rose
Grapes: Chardonnay (40 percent), ugni blanc (30 percent), gamay (30 percent)
Region: Burgundy, Eastern France
In the glass: Grand Courtage is an antique rose to salmon-pink color with a clear appearance going out into a faint, almost glass-clear meniscus with medium-high viscosity.
On the nose: The immediate burst of strawberry and raspberry fruit is lively but layered on top of interesting cognac notes, fresh hay, almost sweet rosehip crush with hints of red currants, light cranberry juice, yeast, brandy-filled milk chocolate and good firm minerality.
On the palate: This is an interesting sparkling wine; people think it will taste sweet, but it is dry. Nevertheless, it has these most curious red fruits, rosehip soup, pomegranate seeds, bitter almond milk and then sparkliness with red ripe currants that take it into a full and structured midpalate with yeast components and minerality, leading to a zesty red and white fruit finish.
Odds and ends: This year, I have chosen two very different, yet equally delicious bottles of bubbly. The first is true Champagne, produced under the strict regulations for Champagne and coming from that region in France. It is the Champagne Bertrand Senecourt Special Cuvee Beau Joie, also known as Beau Joie Brut. It is the most impressively packaged Champagne, and it was “created” in Las Vegas by a couple of very smart guys, who decided that their imported Champagne should have hand-forged copper latticework laid on the bottle like a cage. It’s nothing short of spectacular for a special New Year’s party.
The other choice is less-spectacularly packaged and is not real Champagne per se. Yet it is so irresistibly elegant and classy that it can easily masquerade as “the real deal.” It is Le Grand Courtage Brut Rose. Again the bottle looks stunning, but it comes from Burgundy and is an interesting blend of grape varieties from Burgundy, Beaujolais and Cognac, making for a most remarkably drinkable wine.
Both bottles are great representatives of Champagne and sparkling wine. Whichever you choose, you’ll have a merry time indeed.
Remember to chill them to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit before drinking them and serve them in wineglasses rather than Champagne flutes, for maximum enjoyment. Happy holidays.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.