Champagne, Doritos, and Sand

The best non-fiction books can open up a captivating world existing right under your nose. The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How it Transformed Civilization by Vince Beiser falls into this category.

I’ll get to the meat of the book but there’s a short passage explaining the title of this post I’d like to point out. Beiser is finishing up a tour put on by the backers of one of Dubai’s shoreline expansion projects. Riding on a yacht, no less. “Moët in flute glasses” is poured. (The *correct* vessel for Champagne.) Beiser then remarks, “Bowls of fruit, nuts, olives, and, inexplicably, Doritos were scattered around. (I munched on a few of the chips, because when would be the next time I’d have a chance to pair Doritos with champagne?)”

Little did Beiser know, he’d experienced one of Champagne’s great pairings, if not its greatest. Nothing beats crunchy, salty snacks and any high-quality sparkling wine. I got a little emotional reading Beiser wasn’t sure when the opportunity would again arise. It’s something that should be a weekly occurrence for all wine drinkers.

ANYWAY, onto the book.

The World in a Grain

Wow, who knew sand plays such a crucial role in the development of the world from the 20th century to today. Well, Beiser does. DUH.

Think about concrete, glass, and the silicon chip. (Shout-out to Grinnell College graduate Robert Noyce, pioneer behind the latter and founder of Intel.) Not just the invention of each, but the wild proliferation of this trio. Particularly in the last century-plus. (Ok, less for the computer chip.) None of this would have been possible without sand. And particular types of sand needing to be mined.

Which leads to the bummer of the book. Sand mining is destroying land and shoreline all over the world. Illegal extraction is causing people who object to this activity to be killed. Corruption in the industry runs rampant. And our zeal to build on the shoreline, to create waterfront property where it doesn’t exist or bulk up current eroding beaches, is having significant environmental and financial impacts. Oh, and there’s no fracking without sand. (Sorry to pile on.)

The World in a Grain is an endlessly fascinating history and also a dire cautionary tale. Highly recommended.

Shout-out to my local bookstore, WORD in Greenpoint. They have a table with new/notable paperbacks and I always pick whatever looks interesting from the assortment of displayed fiction and non-fiction. Like this book!

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Pierre Peters champagne with Rodolphe Peters

One winery I wanted to be sure to visit when I was in Champagne last month was Pierre Péters. I have always tremendously enjoyed the racy wines in the US and Rodolphe Péters not only commands a lot of respect in the wine world for his Champagnes but I had heard he had a new (sparkling) wine project in California I wanted to learn more about. Despite wanting to find it, I drove right by the winery in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger–there’s no sign and it looked like a construction site.

Rodolphe Péters, who has made the wine since taking over from his father in 2007, met me and apologized for the mess. He said the project was taking longer than expected (which renovation hasn’t?). Rodolphe is a sixth generation farmer and a fourth generation winemaker. The estate is a renowned producer of blanc de blancs Champagne from their 19.98 hectares, which contain 65 parcels on the thin topsoil and chalky subsoil of the famed Cote des Blancs area. Only his grand cru wines are available in the US market (While he does make wine that is not grand cru, that stays in the French domestic market and the US receives only grand cru wines.

Rodolphe graduated as an enologist in 1992 but didn’t dive right in to

the family business. Instead, he had other jobs in the wine industry, such as selling closures for a big company, an experience that he said made him better at the business side. He also likes to list things, I learned, and he enumerates two things he learned about winemaking in this period of his life:
1. The best terroirs are stronger than the best winemakers, who shouldn’t even think to influence the best terroirs in the cellar
2. There is no recipe. His father once told him that every year is a new canvas. Rodolphe underscores how right he was, particularly with climate change, as conditions change year-to-year even more than before.

“If the best terroirs are very well farmed, if we pay enough attention just before and during the harvest–the key period of the year, more important than vinification–there is nothing much more to do to make champagne.”

He had a lot more to say about growing and harvesting, and he again enumerated:

1. The balance of maturity. “The magic of champagne is that we were able to pick ripe grapes that are unripe,” he said referring to what he called the “golden age” of champagne making that lasted until a couple of years ago. He says that growers in the region were able to pick grapes in perfect condition, which contributed to the increase in quality seen across the region. But things are changing. He says that the warming seasons now mean that sugars can outpace phonological ripeness of the grapes—the season used to take about 100 days from flowering to picking but last year some harvested in only 83. And rains at harvest can be particularly damaging.

“Most people think the quality of a vintage comes from the whole farming season—most actually comes one week before the harvest to the picking. A spring frost, for example, will affect quantity, not quality.” Also, he judges when to pick by taste. Sure, there’s a lab test, but he says taste is key.

2. Freshness of the fruit: he has set up a way to get the picked fruit pressed within three hours. “Need to avoid crushing, which would start pre=-maceration. Even for chardonnay. Every extra minute between picking and pressing diminishes freshness.”

3. The press matters. He is a fan of the pneumatic press over traditional He also says that managing the flow of the must—the unfermented juice emanating from the pressed berries—to have it flow through the skins acts as a natural filter which clears the must without the need to filter. To clarify (!) though, he doesn’t want perfectly clear juice since he keeps the wine on the gross lees and these add important flavor components, such as a nutty character, down the road.

4. Regulations limit the amount of juice that can be pressed from the grapes at the rate of 25 hectoliters for 4 metric tons. Of that 25 HL that flow, the first 20 are called “cuvée” and the last five are called “taille” (tails). He had a lot to say about taille, but in order not to turn this whole post into something fit or a Master of Wine seminar, I will just highlight what he has to say about the cuvée. He said that common wisdom is that the first drops (well, liters) of that free run juice are the best but he disagrees and only uses about 17-18 HL of the cuvée.

Okay, we’re almost at the tasting part! But first, a word (or two!) about his reserve. He maintains a “perpetual reserve” made from 50% of the current vintage and 50% previous vintages. For example, when he added 50% 2016 vintage to the reserve, this brought down the 2015 portion to 25%, and 2014 down to 12.5% and so on all the way back to trace amounts of 1998, when the reserve was started.

“In champagne we are blenders, we are the sole wine in the world allowed to blend multivintage wine, blend like port or sherry. I like the principal of the solera and perpetual reserve–there are very few cru good enough to be vinified as single vineyards in Champagne.”
Pierre Peters champagne with Rodolphe Peters

We move to taste the Cuvee de Réserve. The wine has a bit from each of the 65 parcels and this rendition is from the base of 2016. He says that he wants the wine to be exceptional because it is the wine that most people will come to know them through since it accounts for half the bottles they produce each year. Thus it receives about half the total production from the famed Les Chétillons vineyard as well as a big helping of the reserves (hence the name). He says the chardonnay from the area can be “unfriendly when young” and that they don’t want to release an austere wine, so they strive to find the “ideal balance between tight and crispy chardonnay from Le Mesnil and the smooth character of the reserves.”

And he strikes the balance flawlessly. Refreshing zippy qualities of the blanc de blancs from the top sites of Le Mesnil and the Cote des Blancs combine with the lees aging, 6g dosage, and the solera reserve to give a more yeasty, biscuity qualities for an excellent blend.

(search for Pierre Peters at retail)

Les Chétillons is a top site in Champagne. Pierre Péters owns three parcels for three hectares total, a pretty big vineyard that is also old (especially by Champagne standards) with the first vines planted in 1936 and anther set planted in 1971. The vines are almost all from selection massale, not cloned, and they are now being “touched” by shortleaf virus, so they have started a new nursery that is protected behind the construction site that is the winery. Les Chétillons wine is vinified separately in three tanks and it is a blend of the best of the three tanks, which he says is always better than the best of the individual blends (1+1+1=4, I guess you could say).

Rodolphe pointed out that even though single-vineyard, single-variety, single-vintage bottlings from small growers have recently generated a lot of excitement in the region, he cautions that with only a small vineyard block, it can be a difficult trick to pull off. “You can’t succeed every time,” he says, adding that insisting on single-vineyard bottlings can also reduce the quality of an entry-level wine.

But back to his Les Chétillons. Since 2012 was a standout vintage, and this is a superlative site, its not exactly counterintuitive to let you know that the wine was outstanding. If you are looking to introduce someone to the joys of what next-level Champagne can be, start here. If you already know the joys of champagne, get in line for a few bottles (but not at the winery since they don’t do direct sales). It is taut and nervy, loaded with chalky minerality, It is not at all piercing and certainly should be tasted now because it is jump-for-joy delicious. But the real reward, I’m sure, will come in 2025 and beyond—if you can keep your hands off it for that long.
Pierre Peters champagne with Rodolphe Peters

The big revelation for me was the MK 12, L’Etonnant Monsieur Victor – This wine is a selection of the best of the Chétillons plus the best of the three containers of perpetual reserve. Insane! It is like the Cuvee de Réserve but with age to make what Rodolphe says is “the very best possible nonvintage.” The label for this wine is designed by Rodolphe’s son Victor every year. This edition riffs on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and it does seem touched from on high—the nervy tension of the Chétillions Chardonnay is replaced by a bit more of a creamy texture from age and the presence of the big helping of reserve wines. This wine may have a goofy label but it is dead serious!

The final wine I tasted with Rodolphe is his rosé, the Cuvée Albane. Making a rosé was difficult for Rodolphe at first, since he did not want to make simply a pink blanc de blancs—it had to actually taste like a rosé! So the secret for him was Pinot Meunier, specifically from his friend, JB Geoffroy, whom Rodolphe calls the “saignée master.”

“I fell in love with the taste, pomelo blood orange—not not dark fruits. A light in went my mind—it’s a better match with chardonnay, sweeter, softer, less about the dark and red fruit, much more apple, citrus.” Well, there you go, he cribbed my tasting note! The wine, named after his daughter, is rare but well worth seeking out.

Why rosé? Rodolphe’s Cartesian mind again comes up with a list of reason: first, it’s good to go far from your roots; second, it’s important to have a connection with the next generation; third, friendship, since making something together with another winemaker “keeps you open minded.”

Two of those reasons could be applied to his new project in California! As some may have heard, Rodolphe is a partner in a very exciting venture in Santa Barbara. The other partners are Etienne de Montille of Burgundy and Justin Willett of Tyler and Lieu Dit. The winery project had no name yet nor have they released the first vintage commercially yet. But they have sourced grapes from Bentrock and Wenslow and purchased 45 acres of hillside vineyards on diatomaceous subsoil. It sounds like our patience will be rewarded and one day we will be able to raise a fine glass of California sparkling wine to toast the release.

(search for Pierre Peters at retail)

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New Year’s Eve Champagne at Marta in Manhattan

I can’t believe this is going to be my fourth (!) NYE in NYC. One thing has remained constant about the last day of the year: I start the night with some New Year’s Eve Champagne at Marta. Why, you ask?

Just add Champagne. / Photo via Facebook/Marta

Well you can’t beat pizza and Champagne. Whatever toppings/sauce/crust you opt for, there is no more versatile wine to compliment/transform a wild/wide variety of flavors and textures. I don’t even mind (too much) that I’m not drinking it out of a flute.*

Even better: Marta pours from magnums and 3Ls on NYE. I emailed the wine director, Kimberly Ruth Cavoores, to get the inside scoop on what & when.

So starting at 5pm, and until they are gone, here’s what’s popping at Marta:

New Year’s Eve Champagne: Big Bottle Duo

Dhondt-Grellet ‘Les Terres Fines’ Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru (3L)

Bereche & Fils  ‘Reflet d’Antan’ Brut (Magnum)

Both are $30/glass. (Oh, Kimberly says, “And maybe one more….”)

If you are a night owl, you can head down the hall to Vini e Fritti for a complimentary midnight toast of Krug, poured from magnum. (Naturally.)

Of course on a night like New Year’s Eve I’d contact either spot in advance to see what the deal is with reservations and/or walk-ins.

I’ll be grabbing a bar stool at Marta around  4:30 because I do not want to be anywhere near(-ish) Times Square and the insanity pulsating all around. Retreating to Brooklyn after my initial New Year’s Eve Champagne. Then heading to a friend’s house in Red Hook for cassoulet and natty wine(s).

Need some more Champagne thoughts? I have you covered:

Champagne Henriot Makes for an Illuminating Evening

A Most Unique Champagne: R. Dumont & Fils Solera Reserve Brut

How about sparkling wine? Boom:

Crémant is Your Sparkling Wine for the Holidays

Happy New Year, y’all.

*I’m sure Marta has flutes somewhere (I believe a former wine director told me this) and they’d be happy to accomodate me. But pouring from big bottles at bar height is not easy so I will be merciful and drink from a white wine glass. So benevolent of me, I know.

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Champagne Henriot Makes for an Illuminating Evening

As a sparkling wine fan(atic), pretty easy to say “yes” to a media event involving bubbles. And downright simple when it involves the finest of fizz from a producer I have been a longtime fan of: Champagne Henriot.

I have to say, it’s nice to be able to walk to an event. In this case, at National Sawdust in Williamsburg. I was there a couple years ago for a concert but I certainly wasn’t drinking Champagne. Anyway, this space is super space-age luxe. 

As we gathered in the lobby, our first sips were from a magnum of Champagne Henriot Blanc de Blancs. I love 100% Chardonnay Champagnes like this. They have a briskness perfect for kickstarting an evening/afternoon/late breakfast. Also, Champagne folks are gaga for drinking magnums. When in the region a couple years ago, one winemaker referred to the standard 750-milliliter bottle (somewhat derogatorily) as a “half-magnum.” Wine in mags ages more slowly and evenly because there is a larger juice-to-air ratio inside the bottle. AND THEY ARE JUST COOLER, PERIOD.

The star of the show, and the reason for the season, was Champagne Henriot Cuveé Hemera* 2005. It’s the first prestige cuveé for the winery’s cellarmaster Laurent Fresnet, who’s been with Henriot since 2006. This Champagne was luxurious, rich yet refreshing, and a great match with a monkfish dish served with lots of vegetables ON AN ILLUMINATED PLATE.

Anyway, it was a pretty bonkers evening. Harpists. Theremin-type action. Flutes. (Though, not Champagne flutes. Le bummer!)

We also drank the Brut Millésime 2008, a celebration of Maison Henriot’s 200th vintage. You definitely drink Champagne when you reach a couple hundred vintages, no?

Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain NV

Champagne Henriot Makes for an Illuminating EveningBut the Champane Henriot bottling that has a special place in my heart is the Brut Souverain. Yes, it was a distinct pleasure to be among the first folks to taste the Hemera. But the Brut Souverain, Henriot’s non-vintage blend, is a great introduction to the house and its style. It transports me back to selling it as a wine steward at QFC Broadway Market in Seattle. (Here’s a crazy story about those days, BTW).

Henriot was my go-to** recommendation for people just getting into Champagne and looking for something different than the usual suspects. It’s also important to note there are a lot of wineries with very expensive, prestige wines, but their “regular” offerings are disappointing. Not so with Chamapgne Henriot! This blend of 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, and 5% Pinot Meunier is all killer, no filler.

But even if you don’t have a harp accompaniment and a plate of monkfish, I promise you will enjoy Champagne Henriot. Consider it for all your dang holiday eating and drinking and then make your New Year’s Eve resolution (too soon?) to drink more high-quality sparkling wine all dang year long and FOREVER.

*Greek Goddess of Daylight

**Other go-to NV Champers I feel the same way about: Laurent-Perrier, Gaston Chiquet, Pierre Peters

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Wine Reviews: Champagne Lombard

I had not tasted the wines of Champagne Lombard before, but after going through some of their wines recently, I am now a fan.

Stylistically, these Champagnes generally have a lower dosage (or none at all), and a dry, zesty, bracing appeal. The house makes about 15 different cuvees, and I only tasted six, and was especially wowed by the single-vineyard wines.

The house sources grapes from more than 100 hectares of vineyards. They get Chardonnay from Grand Crus Mesnil-sur-Oger, Chouilly, Avize and Cramant, along with various Premier Cru villages, while the Pinot Noir is sourced largely from the east of the Montagne de Reims. The Grand Cru wines are aged at least 48-60 months before being disgorged, the Premier Cru a bit less.

The house can trace its roots back to Robert Andrieu (grandfather of the current owner), who founded the Société Anonyme de Magenta-Epernay in 1925. Phillipe Lombard took over in 1960 and expanded the winery and cellars in Epernay in 1987. The company is now run by Thierry Lombard.

The Premier Crus are really solid, and a great introduction to the house’s style, while the Grand Crus offer a whole lot of personality and depth. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

N.V. Lombard & Cie Champagne Rosé Premier Cru Brut- France, Champagne
SRP: $50
Rich salmon color. Aromas show fresh red cherries, strawberries, red apples, and a floral burst of rose and magnolia petals, over some chalky, biscuity notes. Focused, dry and fresh but concentrated but tart red fruits (strawberries, red apples). Musky-floral complexity mixes with a spiced tea and herbal note, and some chalk and bread crumbs. Deep and concentrated yet fresh. An even split between Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but 10% of the Pinot Noir is Grand Cru Verzenay fruit vinified as still red wine. Disgorged April 2017. (90 points)

N.V. Lombard & Cie Champagne Blanc de Noirs Premier Cru Extra Brut- France, Champagne, Champagne Premier Cru
SRP: $50
Light gold color. Lovely aromas of lemon, quince, apricot, wild strawberries, along with chalk, saline, musky cologne and fresh biscuits. Dry, bracing, precise, with tart lemon, orange pith, apricot pit, along with loads of briskness, saltiness and mineral qualities. Crushed shells, ocean spray, white tea, musky cologne, fresh bread dough. Complex, intense, lots of depth here. All Pinot Noir from Montagne de Reims, this was disgorged in October 2016. (90 points)

N.V. Lombard & Cie Champagne Grand Cru Verzenay Brut Nature- France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
SRP: $80
Light gold color. Wow, aromatically, this bursts with perfume, flowers, tart green apples, lemons, some strawberries, complex, evolving minerals, salty, shells, chalk dust. Brisk, dry, almost bracing, but lots of depth, too. Lemon, green apples, apricots, with a complex host of chalky, saline-infused, shell-crushed goodness. Almost austere if not for the depth of dough, honey and floral complexities. Pretty, deep, bracing stuff. 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, aged 48-60 months before disgorgement (this was disgorged June 2017). (92 points)

N.V. Lombard & Cie Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut Nature- France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
SRP: $80
Deep yellow color. So bright on the nose, with daisies, honeysuckle and orange blossom, with lots of chalks and sea salt, limestone dust, on top of lemon curd and apples. On the palate, pristine acidity, a bracing and dry appeal, with lots of up-front minerals, chalk and limestone dusty, mountain streams. Bright lemons and limes and green apples mix with complex ginger, sea salt, floral perfume and freshly-baked biscuits. Lots of depth but so lively. A blend of Chardonnay from Mesnil-sur-Oger, Chouilly, Avize, and Cramant, this was disgorged in June 2017. (92 points)

N.V. Lombard & Cie Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Mesnil-sur-Oger Brut Nature- France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
SRP: $80
Light gold color. Aromas shows rich biscuits and bread crumbs, but lots of dusty minerals, like a fine powder of sea salt, limestone, chalk and crushed shells, along with flowers, raw almond, honey, all on top of lemon curd goodness. Precise and focused on the palate with zesty acidity but a lovely depth and richness of texture. Lemon, yellow pears, lime, apricot, this is racy and complex with intermingled flavors of bread crumbs, sea salt, crushed shells, mountain stream, salted almonds. Really, really, good, this is bracing yet packed with depth and flavor. (93 points)

2008 Lombard & Cie Grand Cru Brut Nature- France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
SRP: $140
Light gold color. Toasty, salty, deep, complex aromatics, with wildflowers, lemon curd, wild strawberry, shaved ginger, crushed sea shells, a ton going on. So precise and dry on the palate but packed with flavor. Lemons, limes, green apples, topped with bread crumbs, cheese rind and candle wax. Complex elements of saline, limestone, honeysuckle and minerals. Young, deep concentrated, a long life ahead but this is already elegant and beautiful. 80% Chardonnay (from Mesnil-sur-Oger and Avize) and 20% Pinot Noir (from Ambonnay), this is aged 84 months in bottle and disgorged in May 2017. Long life ahead. (93 points)

Gloria Ferrer ‘ Blanc de Noir’ NV

I can’t remember when I started drinking Gloria Ferrer. Gloria Ferrer was one of the first domestic sparkling wines that my friends in the industry took seriously. It was delicious and affordable and so it ended up at a lot of our parties and celebrations. Gloria became so ubiquitous that we ended up on a first name basis. Gloria was our de facto bubbly and our lives were made better because of it.

Gloria Ferrer was founded in 1982 by the Ferrer family as their primary venture into California winemaking. Owners of Freixenet, one of the big Cava producers in Spain, the family’s lifelong dream was of producing wine in the United States. The winery was named after José Ferrer’s wife, Gloria. The couple continue to run the winery together to this day.

Gloria Ferrer’s wine making mission is: To capture the full expression of the distinctive Carneros terroir in wines made to pair perfectly with food.

Gloria Ferrer ‘Blanc De Noirs’ NV is just about a perfect food wine as you can Gloria Ferrer ‘ Blanc de Noir’ NVfind. This is delicious and elegant sparkling wine made from Carneros Pinot Noir. Its sweet, sunny fruit and gentle precision feels properly Californian. The texture is soft and polished, lasting on a clean chamomile scent that will keep you coming back for more. “Vibrantly floral strawberry and gingerbread aromas pair with crisp red apple and spice flavors that bounce along the finish.” 90 pts Wine Spectator

Which brings me to food. This wine is delicate enough for lighter fare but has the ability to pair with Steak (Surf and Turf anyone?) The richness of the Pinot Noir makes it perfect for richer seafood dishes. Crab Ravioli, Coquilles St Jacques, Seafood Fettucine.

A lovely and elegant dish that will liven up any dinner party is Crab Bisque. It is relatively easy to make and can stretch one crab a long way. You can find Dungeness Crab from around $9.99 a pound for 1 to 2 pound crab. Paired with a Sparkling Blanc de Noir you have a perfect night.

Gloria Ferrer ‘ Blanc de Noir’ NV

Dungeness Crab Bisque

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large crab cooked and meat removed, shells roughly chopped

*** Mire Poix

2 onion, finely chopped

2 small carrot, finely chopped

2celery stalk, finely chopped

1 medium fennel bulb, chopped

4 cups water

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 cup dry white wine

¼ cup medium-grain rice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

¼ cup Pernod

Pinch of saffron threads

1 cup heavy cream

water, as needed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



  1. In a large sauce pan combine half of the mire poix and crab shells add bay leaf and garlic. Cover with water (4 cups). Simmer for 20 minutes, strain and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, fennel and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes until soft
  3. Add the stock, wine, rice, tomato paste, Pernod and saffron. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the rice and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Puree the mixture in a blender until very smooth. Add cream. Thin with water if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Strain through sieve into a clean sauce pan.
  5. Return to heat and bring to a simmer.
  6. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with cooked crab and chives

Serves 8.

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#FlyEaglesFly (Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut Champagne)

The “Philly Special” that helped make Philly truly special

I rarely listen to Philly sports talk radio.

This is not because I don’t like the sports franchises of my adopted-home nearest-metropolitan-city; the only major sports category in which a Philadelphia team isn’t my #1 is the NFL (Steelers fan here), and even then the only time I wouldn’t cheer on the Eagles is when they’re playing the Steelers (which is, thankfully, a relative rarity).

The reason I don’t listen to Philly sports talk radio – especially this time of year – is because for many, many moons it’s been full of the self-flagellating, though legitimate, tales of woe of Eagles fans, many of whom have literally gone their entire lives wondering what it would be like for their home team to be crowned Superbowl Champions.

This week, I’ve be listening to Philly sports radio almost non-stop. And yes, it really is that good, even for a somewhat-jaded NFL fan whose fave team is, ahem, kind of used to this sort of thing (at least one time more than everyone else, in point of fact). I mean, people have been calling in literally sobbing tears of joy, and if you live anywhere near the Philly area, you immediately understand why. This week, an Eagles fan popped open a bottle of bubbles that has been in his fridge since late 1980 (when he expected his team to subsequently prevail in their first Superbowl performance). Now that, my friends, summarizes Philly’s Eagles fandom. By the way, I swear this will eventually turn into a wine review of a sample bottling.

It’s not just that the Philadelphia Eagles finally – finally! – brought home a Lombardi trophy after decades of enviable-but-ultimately bridesmaid-not-bride NFC success. It’s how they did it that makes this first Superbowl win so brilliant for this city. Unless you were a Philly sports fan, you were writing off Superbowl LII as the final coronation-to-godhead-status of the most successful quarterback/coach combination in modern NFL history. And instead, that combo got taken down in an out-play-calling, out-throwing shootout, by a QB/coach combo that was almost universally mocked, and both of whom had previously considered calling the NFL quits (and are now being hailed as sports geniuses).

A rag-tag group of talented, dedicated, underrated upstarts, many of whom were backups at their respective positions, just wanted it more badly, and worked both harder and smarter, than some of the most talented and successful performers in the history of the sport. And they beat the more dominant opponent at their own game.

Hello!!! This city erected a statue to Rocky Balboa. This city is the spiritual embodiment of the underdog. And so this Superbowl is the perfect David-vs-Goliath story for a city that needed exactly that outcome at exactly this time. And it is f*cking glorious…

If there’s a better time for the mass consumption of Champagne in Philly while listening to Eye of the Tiger on repeat, I’ve yet to encounter it in my lifetime…

#FlyEaglesFly (Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut Champagne)

NV Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut (Champagne, $50)

A blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay in descending percentages, around 15% reserve wine, and literally sourced from about 100 Champagne vineyards, you can regularly find this for under $40 on sale, and at that sale price it comes off as one of the better picks in traditional Champers.

Pound for pound (sorry, ml for ml), this is consistently Piper’s best bang bottling for the buck. The current marketing surrounding this blend centers on seduction, which is all well and good, but it’s just as easily a celebratory pick, because the balances between richness and perkiness, green apple and brioche, flowers and earth, all hit a very well-threaded, coherent equilibrium that makes this complex without being overly intellectualized, and just dangerously easy to imbibe (and almost as easily paired with a wide variety of food… wings and cheesesteaks included).

What does the future hold for the Birds?

Honestly, who give s a sh*t right now? Not even the Superbowl MVP backup quarterback and now-lauded Eagles head coach are falling into that look-ahead trap, and they are wisely advising the city to just take it in and enjoy a well-deserved moment of glory.

And I agree with them; I’d only add that you should consider drinking bubbles when you do it.


Grab The Tasting Guide and start getting more out of every glass of wine today!

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Copyright © 2016. Originally at #FlyEaglesFly (Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut Champagne) from - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

The Champagne Flute Needs a Hero (Me)

Tis the season for celebration, sparkling wine, and for more haters to bubble to the surface when it comes to the Champagne flute. But fear not, I (still) stand tall and proud when it comes to defending the ultimate vessel for sparkling wine.

This time, I marshaled resources to defend my case:

So get prepared to read about bubble flux and green steaks. (Seriously.)

It was a true delight to publish this missive in the December issue of Wine Enthusiast. AND have it accompanied by an illustrated Champagne flute created by none other than Jessie Moore aka CakeSpy.

Naturally this post was not without controversy. It inspired an article by Felicity Carter, “Calling time on the Champagne flute,” (?) in Meininger’s Wine Business International. (Geez, can’t I get a link to my article on The Thuse?) Carter would have you drink out of a glass shaped like a cement mixer, BTW.

Ok, here’s my Salute to the Flute:

Giving the Champagne Flute Some Well-Deserved Love and Support

What is your preferred glass for sparkling wine?

The post The Champagne Flute Needs a Hero (Me) appeared first on Jameson Fink.

The Champagne Flute Needs a Hero (Me)

Tis the season for celebration, sparkling wine, and for more haters to bubble to the surface when it comes to the Champagne flute. But fear not, I (still) stand tall and proud when it comes to defending the ultimate vessel for sparkling wine.

This time, I marshaled resources to defend my case:

So get prepared to read about bubble flux and green steaks. (Seriously.)

It was a true delight to publish this missive in the December issue of Wine Enthusiast. AND have it accompanied by an illustrated Champagne flute created by none other than Jessie Moore aka CakeSpy.

Naturally this post was not without controversy. It inspired an article by Felicity Carter, “Calling time on the Champagne flute,” (?) in Meininger’s Wine Business International. (Geez, can’t I get a link to my article on The Thuse?) Carter would have you drink out of a glass shaped like a cement mixer, BTW.

Ok, here’s my Salute to the Flute:

Giving the Champagne Flute Some Well-Deserved Love and Support

What is your preferred glass for sparkling wine?

The post The Champagne Flute Needs a Hero (Me) appeared first on Jameson Fink.

Stunning Bubbles Excellent for Mother’s Day

A selection of stunning bubbles excellent for the special Moms in your life this Mother’s Day Stunning Bubbles Excellent for Mother’s DayStunning Bubbles Excellent for Mother’s DayStunning Bubbles Excellent for Mother’s Day

Stunning Bubbles Excellent for Mother’s Day

Bisol Desiderio Jeio Prosecco Brut (Italy) $12.99 btl / save $7
A rich, complex Prosecco that is amazing for the price! Brilliant straw yellow color with extremely fine and lively perlage. Intense and fresh nose of citrus fruits and saline sensations. Perfect for Bellini’s in the Spring, or on its own!

Graham Beck Brut Rosé NV (South Africa) $12.99 btl / save $7
The Graham Beck Cap Classique Brut Rosé delights with a pink color and a vivid character. Fine pearls adorn the palate, notes of cherries and raspberries entice the tongue. Perfect for Spring – and beyond!

Champagne Maillart Marie Hanze Brut NV (France) $37.99 btl / save $12
90 Wine Spectator
“Steely acidity frames this austere style, but the spiced flavors of guava, fresh-cut apple, spring blossom and kumquat are sufficiently expressive and fleshy for balance. Tightly knit in texture and lightly creamy on the finish.”

The post Stunning Bubbles Excellent for Mother’s Day appeared first on Madewine's Sippy Cup - Blog.