Only two entries this week, but two fine examples of what our editors were drinking last week.


Julia Burke: Champagne

This year my regular New Years plans changed unexpectedly. Instead of spending the holiday with old friends, I spent it with new ones - coworkers from my new job at a wine retailer.

Let's just say the beverage bar was raised. Now, I'll happily drink anything at a party - it's about the people, after all - but I have to say the amazing lineup of champagne at this gathering was a first for me.

We started with the good stuff while everyone was sharp and relatively sober; there were three that distinctly stood out for me.

First up was Krug Grand Cuvee Brut, my personal favorite. Insanely chalky and stony, it was fierce yet delicate and its quiet power completely bowled me over.

Our second offering, Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvee Brut, was an intensely citrusy grower's Champagne with a weightier and rounder feel.

Finally, Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve was full and serious, with a nose I can only describe as meteorological: it had the tension of a rainstorm just about to break. All three were stunning with a cheese plate and a sushi appetizer.

At that point, one coworker decided it was time to sabre a bottle of Mumm Napa with a machete. To quote The Big Lebowski, "you can imagine where it goes from there."



Evan Dawson: Jamet 1988 Cote-Rotie Cote Brune

On New Year's Day I drank a wine that might not be eclipsed in terms of pure intellectual pleasure in 2011.

This wine was among several poured blind with dinner, and I immediately thought of the northern Rhone. I guessed Hermitage. For those who doubt the expressiveness of a wine's sense of place, I'd ask them to seek out this producer. The northern Rhone is stitched into the wine's texture.

At 22 years old it was in what must be the ideal drinking window. This wine was like an opera - but with the final act sung in English, the plot finally revealed. Beautiful but no longer building up to some mysterious payoff, it's all out in front of you. That should not be taken to mean "simple." Mint ripples into green olive which flows into lavender, all before the wine hits your mouth. Then it unloads a sturdy but mellifluous structure with tangy iron and dark plum. It was riveting. I won't bore you with more tasting note details.

A special occasion wine was a dazzling way to begin 2011.