The citys top chefs dreamed up the recipes. The citys
finest sommeliers chose the wines.
Here are nine of the best, whipped cream not included.
If youre daring (or foolhardy) enough to brave the gawkers and
visit the Rockefeller Center tree, youll need to refuel soon
Toasts of the Town If you've been invited to dinner this holiday season,
that bottle of Mumm parked next to the cash register just won't cut it as a present for your host. Some of New York's top chefs, sommeliers,
and restaurateurs gave us their picks on what bottles to
bring plus a little background info on each to impress your host.
By T SAHARA MEER
Eric Benn, Restaurateur The Bubble Lounge
Under $30: Paul
Goerg Brut Tradition Champagne, $28.
This non-vintage bubbly is bought from
the first press of the season and then fermented by the small champagne
house. "A true value that's always consistent from year-to-year."
Over $30: Dampierre Family Reserve Champagne, 1990, $75.
"This is a beautiful bottle of
champagne to bring as a gift." The muzzle that holds down the
cork is made from hemp string and tied in the old French method
(sans a knot). It also comes with a small pair of gold scissors
attached for opening.
Patrick Bickford, Sommelier Washington Park
Under $30: Franco
Martinetti Bric dei Banditi, Barbera d’Asti, 2000, $15.
Martinetti is a careful and selective
winemaker from the Piedmont region of Italy. "He doesn't use
wood in the aging process, so the juiciness and brightness of the
Barbera isn't compromised."
Over $30:Jean Milan Blanc de Blancs "Terres
de Noel" Grand Cru, $55.
The name translates as "Land of Christmas,"
which seems fitting for a holiday soiree. The grapes come from 45-year-old
vines and, unlike some used in other champagnes, aren't frozen after
picking, making the end product more flavorful.
Under $30: Marcel
Lapierre Morgon Beaujolais, 2000, $20.
Beaujolais has been getting a bad rap
for years due to the mass production and marketing of the Beaujolais
Nouveaus. "The region actually produces a variety of complex
wines like this one, which could be a dead ringer for a Burgundy,"
Crickmore says. "The wine is hand-made, the bottle has a wax-finished
cork, and it goes great with rich holiday dishes."
Over $30:Laurent Perrier Rose NV, $70.
"Wine geeks will love the complexity
of this 100% Pinot Noir champagne, and the crispness makes it an excellent
palate cleanser between courses. The bottle, not to mention the salmon
color of the champagne itself, are both stunning and quite festive."
Under $30: Moscato
d'Asti, Saracco, Piedmont '01, $15.
"One of my guys brought this sparkling
muscat in," says DeMarco, "and I was having a taste in the
kitchen and thought 'Wow, this is great for the holidays!' It's fun-tasting,
bubbly and sweet. It would go well with dessert or before, as an apéritif."
Over $30: Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill Champagne
This one is also a favorite of the Bubble
Lounge's Eric Benn. It seems that Churchill was a longtime friend
of the Pol-Roger family and would enjoy a glass of their 1945 champagne
every morning. This 1993 is blended to be a replica of Churchill's
favorite, so the family has kept the formula a secret to discourage
Under $30: Canada
de Haza,Tempranillo, 1999, $15.
"Ribera del Duero has become the
new Rioja of Spain," says Harrington. Young winemakers are defecting
to this region to escape traditional methods and experiment with new
processes. "The result has been wines with more flexibility without
Over $30: Gaston Chiquet Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne,
The vines of this 100% chardonnay were
planted in 1935 by Nicolas Chiquet's grandfather, who is possibly
the first vintner to plant the grape in this bastion of Pinot Noir.
"The high acidity makes it a perfect complement to any dish."
Under $30: L.A.
Cetto, Chenin Blanc, Baja California, Mexico, 1999, $16.
It's no surprise that the fiercely proud
Zarela's choice of wine would be from her native Mexico. Her homeland
is the oldest wine producer in the Americas, dating back to the time
of the Aztecs. Martinez likes this Chenin Blanc because it's "light,
sexy and very flexible."
Over $30: Herradura Añejo, $60.
"Well, it's not a party without a
nice bottle of tequila," says Martinez, "and what doesn't
taste good with a little Herradura?" She's even got a recipe
for her sister Aida's "Drunken Turkey" basted in the agave
liquor on her website: www.zarela.com.
Under $30: G. Huet Vouvray Sec, 1999, $22.
"Perhaps the most versatile white
wine I know of. It works equally well as an apéritif, or is a perfect
match with shellfish, white truffles or turkey. A remarkable value,
Over $30: Fontodi
Chianti Classico Reserva, any vintage from 1994-99, $40.
"I would be thrilled if someone brought
this to my house for dinner, because it goes with all the rich foods
that I love!" exclaims Meyer. "But, if I did choose to squirrel
it for myself, I would store it safely for a handful of years, knowing
that it would age gracefully in the bottle."
Over $30 List
Family Reserve Champagne, 1990, $75.
Jean Milan Blanc de Blancs
"Terres de Noel" Grand Cru Champagne, $55.
Laurent Perrier Rose NV,
Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston
Churchill Champagne 1993, $140.
Gaston Chiquet Brut Blanc
de Blancs Champagne, 1996, $80.
Herradura Añejo Tequila,
Fontodi Chianti Classico
Reserva, Any vintage from 1994-99, $40.