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I, like many people, have a bunch of New Year resolutions to help usher in a successful year. Tucked between the more banal aspirations (plans to frequent the gym more, increase my income…), there is one inspired resolution that I look to fulfill—taste five hundred bottles of wine.

Five hundred bottles and corks, like motoring through five hundred laps of asphalt in Indianapolis will be difficult. This is a lot of wine for me. To give you some perspective I normally taste about two hundred bottles per year. I picked my figure based on people in the industry and other bloggers who taste upwards of a thousand bottles of wine or more per year. Baby steps.

After formulating my ambitious plan I decided to chip away at the mammoth figure and use the first day of  2011 to begin experimenting with wine. Half a year ago I fell in love with Sparkling wines, especially Grower Champagne, searching for the best and most affordable options from indie producers. Unfortunately, I had my blinders on; the world of bubbles was confined to the Northeastern corner of France (*just like French pop music was relegated to Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’s single 1901 on KROQ), there are many varieties of sparklers from Cava to Sparkling Shiraz that deserve attention or at least to be acknowledged.

Crémant, one such Champagne outlier, a sparkling wine from France that uses the traditional method was my first real foray into a new direction of sparkling wine. Crémant applies to different regions from within France as well as Luxembourg and it is not restricted to the three varieties of grape that comprise Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir). I decided to pop a bottle of Domaine des Roches Crémant de Bourgogne to marry with the feast my mom had prepared and share with my parents. Every year we observe our Dutch tradition and make split pea soup but this year to supplement the erwtensoep we would have couscous with toasted pine nuts and parsley, and a lemon and thyme roasted chicken.

On the nose the Crémant smelled of a green apple jolly rancher, fresh and candied and on the tongue it was more tart green apples, which finished with crisp and biting acidity. The acidity on the palate made it an ideal match for food, especially, the soup that had plenty of fat.

The next night we uncorked a bottle of 2006 “Broken Road” Chardonnay from Stonestreet that had ripe peach on the nose. The flavors on the palate however did not translate. The oak was pronounced and a little kick of alcohol came through on the finish. The weight of the Chardonnay was great for the leftovers but it was not my favorite pairing.

A few days into 2011 and I have already tried a couple of bottles but it is far too early to dangle the mighty five hundred in front of me. I have to pace myself. I look to Bartholmew Cubbins for inspiration and the will to plod ahead, to make each bottle a bigger and more extravagant event than my blog will allow. It’s going to be a good year.

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Musical Accompaniment

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