Happy New Year! This is a post dedicated to the sparkling wine served at midnight; details on the dinner will be provided in the following post... maybe in a day or so.
It's not often that I purchase vintage sparkling wine. There are many reasonable and delicious non-vintage bottles that work perfectly well--I'm one of those folks who likes a bubbly that pairs nicely with food, and sparkling wine (like Riesling) tends to fit into categories that don't pair well with traditional still red and white wines, like Asian cuisine, spicy food, and oddballs like fried chicken and barbecue. I'd never order a bottle of Champagne in a BBQ joint, but at home with a shoulder I've smoked myself, a chilled Spanish Cava does the trick nicely.
My favorite line in the bargain fizz category comes from Domaine Ste. Michelle of Washington state (in particularly voluptuous bottles, I might add). They make a Blanc de Blancs, an Extra Dry, a Brut, a Frizzante I've never tasted, and my pick of the litter, the lovely salmon-tinted Blanc de Noirs. Thus it was with great curiosity that I stumbled upon the 1998 Domaine Ste. Michelle Luxe. This is a fine little sparkler, with full aromas of buttered toast and popcorn. Very dry, balanced acidity, and a short aftertaste. Not a big hit at the gathering, but I was happy to take the remaining half-bottle home. This is like no other sparkler I've had from Ste. Michelle, yet I still loved it.
Incidentally, 1998 was the year I picked up my dog Wolfgang from the pound. He was a puppy at the time, so it's his birth year. Wolfie is what some might call a mutt, mongrel or Heinz 57, but I prefer the term "American Brown Dog". About 45 pounds, a Chow's speckled tongue, a Husky's curly tail, some German Shepherd markings, one ear up and one ear down, and a general coyote countenance. I've seen him catch and eat field mice, force a pit bull into submission, hike with me for 10 miles and beg for more, and then cower under the kitchen table in the presence of a nine year old girl. He can also take a single grain of rice offered from a pair of chopsticks with dainty precision, leaving nary a tooth mark on the bamboo.
I've always loved this photo, even if it shows my poorly made bed. He'll take this stance on a regular basis: front legs crossed, spine contorted in ways that are only comfortable for dogs, and this utterly intelligent and bemused expression on his face like he knows much more than he lets on.
Hard to believe that the little fella is eight now. Here's to you, Wolfie.