In less than one week, we’ll finally bid 2011 adieu with a proper send off filled with firecrackers, noise disturbances, and enough booze to conjure the world’s worst hangover on New Year’s Day. Liquor stores are nothing short of variety this year when it comes to sparkling wines, and unless you’re a seasoned oenophile, you’ll probably need some help figuring out which bottle to choose. We decided to ask sommelier Jason Wagner of forthcoming RM Champagne Salon (opening this February at 116 N. Green behind Jared Van Camp’s spot Nellcôte) for his recs on what to drink. Between previous somm gigs at world renowned restaurants A Voce and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York and all the research going into RM, Wagner has definitely had his fair share of bubbles. Here, he shares his favorite bottles for NYE, from the top-shelf labels to the last ditch effort at the supermarket.
Most Baller Bubbles: “If you really wanna be a baller, then you ball with Salon. And you get it in magnum. Only 37 vintages have been made since 1921 and they only make it in truly the best vintages. It ain’t cheap, but in this case you get what you pay for—100% Chardonnay from the Grand Cru of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and the strictest selection—unlike with other expensive Champagnes, ahem, Cristal.”
Budget-Friendly Buy: “Cremant de Bourgogne “Cuvée F” by Theirry et Muriel Fournier really over delivers. Made by two Champenoise who wanted to expand but had to go to Burgundy (buying land in Champagne is difficult for small growers). It’s 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from Rully, Mercury, Pommard, and Volnay—and made just like Champagne. It’s killer bubbles without the Champagne address (and therefore without the Champagne price tag).”
Bubbles to Impress a Wine Geek: “Bougey-Cerdon from either Renardat-Fâche or Patrick Bottex. Both are made from Gamay and Poulsard grapes in the Méthod Ancestrale. This should have the wine geek running like mad to his/her nearest wine encyclopedia. They’re soft and slightly sweet, pleasing not only the wine geek, but also your mom.”
Last Ditch Effort at the Grocery Store: “You really shouldn’t be buying your wine at the grocery store if you can help it. You do much better at your local wine shops, and they have a much more curated inventory and better customer service. In a pinch, though, Roederer Estates from the Anderson Valley of California is pretty slammin’.”
What he’ll be drinking this New Year’s Eve: “Lots of stuff, including Champagne J.Lassale. It’s basically Salon when they don’t declare a vintage. It makes me feel like a baller.”