Shamrock Selections is a monthly subscription service that brings you the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Shamrock Selections is ideal for enthusiasts and explorers who delight in finding hidden gems and trying new, exclusive vintages. Each month, you can join us on a journey of sampling and learning about some of the greatest wines in the world. Each selection of wine comes with detailed tasting notes and food pairing suggestions from our team.
Well, here we are – another year ended and another month of wine. I’d love to tell you that this month’s wines were deliberated over for months, or that they’re the result of some grand theme. But no, this month is just about good wine and sharing it with good people. No pretense and no fuss, so without further ado…
2015 Gachot-Monot Côte de Nuits-Villages
I think it’s fitting that we booked 2017 with pinot noir. While last January saw us drinking the Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, we close the year with a wine from one of my favorite regions in Burgundy.
The Côte de Nuits is the northernmost region of Burgundy proper, just south of the city of Dijon, and home to 24 Grand Cru vineyards. These are some of the most expensive vineyards in the world and were recently designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The best of these bottles can easily run into the thousands of dollars, but this offering from Gachot-Monot at the Villages level gives a glimpse of what these world-famous wines have to offer.
This wine shows the perfect balance that great Burgundy can achieve. It’s wonderfully aromatic with notes of blackcurrant, cherry, cooked mushroom, and spices. I’ve had it now several times, with duck, chicken, and an array of cheeses, and each time I discover more nuance and sophistication.
When I had my first sip, I thought it might be too light (I say this as an admitted lover of heavy California pinots), but with time, I began to see its delicacy as a diminutive vulnerability. Not so much a mighty stag but a spotted fawn taking its first steps – an experience to cherish and savor.
I should also mention that this is one of those bottles that, while incredible now, will develop even more in the future. The 2015 vintage in Burgundy is being heralded as one of exceedingly rare quality. I know I’ve put back a few bottles for the future and I recommend you do the same.
Scharffenberger Cellars Brut Excellence
Well, it wouldn’t be the holidays without bubbles, would it? Scharffenburger has been making sparkling wine in Anderson Valley since 1981. A several hours drive north of Napa and Sonoma, the Anderson Valley is located in Mendocino County just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean which provides cooler temperatures that are ideal for growing grapes for sparkling wine.
Made from 60% chardonnay and 40% pinot noir, the Brut Excellence is made in the méthode traditionelle, the same production method of in-bottle fermentation that is used in Champagne. The thing that I love most about this wine is that, while many other sparklers from California insist on being light and ethereal, this once embraces its own roundness. A process known as malolactic fermentation gives the wine a fullness that I absolutely love in sparkling wine. It allows for an overwhelming note of vanilla creme which runs throughout, with heady notes of brioche and yellow apple as well.
For me, this is the perfect aperitif wine, a little something fun before getting down to business with dinner. I’d pair it with something light – maybe a fruit or cheese-based appetizer, or as I’m doing at my own Christmas party this weekend, with a couple different flavors of potato chip. If you’re a fan of drinking sparkling wines with dinner (and you should be), I think this would go well with roast chicken or even a pasta in white sauce. Sparkling wines work extremely well with food, so I encourage you to be inventive!
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