San Jose wine merchants recommend great Champagnes for New Year's Eve at home

San Jose wine merchants recommend great Champagnes for New Year's Eve at home
Photo by Nora Schlesinger on Unsplash
By Laila Weir - Published on December 30, 2020.

It's just about time to ring out 2020 and ring in 2021! Big parties or a night out are no-go's under COVID precautions, but there are other ways to welcome the new year with a bang. Hoodline chatted with Harrison Fong, proprietor of Vintage Wine Merchants on San Jose's Santana Row, about great wines to make your stay-at-home New Year's Eve something special.

Just don't forget to pair your bubbles with a take-out New Year's Eve feast. Left Bank Brasserie on Santana Row is offering a four-course fixed-price dinner ($85 per person) and is open for pickup and delivery from noon to 9 p.m. on Dec. 31. Or order your favorite fare from any local restaurant. You'll be helping the area's food scene survive the pandemic and treating yourself into the bargain.

Hoodline: With the current public health orders, most people will be staying home for New Year’s Eve. Can you recommend some great sparkling wines to make for a special evening?

Fong: This has been such an amazing year that has really challenged our traditional thinking. Typically, the New Year's holiday is a moment to reflect on the past and celebrate unbridled optimism for the future. Large gatherings and wanton New Year's celebrations won’t be the in-thing, and small intimate celebrations are the order of the day. If you have the same budget, we are encouraging our clients to splurge a little and try something new, different and that you might not have ever had.

Send off the terrible COVID year with a brilliant Champagne from one of the finest vintages in the past 20 years, 2008. A remembrance that there are good years and there are bad years.  

The 2008 Philipponnat Extra Brut Champagne Mareuil Sur Ay ($148.98) offers a clear, fresh and precise bouquet of red fruits, dark cherries and black chocolate. The palate is beautifully pure and fresh, very fine, elegant and light but also complex and is provided with a long, tensioned, very mineral and exciting finish. It is filigreed, very salty and stimulating in the aftertaste.

Hoodline: Are there options at various price points?

Fong: We go from high to low and have something in all price categories. 

Guillaume Sergent Champagne Extra Brut Les Pres Dieu Blancs de Blancs ($64.98): Offering up a composed bouquet of citrus oil, fresh peach, wet stones and warm biscuits, the wine is medium to full-bodied, tensile and incisive, with a bracing spine of acidity that lends it incredible precision and carries through the searingly chalky finish. This is a racy, acid-driven and uncompromising champagne that will delight purists.

Delamotte Brut Champagne ($44.98): Pale yellow. Intensely mineral nose displays lemon, lime and wet stone scents. Racy and sharply focused, with vivid lemon/lime and green apple flavors underscored by talc and bitter quinine. Finishes with very good cut and lingering minerality.

M Bonnamy Cremant de Loire Brut ($14.98): Quartzy and bright nose, redolent with fresh apple skin and crushed sweetart aromas. Zippy and energetic on the palate with a long chalky citrus finish, the maritime proximity and limestone soils really shine through in the very pure, minerally wine. A fantastic accompaniment for an aperitif or seafood. A blend of chenin blanc, chardonnay, and cab franc.

Hoodline: What about for someone who doesn’t enjoy sparkling wine. Are there some other festive bottles you recommend?

Fong: Sparkling wine is so characteristic of New Year's, but not everybody enjoys sparkling wine. We actually have a wine called Celebration.

2019 Celebration Red Wine Central Coast ($23.98): A low-alcohol "crushable" red reminiscent of lighter southern French reds with great natural acidity. Hailing from Contra Costa County, ancient Carignan vines and a couple cool-climate central coast sites for Syrah and Grenache components. The lush aromatic bouquet brings generous notes of dark black fruit, black pepper and licorice that lead to a broad palate that is supple, smooth, minty and fresh. The perfect daily drinker for celebrating life with your most cherished friends.

Hoodline: What are the best ways for people to shop from you these days? 

Fong: We’re limited in the amount of people that can come in the store. Curbside pickup as well as several shipping options are available. 

Vintage Wine Merchants is located at 377 Santana Row, San Jose.