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Spirits of the Season 2013: Two Blanc de Blancs, two appetizers to ring in New Year!

By April Neale Dec 30, 2013, 6:27 GMT

Spirits of the Season 2013: Two Blanc de Blancs, two appetizers to ring in New Year!

Spirits of the Season 2013: Two Blanc de Blancs, two appetizers to ring in New Year!

Spirits of the Season 2013 will bring you the hottest new recipes, spirits and wines from the coolest distilleries, vineyards, restaurants and bars from all across the globe!

New Years and Champagne are bosom buddies. Champagne (France), Cava (Spain) or Prosecco (Italy) are the classic wine choices for parties and celebrations.

Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Moscato d'Asti, and the Californians made in 'Methode Champenoise' style are blended from different vintage wines, resulting in a cuvée that's greater than the sum of its parts.

One you cannot ignore are good Blanc de Blancs from California, as these wines possess a characteristic that adds depth to fruity, savory, meaty lavors; they have an unparalleled acidity that cuts through rich, fatty dishes and are brilliant with cheeses as appetizer courses.

With New Year's eve in just a few days, there's the celebratory feel that sparkling wines lend to the night that ushers in 2014.

Below, you'll find two California bottles we highly recommend under $25 each that are delicious, affordable bubbles that enhance sweet and savory pairings.
Mumm Napa Blanc de Blancs
Non-Vintage from Napa Valley, California

Blanc de Blancs is made from Chardonnay, which provides a crisp acidity and fresh citrus notes, while Pinot Gris rounds out the mouth with stone fruit flavors and rich spicy tones.

Layered onto these gorgeous fruit notes is a rich complexity and creaminess from extended yeast aging. This traditional aging coupled with the outstanding fruit flavors of Napa Valley produces an elegant sparkling wine that perfectly expresses Mumm Napa: traditional techniques and contemporary Napa Valley winegrowing.

Mumm Napa draws from the rich heritage of Champagne Mumm of Reims, France while integrating a unique Napa Valley style to make internationally respected wines of excellent quality. Mumm winemaler Ludovic Dervin carries on the inspiration that began with Guy Devaux in making Mumm Napa wines, bringing the ripe character of Napa fruit to the forefront while maintaining the classic balance and structure necessary in an outstanding sparkling wine.

Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blancs

A drier finish for this CHardonnay blend, this is a great deal too.

Food Pairings: Brie Cheese, cheese appetizers, seafood, spicy cuisine and trout.

Awards: Best of Class - San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Gold + Best in Class - LA International Wine Competition; 85 Points - Wine Enthusiast and Gold - San Diego International Wine Competition.

Serve these two Blanc de Blancs with these easy to make appetizers:



    1/2 cup whole milk
    1/2 cup water
    8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    A pinch of cayenne
    A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    5 large eggs, at room temperature
    1 1/2 cups coarsely grated cheese, such as Gruyère or cheddar (about 6 ounces)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (if you don’t feel like baking them all at once, you can freeze one tray).

Bring the milk, water, butter, salt, cayenne and nutmeg to a rapid boil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat to medium-low, and start stirring aggressively with a wooden spoon. The dough will come together and a light crust will form on the bottom of the pan. Keep going for another minute or two until the dough is smooth and pretty dry.

Now dump the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Let it sit for one minute, then add the first egg and beat the dough until the egg is incorporated. Keep going until you’ve used all the eggs and the dough is glossy.

Beat in the grated cheese

Immediately spoon out 1 tablespoon globs on to the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

If you want to bake them all at once, place them both in the oven and turn the oven temperature down to 375. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans from front to back and top to bottom. Continue baking until the gougères are golden, firm, and puffed, another 12 to 15 minutes or so. Serve warm.

*gougères make brilliant mini-rolls; slice each in half and fill with a slice of prosciutto and fresh arugula for a different hors d’oeuvre.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

Havarti en croute (easy)


Block of creamy Havarti Cheese (about 3/4 inch thick unsliced)
Dijon mustard
1 sheet puff pastry (frozen-defrosted)
fresh snipped dill (about 4 TBL)

Roll out the puff pastry sheet to accomodate the cheese, spead mustard in inside to cover lightly where cheese will sit in the middle. Add snipped dill, place cheese on top and paint cheese with a bit more mustard and add more snipped dill.

Wrap up cheese like a present and get a little fancy with crimping to make it look nice.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Bake in 375 degree oven until browned, about 25 minutes.

Number of servings: 8-10


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