Events and Tastings

Big Wines & Bubbles: Artisan’s Holiday Classics Tasting

October 31, 2016 | Brian Freedman

The holiday season used to be so much easier: Break out the last of the summer’s rosé for Thanksgiving, the better to pair with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and the rest; the bubbly for New Year’s Eve, most likely a bottle from one of the big brands that everyone knows; and the Pinot or Cab for Christmas and Hanukkah. Aside from that, focus on whiskey to make it through all the parties and obligations of the five weeks between the turkey and the hangover-curing brunch on January 1st.

Times have changed dramatically. And thank goodness for that.

These days, that sort of cookie-cutter approach to holiday drinking just won’t, well, cut it. Because everyone, it seems, has gotten word that the wine world is as broad and as exciting as it’s ever been before. Whether people are staying home and celebrating with family or booking a table at their favorite restaurant, the expectation is the same: We’ve made it this far in the year, and we deserve to drink well, at whatever price point feels right. More and more consumers these days want to drink wines that are interesting, not just famous.

Which is why the Artisan’s Cellar hosted its “Holiday Classics” tasting at Drexel University’s Academic Bistro on October 31st. With the holiday season just then making its approach felt, the time had come to show Philadelphia’s wine-industry professionals exactly what Artisan’s had in stock to brighten up the season’s drinking.

The focus was on the classic growing regions that so many consumers gravitate toward this time of year, when popping corks from special or otherwise notable bottles feels like the right thing to do. And the team went all out, sampling everything from back-vintage beauties that had to be decanted well before the first guest arrived to side-by-side comparisons of Barolo and Barbaresco, and infinitely more.

What was most intriguing for many of the industry pros in attendance was having the opportunity to consider standout producers right alongside one another, which provided an astounding sense of context for what makes each one so unique and special within its category. Domaine Huber-Verdereau Pommard, for example, is always great, and the 2011 that was poured that day was no exception. And since this time of year is more or less synonymous with sparkling-wine consumption, we made sure to have plenty of them popped for the occasion, too. Gems like the Barbera - Croatina blend of the Cordani La Magia Gutternio Frizzante 2012, stunning Champagnes like the Lassaigne Vignes Rosé de Montgueux, and half a dozen other stellar sparklers were also poured and swooned over.

In all, more than 40 of Artisan’s top bottles were sampled that day, and enjoyed alongside all of the excellent cheese, charcuterie, and other goodies that Drexel generously provided to accompany the head-spinning range of wines. The holiday beverage season felt like it had officially begun. What a perfect way to ring in winter, and to prep our palates for the celebrations to come.