Imbibe: A Toast to the New Year

November 08, 2012
No tipple is more synonymous with celebration than a fine glass of Champagne, and Restaurant R'evolution in the Royal Sonesta is home to a stunning selection curated by Molly Wismeier, director of wine and spirits. The cave at R'evolution holds more than 1,300 selections, about 150 of which are bubbly - a testament to Wismeier's unabashed love of this notoriously difficult wine. Here, Wismeier selects a few of her favorite bottles to pair with a proper a holiday meal at R'evolution.

N.V. H Billiot Fils Champagne Brut Rose Grand Cru
Henri Billiot is one of the small grower/producers with a plum spot in Ambonnay, a sub-region in Champagne, and the vineyard releases less than 4,000 cases annually. Wismeier admits a particular soft spot for roses. "I love to introduce people to this one - it has incredible depth and finesse," Wismeier says. "People have this misperception than roses are sweet. This is dry, rich, with so many different layers of flavor, it can run the gamut of a meal - from first course oyster soup to crab beignets to beef tartare"...even steak."

N.V. Pierre Peters Le Mesnil sur Oger Grand Crus Cuvee de Reserve Brut
"Great value" and "luxury" aren't descriptions you'll hear in the same sentence often, but that's how Wismeier describes this bright, mineral-y sparkler from the Côtes des Blancs region. "It's one of those Champagnes you drink and say, 'Wow! What was that?' It's a memorable experience," Wismeier says. "You're drinking this non-vintage Champagne that has the intensity and beauty of a much more expensive wine. It's perfect for fish and oysters."

Special Club Champagne / Club Tresors de Champagne (Treasures of Champagne)
Think of Special Club Champagnes as the crème de la crème, a group of bubblies that represent the best of the best of "Grower Champagnes." To be a member of this group, you've got to grow your own grapes, a legal designation known as Recoltant-Manipulants (initials RM on the label). The exclusive group of 26 grower/producers submit their best and, after a rigorous selection process by members, choose the most exceptional Champagnes to be released in Special Club bottles embossed with the group's shield. Wismeier's pure enthusiasm about putting seven Special Club Champagnes on the list at R'evolution is palpable - something akin to Willie Wonka handing Charlie the keys to the chocolate kingdom. "I wanted to bring something different to New Orleans, and the ones on the list at R'evolution are all amazing in their own way," Wismeier says. "Choosing a favorite in this group is like selecting which one of your children you like better. Each one is incredible."