Although it hasn't yet brought us that lottery jackpot we've been angling for, we still like to indulge in a little magical thinking to welcome what we hope we will be a prosperous new year by splurging on Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne for the midnight toast. Commonly known as the Yellow Label, this beautifully balanced and elegant sparkling wine is the flagship cuvée of one of Champagne's prominent and venerable houses, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin of Reims. It is a good deal at $45 to $50 around the holidays and is widely available.
The cuvée is the wine that carries a grand house's signature style through the years, blended not only of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay grapes from vineyards throughout the region but also incorporating wines from an extensive library of reserve wines from years past, ensuring that the flavor and sparkle of the wine do not vary from year to year. A nice bonus at the holidays is special packaging, this year offering a sort of form-fitting overcoat meant to keep the Champagne chilled for up to two hours if you're off to a party.
The wine lives up to its reputation. Its tantalizing nose is zesty with lemon, a little vanilla and brioche. The bubbles in the glass are the platonic ideal of Champagne effervescence, rising steadily and persistently in a lively, lovely spiral. At first sip and last, those bubbles fill the mouth and tickle the nose. On the tongue this masterful blend delivers the refined lemon promised by its aroma and marries that with subtle notes of white peach, warm brioche and a hint of fresh apple. It finishes long and clean and peppy, with a perfect grace note of flinty minerality at the finale. Chin-chin!
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.