My local wineshop recommended a (gently priced) bottle of sparkling for our celebration of the New Leap Year: a 2005 Crémant de Bourgogne from Bailly Lapierre. A sparkling wine vinifed from Pinot Noir grapes, it's lightly toasty, sweet, and nutty, with a hint of green apples.
But we were surprised — although we shouldn't have been — by the greater complexity of Cantillon's Rosé de Gambrinus. A raspberry gueuze-lambic beer — tart and earthy, this truly is one of the world's great beverages.
My brother drove down from Wisconsin with some fine cheeses (and his spiced Christmas ale homebrew).
However, earlier in the evening, I had prepared a non-cheese Mac 'un' Cheese, from a recipe I found on the vegan food blog Eat Air, and adapted. Very tasty.
We drank Dominion Brewery Winter Brew with it, a 6.5% alcohol by volume deep-amber ale brewed with Northdown, Mount Hood, and Summit hops. That blend yields less of the typical American grapefruit hop essence and more of pine and herbs. And there's a good sweet-toasted malt character. Recommended.
[ "I introduced Dominion to Mount Hood hops," Bob Tupper amiably ribbed brewer Favio Garcia about the Winter Brew at the recent Winter Beer Tasting at the Brickskeller in Washington, D.C.
Dominion had only rarely used Mount Hood hops until Tupper contracted with the brewery to brew his Tupper's Hop Pocket Ale in 1995 - which shows a strong aroma of those hops. Now, having severed ties to Dominion after its recent sale, Tupper is still searching for a new brewery to contract brew his beer. ]
The cheeses my brother brought were —
- from Wisconsin: Brennan's Market Black Pepper Gouda and Brennan's 10 year Aged Cheddar.
- from England: Hawes Wensleydale from Neals Yard Dairy.
By the way, there are 5 Fridays in February of this leap year. That's one extra day of work ... but not one extra day of pay.