Everyday: I discovered a few years back that my favorite Chiantis were from the Ruffina sub-region (not to be confused with the Ruffino brand). They tend to have Old World earthiness but don’t taste “dirty” like so many other Chiantis. The readily accessible (both commercially and imbibingly) Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Reserva ($20) is uncommonly smooth and clean but still very bright, with seamless harmony among the tannins, minerality, fruit and acidity. It’s tasteful and tasty, and should taste lovely with the usual tomato-based dishes (pasta sauces, pizza) but also with roasted chicken and root vegetables.
Occasion: Besides my way better half, the companion I most hope to enjoy on New Year’s Eve is Pierre Gimonnet; every bottle I’ve ever sampled with his name on the label has been fantabulous. The 2005s, both the crisp, full-flavored Pierre Gimonnet Blanc de Blancs “˜$54) and the large and in charge Blanc de Blancs Brut 1er Cru Fleuron ($72). are delicious yeast bombs, rich but seriously zingy, firm and focused, dancing sensuously across the palate and lingering into the new year. You are hereby challenged to find anything that doesn’t pair well with these sparklers, but sushi, oysters and lobster would top my list.