This week brought an occasion to celebrate; after several months of heated battle in bankruptcy court, a judge ruled my family could maintain ownership of Creative Loafing. My parents started the paper in 1972 in Atlanta and it's never been controlled by anyone else. To the say the least, losing the company to a hedge fund would have been devastating. And although I don't reserve bubbly for special occasions only, they definitely merited the moment.
To get the party started, I reached not for French Champagne, but gasp! California sparkling wine. It's cheaper, just as tasty and the shop handily had enough so the Tampa CL staff could their buzz on together. We sighed relief, toasted and CEO brother Ben said a few inspirational words as I rejoiced in the elegant joy of a brilliant wine.
It took a while for the French to admit that soil and climate in Cali could produce a grog worthy of their name. Louis Roederer Champagne staked their claim to possibilities on our West Coast in 1982, buying up acres of land 125 miles north of San Francisco in Mendocino County's Anderson Valley. Back then, Mendo wasn't much more than a smattering of vineyards and cached marijuana farms (which remain today), so Roederer took a huge jump of faith by settling there. Other French Champagne houses Mumm and Taittinger, among others took the easy road in Sonoma and Napa Valley but Roederer thought pinot noir and chardonnay could thrive in Mendo. Taste for yourself in this bottle.
Roederer Estate Brut smacks of green apple and pear tossed with roasted walnuts and a handful of wheat germ. Slightly sweet, bready and creamy, it has an acidic finish that's tinged with vanilla and lemon. Costs around $22 per bottle at local wine shops.