If you make only one New Year's resolution, this should be it: ring in 2004 with a single-vineyard champagne. Ninety percent of all French bubbly is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir that the top brands carefully mix to ensure consistency from year to year. Single-vineyard champagnes, however, are made from just one type of grape from a single plot of land and they're fast becoming the toast of champagne lovers everywhere.
Krug Clos Du Mesnil, for instance, comes from the first pressing of Chardonnay grapes picked from a single, walled-in vineyard in a former Benedictine monastery. The 1990 vintage gives a crisp, aromatic mouthful with a long, lingering finish. Quantities are limited, however. With only 10,000 bottles for sale, the Clos Du Mesnil 1990 is "the Krug of the Krug in terms of size," explains Olivier Krug, whose family has been making champagne for six generations. If you can't get hold of it, try Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises, made from the fruit of hand-cultivated Pinot Noir vines, or Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs, a 100% Chardonnay champagne only produced when the conditions are perfect.
"Winemakers are over the moon to be able to showcase the individual nuances within their vineyards," says Hong Kong-based wine retailer Michael Robertson. And so will you be when you try the results. Here's to a fizzy New Year.