It came to Scotland through Franco-Scottish links, so my Hogmanay column has a strong Auld Alliance theme. Whether celebrating the bells at home, first footing friends with shortbread, tucking into a traditional black bun – or mixing your own New Year cocktails for your friends, here is something to suit all tastes.
FIZZ FOR THE BELLS
JP ROBERT BRUT RESERVE NV
(£26, Luvians; Tanners Wines)
Hard to beat this for a big, toasty, biscuity good value pinot noir-dominated champagne; made by the Robert brothers in Aube near Charles de Gaulle’s home town on the forgotten southern borders of Champagne.
WAITROSE OWN LABEL BRUT NV
(£19.99 or £39.99 magnum, Waitrose)
Made by the expert Charles Heidsieck team, this multi-awarded fizz should please the masses with a combination of elegant zing from chardonnay and deep fruity ripeness from pinot noir. Buy it in a magnum (to give you 12 glasses); the smaller ratio of air to fizz means it will taste even better.
MOET & CHANDON VINTAGE 2002
(£38, reduced from £50, Majestic Wine; Luvians)
While I am not normally a Moet fan, this is surely the best value vintage champagne on the market. Toasty, mocha, tobacco notes and citric nectarine flavours – quite delicious – at almost the same price as some non-vintage champagnes.
SWEET FRENCH FOR THE SHORTBREAD
Coteaux du Layon 2009 Domaine des Forges
A fabulous match with crumbly shortbread with its fruity sweetness and lemony freshness: sweet chenin blanc from one of the Loire’s most famous domaines.
STICKY FRENCH WITH BLACK BUN
MUSCAT DE RIVESALTES 2007 Domaine Brial
A fabulous honeyed sweet weighty ‘vin doux naturel’ to match with rich fruitcake; lighter in alcohol than many fortified wines; you could even serve this as an aperitif as the French do.
FIRST FOOT MALT
ARDBEG TEN YEARS OLD
(£32.26, Whisky Exchange; Royal Mile Whiskies; The Whisky Shop; Luvians; Villeneuve Wines)
If you are an island malt fan, try this peaty, dark chocolate, spicy nectar – the best of the Islay malts.
NEW YEAR COCKTAILS
CHASE MARMALADE VODKA
(£32-£35, Luvians; Sainsburys; Waitrose; Tesco)
Not very French or Scottish, but this wonderful new vodka was the brilliant star turn at our recent cocktail class. Herefordshire-based Tyrrells crisp makers first released this as a limited edition and it sold out instantly – now they have created this wonder in larger volume. It’s made by marinating English marmalade with potato vodka and infusing it with Seville orange peel in a copper pot still. Sip it neat over ice or mix it into one of these great winter cocktails.
40ml marmalade vodka; 20ml triple sec; 20ml lemon juice; heaped barspoon of marmalade
Shake and fine strain into chilled coupe glass; garnish with melba toast (recipe: Ross Purnell).
45ml marmalade vodka; 20ml chartreuse; 15ml lemon; 10ml sugar syrup; top up with fizz
Shake all ingredients together with ice; double strain into chilled coupe glasses (recipe: Pollen Street Social).