Profile On the nose, sweet notes of coconut, croissant, and crushed almonds mingle with citrus and honeysuckle. The lively palate reveals mineral undertones layered below orange and lemon zest, smoke and a dash of sea salt. Unfolds with precision, length and clarity. Thrilling.
Barrel and Long Lees Aged, The Tipple of James Bond…
Bollinger RD 2002, $350
This independent, family house has a predilection for Pinot Noir and aging in oak. In the 1960s, Lily Bollinger combined those style decisions with exceptionally long lees aging to create the RD. The initials stand for Récemment Dégorge or Recently Disgorged. Her idea was to show Champagne lovers how the extra time on spent yeast transforms a wine. The blend is 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 71% of which is sourced from grand crus the remainder from premier cru vineyards. The wine matures nearly three times longer than required by the appellation.
Profile On the nose, one senses weight and power backed by aromas of lemon peel, ripe golden apple, nutmeg, and white chocolate flan. The creamy, full-bodied palate yields richness and depth balanced by striking acidity. Finishes long and layered with a tinge of lemon pith. A last supper wine.
Not Just For Kings...
Louis Roederer Cristal 2009, $250
Can we finally disentangle Cristal from Russians and rappers, and view it objectively for the fine wine that it is? While it does have a regal pedigree, created originally for Tsar Alexander II, later adopted by the country’s oligarchs, then prized and discarded by America’s hip hop royalty, the bubbles in the bottle transcend those associations. Only produced as a vintage wine, 2009 is the current release. Composed of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from grand cru fruit from the Reims mountain, the Marne Valley, and Côte des Blancs.
Profile Enticing aromas hint at warm brioche, toasted nuts, lemon, white peach and red berries. On the palate, the texture is supple, the fruit flavors ripe and rich, but focused acidity provides tension and frame. Ginger spice, apple, and pastry linger on the energetic finish. Superb.
When Rosé Is Required…
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé 2006, $260
Founded by Jacques Fourneaux in 1734, Pierre Taittinger bought the property and relaunched it under his family’s surname in 1932. At one point, the brand was sold to the Starwood Hotel Group, but the family bought it back less than a year later. Taittinger is known for using a higher proportion of Chardonnay, and for its extensive vineyard holdings. Produced only in exceptional years, Comtes Rosé is made from 100% grand cru grapes. The Chardonnay comes from prestigious vineyards in the Côte des Blancs, and the Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims.
Profile Offers a refined and complex nose of cherries, raspberries, rose petals, nuts, and anise. The creamy palate leads with red berry fruit, then develops into tea, toast and licorice on the structured midpalate. Finish is long and complex, juicy and fresh. Worth every dollar.
The Art of Blending…
Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle, $150
Rather than declare a vintage wine as its prestige expression, Laurent-Perrier adheres to its blending philosophy; a logical move given the house views the sculpting of Champagne from different vineyard sites and points in time an art. The blend consists of 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir, made exclusively from grand cru grapes of three complementary, declared vintage years. The concept of Grand Siècle launched in 1959, the vision of late leader Bernard de Nonancourt.
Profile Lovely, fragrant nose of wildflower honey, sweet orange, toasted almonds, and brioche. Textured on the palate, offers similar aromatic notes plus gingerbread and a subtle nuttiness. Structured and complex yet elegant. Brilliant.