Six Of The Season’s Best Champagnes
There’s no denying this time of year is well-endowed with prompts to pop the corks.
Seasonal drinking is not necessarily a concept to which we subscribe.
The nimble drinker can find a way to justify drinking whatever takes their fancy, no matter where they find themselves on the planet’s celestial tilt.
But there’s no denying this time of year is well-endowed with prompts to pop the corks on great bottles of fizz. Non-vintage offerings remain strong from those houses priding themselves on managing consistency with gentle evolution, and spectacular wines built on exceptional vintages like 2008 and 2012 are prime candidates for the well-maintained cellar.
The increasing number of small “grower” champagnes offer an ever diversifying range of drinking experiences for those prepared to explore beyond the Grande Marques. But be aware that such abundance may be impacted by the various problems currently besetting the global shipping industry. We may find ourselves in the sunny days of summer right now, but the sensible squirrel will be stocking up for a potentially bleak winter ahead.
Exceptional vintages bring with them high expectations, and few wines from this blessed season arrive with greater anticipation than this. Consider those expectations met. And exceeded. Symphonic in scope and Byzantine in its complex layering, Krug’s 2008 is a wide-screen epic of a wine that is destined to live on in legend.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2008
The compelling counterpoint to the Krug, this is the precise laser opposed to Krug’s cascading fireworks, built on a beautifully fine acid line, finely woven with expressive grapefruit and white peach characters and finished with a micro-fine chalkiness. Some say it’s perfect. They might just be right.
Bollinger has always been a house associated with depth, detail and power, and this wine, an interpretation of the complicated 2013 harvest built on pinot noir, is very true to form. Ripe orchard fruits, baked pastries topped with grilled nuts, even a hint of roasted coffee all wrapped around a finely fleshy wine of daunting length.
Dom Perignon 2012
The challenging 2012 weather produced some great champagne, like this effusive and detailed Dom. The wine delivers richness with restraint, offering up a range of ripe fruits—think dried pear and peach, some baked apple too—alongside hints of pipe tobacco, baked brioche and preserved lemon. Power without excess, fine balance and enduring length.
Gosset Blanc de Noirs NV
The wines of Gosset, the oldest champagne house still in existence are sublime, an effusive expression of forest berries, pain d’épices and creamed honey. An indulgent seven years maturing on its yeast lees imparts cavernous complexity, the wine revealing itself in almost endless layers. It is a champagne designed for serious contemplation and reflection.
Larmandier Bernier Latitude NV
Pierre and Sophie Larmandier have long been leaders of the grower champagne movement, making minerally textured wines that speak more of geology than botany. Citrus freshness, some toasty complexity from oak maturation of base wines and the distinctive crystalline crunch for which they’re known are all at play here.