Champagne is expensive, and many consumers wonder if the reward is worth the
expense. It’s a difficult question, because a bottle of wine is ultimately
“worth” what someone is willing to pay for it. Still, there’s no doubt that
drinking tête de cuvee Champagne is
an exhilarating experience. These bottles get the best of everything: the
finest grapes, a maximum of cellar age, and the combined skill of an
experienced winemaking team.
is probably the luxury Champagne brand most recognizable to the average person,
whereas Krug is a wine for connoisseurs. The styles of the two houses are very
different. Dom tends to be ripe, forward and accessible, while Krug is a
complex product that is sometimes difficult to appreciate. They both have their
place at the table and in our social lives, but the question still persists in the mind of the average consumer: What can these wines possibly taste like, to be worth the money they sell for? Here are some recent impressions:
Brut 2006 ($160)
The nose is
rich and full, with whiffs of lemon, lime and ripe melon. The wine is even more
satisfying in the mouth, exhibiting a full-bodied array of stone fruit and
citrus. Dom Pérignon is not known for its acidity, and the texture here is lush
and soft: this is a crowd-pleaser, rather than a bottle for wine geeks. It
finishes long, with a touch of yeast and sweetness.
P2 Plenitude Brut 2000 ($325)
known as the Oenothèque Series, this range of older vintages is kept aging in
the cellar until disgorgement and release. The 2000 is more deeply colored than
the 2006, with a far more complex nose: hints of ginger and candied pear mix
with toasty vanilla. It’s more complex in the mouth as well, exhibiting a
Sherry-like overlay of flavor on a background of freshness. The wine is
amazingly youthful at 17, and finishes with intertwining flavors of ripe pear and
stone fruit. A magnificent Champagne.
Cuvée, 164th Edition ($160)
gained fame as a “multi-vintage,” a blend of ten or twelve older reserve wines
in different batches and proportions. This version has a recessed, earthy nose
with some fruit lurking underneath, but you need to coax it to reveal itself.
It’s far more expressive in the mouth: rich and full-bodied, the wine really
announces its presence and simply grabs you. By the mid palate, the power has
been replaced by a range of ripe fruit flavors---apple, melon, pear, stone
fruits and citrus. The finish is long and mouthwatering.
Pleasant aromas of red fruits mix with fresh herbs and mint on the nose. In the mouth, the style is still controversial: ripeness that is almost excessive, combined with a sensory overload of plump rhubarb, red currant and raspberry. The texture is racy, exotic and distinctive, and the wine cries out for lamb, a saddle of venison, a night by the fire.