If you are in the mood to ‘splash out’ you will be delighted, says JOHN BELSHAM.
THE TERM ‘tête de cuvée’ can be used to define any house’s top blend, however it is mostly reserved for the very finest blends of Champagne. These wines are produced from the best fruit from the best sites. They are aged in the cellars for many years or even decades prior to disgorging and release. The wines may be defined by a certain vineyard or unique house character. They may also be from a declared vintage. Vintage declarations are the ultimate decision of each house but are only released from exceptional years and with careful consideration. These wines are priced to reflect the superior level of time, effort, pedigree and skill afforded to these very special blends. Money does not always buy good taste however it can buy a great tasting. All of the Champagnes were judged and scored without knowledge of price. However, once the submissions were tabulated by price, after the tasting, it was of no surprise that many of the wines that achieved our greatest accolades have a price tag to match. If you are in the mood to ‘splash out’ you will be delighted with the luxurious offerings listed.
JUDGING PROTOCOL All wines were evaluated blind and awarded stars without knowledge of their price. Following this, the stewards sorted the wines into those under $100 and those priced $100 and over. The judges then ranked these wines in the separate groups without changing any of the original awards. The lists are presented in this way for your convenience.
STYLISTICALLY THE Taittinger house style is refined and elegant (think Grace Kelly). They maintain a high percentage of chardonnay in all of their cuvées and Comtes de Champagne is a pure expression of the grape. This is a generous, yet supple expression of chardonnay balanced with pitch-perfect tension and acidity. The balance of concentration and fruit ripeness is exquisite with exemplary length, mousse and texture that gracefully dances across the palate. Aromas of flint and soft spices are followed by a textural cacophony of ripe lemon, toasty brioche and a savoury finish. The 2006 vintage marks the 26th release of this wine since 1952.
FAMILY HISTORY Although their deep, chalk cellars date to the eighteenth century, the Taittinger family were Parisian wine merchants until Pierre Taittinger purchased the winery in 1932 from the Forest- Fourneaux family. In 1934 he purchased the Château de la Marquetterie and its 16 hectares of cru vineyards. Today Taittinger is led by the effervescent Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger alongside his daughter Vitalie and son Clovis who are actively involved in daily operations. Since taking over the reins in 2006, Pierre-Emmanuel has successfully grown Taittinger to become the sixth largest Champagne-producing house, while keeping quality at its fundamental core. Champagne is serious business, however Pierre-Emmanuel, with his ‘joie de vivre’, would be the first to say, “Relax and enjoy the moment.”
Aged for a minimum of three years on lees, the 2012 evokes …2
With a fabulous mousse weight and dimension this is a powerful wine …3
A pretty, pale-salmon hue catches the eye while aromas of rose, lemon …4
Finely structured with a crisp herbal note, this pretty, salmon-coloured rose begins …5
A refreshing, crisp style that is tight yet precise and elegant in …6
Like a flower in bloom, the wine has restrained aromas on a …7
Subtle aromas of white flowers and soft fruits give way to a …8
Lovely fine lines of fruit are balanced with a crisp acidity that …9
Pink, pretty and fresh. Soft wild strawberry aromas sit on a fresh, …10