Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc des Blancs
Champagne can have a strange effect on the average
consumer. The mere notion of a fancy label and a few bubbles
seems to be able to part a person from at least four or five
times the amount of cash that they would be willing to spend
on a ‘normal’ bottle of wine.
This is, of course, primarily a consequence of the wine’s
longstanding association with luxury; an association which
the Champenois have cleverly cultivated for more than one
and a half centuries – witness Laurent Perrier’s use of an
early form of celebrity product endorsement by the opera
singer, Adelina Patti, in the nineteenth century. Champagne
is the drink of success, we have been led to believe, and to
drink it is demonstrate to yourself and the outside world
that you too are successful.
This has created a bit of a problem, though, in that many
of the more high profile champagnes, from the likes of Louis
Roederer and Krug, have become associated with a particular
type of person; a type of person who is mostly interested in
the outward messages of wealth that these super cuvees
convey. Consequently, ordering such a bottle in a
restaurant, or even opening one at a dinner party, can, by
association, seem like a slightly vulgar act of ostentation;
a bit like owning a modern Bentley.
For those who wish to avoid this, our recommendation is
Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs – a wine
that, with class, finesse and a thankfully low profile,
expresses as much that is great about champagne than any of
what might be termed the ‘show-off champagnes’.
The marque itself, although not as well known, perhaps,
as Bollinger or Moet et Chandon, is actually the third
oldest champagne house in France, tracing its origins back
to 1734. Comtes de Champagnes is its prestige cuvee, and is
available either as a rose, or as a 100% chardonnay white
champagne. The latter is produced from grapes primarily
sourced from grand cru vineyards, and around 5% of the wine
is aged in one third new oak.
The end result in our recommended vintage – the 1995 – is
a wine that provides nutty and caramely notes on the nose,
and, on the palate, gives fine creaminess, complemented by
an elegant structure with well balanced acidity. There is
also the notion of crème caramel or perhaps crème brulee,
and a lovely biscuity after-taste from the long finish. It
will also continue to develop well in the bottle until at
least 2015, and, at around half the price of many of the
better known super cuvees, it does not require an
exceptional celebration to warrant opening a bottle or two.