The List




The List


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.