French Toast

The season calls for the best champs and French sparkling wine.

champagne

Champagne is one of the holiday season’s favored wines customarily opened to commemorate another year gone by or simply for an elegant evening with friends. Caviar lovers surely are no strangers to the extraordinary wines of Champagne, so who better to share his picks with Caviar Affair’s readers than Antonio Galloni, leading Champagne critic from the world-renowned eRobertParker.com and The Wine Advocate. He encourages wine lovers to experience the classics, as well as smaller, artisan growers. We’ll drink to that – Cheers!

1998 Krug
Blanc de Blancs
Clos du Mesnil

This is a remarkably taut, focused bottle of the 1998 with great energy and minerality in its precise, crystalline fruit. The finesse of the mousse and the persistence, especially on the finish, are pure Mesnil. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2028. $749-1,091.

NV Jacques Selosse
Extra Brut
Blanc de Blancs Substance

As if it were possible, the NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Substance takes things up a notch or three. Montrachet with bubbles might be a good description for this profound, utterly moving Champagne. Waves of rich, sensual fruit supported by French oak and persistent veins of minerality come together in this deep, totally satisfying wine. Even with all of its richness and depth, there is no sense of heaviness. This is a decidedly vibrant Substance with fewer of the more oxidative notes this solera-style Champagne sometimes presents. Disgorged October 2010. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2015. $300-380.

2004 Louis Roederer Cristal
The 2004 Brut Cristal is a powerful, structured Cristal layered with considerable fruit. Chardonnay seems to play the leading role in 2004, at least today. Cristal is often accessible young, but that is far from the case here. This is a serious, painfully young Cristal that will require considerable patience. Readers willing to spend some time with the wine today will find a super-impressive, complete Cristal. The 2004 Cristal is 60 percent Pinot Noir and 40 percent Chardonnay. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2034. $157-530.

2000 Taittinger Brut Blanc de Blancs
Comtes de Champagne

The 2000 Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne is a huge wine bursting with ripe varietal fruit, smoke, ash, crushed rocks and slate. This is an unusual Comtes that deftly balances richness and power while maintaining considerable minerality. The 2000 will be hard to resist in its youth, but should also age beautifully for a number of years. It is a stunning, flat-out great bottle. Disgorged October 2010. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2030. $103-180.

2004 Pierre Peters
Brut Cuvee
Speciale les Chetillons

The 2004 Brut Millesime Cuvee Speciale Les Chetillons is stratospheric. This is a cool, inward Chetillons endowed with breathtaking finesse. The 2004 is noticeably more vibrant and focused than the decidedly exuberant 2002. Ripe pears, almonds and jasmine are some of the notes that flesh out in this pure, energetic wine. Hints of chalk, smoke and ash wrap around the intense finish. This is easily one of the very finest of the 2004s that has been released so far. Peters’ objective with Les Chetillons is to make wine that expresses terroir rather than vintage. In 2004 Peters used only two of his three plots in Les Chetillons, as he wasn’t totally happy with the way one of the parcels responded in terms of the high yields that were typical that year. That level of attention to detail goes a long way in explaining why the 2004 is so exceptional. Disgorged March 2011. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2034. $99-119.