Krug Clos d’Ambonnay
All of the Krug varietals are serious wines, but if you can get your hands on a bottle of Krug’s Clos d’Ambonnay, you’ll officially be holding one of the finest bottles of Champagne in the world. The cuvée is made with a particular Pinot Noir grape in a very small, walled, 0.68-hectare plot from the heart of Ambonnay, one of the most prestigious villages for Champagne in the world. The most recent release for the Brut Blanc de Noirs is 1999, which goes for about $1,965. Last February, Haute Living sat down with Krug CEO Maggie Henriquez to find out what makes their Champagne so special.
Krug Clos du Mesnil
This variety is similar in preciousness to the Clos d’Ambonnay, but it is made in a slightly larger walled plot of Chardonnay grapes harvested in a single year. Just to give you a feeling of the bucolic surroundings in which this grape was raised, the plot has been overlooked by a church and producing wine since 1698. Precious indeed. The most recent vintage that has been released is 2003.
Dom Pérignon P2 1998
While the “best” this and the “best” that are often a matter of taste, Dom Pérignon recently surged ahead into indisputable territory with the release of their P2 1998 Vintage Champagne that retails for $375. P2 stands for second plentitude, or the second leap forward that champagne takes while aging. All Dom Pérignon is vintage (never sold as Non-Vintage or “NV” like daily drinkers Veuve Clicquot), but most is aged between seven to ten years, like the current 2004 vintage Dom Pérignon that is sold for $169. And if you’re wondering if that bottle of 1998 Dom you’ve had since 2008 is just as good—it’s not. The vinter is able to age Champagne quite differently, without oxygen exposure that occurs just before it is sold. Like all good things, P2 is a very limited release and you’ll need to use your best connects, not your corner liquor store, to get a bottle.
Champagne Henriot 1998 Cuvée des Enchanteleurs
The Cuvée des Enchanteleurs is named for the cellar workers who used to shift barrels full of wine onto gantries (chantiers in French) for extended aging. These workers were offered a pretty special perk: the right to create their own Champagne from the finest wines. You may not be familiar with this Champagne mason, but Wine Spectator is and describes this cuvée as “like finely woven silk, this offers beautiful texture, sublime balance and integration. Rich apple pastry, candied orange peel, crystallized honey and dried apricot flavors are layered with hints of smoke, sea salt and toasted nuts.”
BILLECART-SALMON Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon 2002
This rosé is a great way to ring in the new year, or simply spend a celebratory afternoon in St. Barths. An extra sunny summer in 2002 led this to be an excellent year, for the great Champagne with the funny name.
Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Rosé 2006
You didn’t think we’d leave the famous Cristal off the list, did you? It’s not just a bunch of hype, Cristal is really great Champagne, but its clear glass bottle requires a bit more sensitivity in transportation and storage. While the drink went through its heyday with the hip-hop set, it’s the Tsar’s who were famous fans of the Louis Roederer.
Champagne Piper Heidsieck Rare 2002
Piper Heidsieck doesn’t release vintages very often and the Rare 2002 is only the eighth to be released since the inaugural 1976. This fruity blend is 70 percent Chardonnay and 30 percent Pinot Noir, and the kind of thing you would find served before dinner on a real French estate.
Champagne Perrier-Jouët 2006 Belle Epoque Brut
Their famous enamel flower takes a beautiful turn with their Belle Epoque, a rich, full-bodied wine with a crisp edge and tight bubbles. Either way there is no way to go wrong with this Epernay-based bubbly.