Category Archives: Champagne

Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Millesime 2002

pierre-paillandFrance, $79

I appreciate that the first newsletter of 2014 should probably start on a more affordable, approachable note—but let’s save that for next week. This week I want to brag about great bottles enjoyed over the holidays. Like vintage Italian sports cars, aged Champagne is one of those things that’s equally enchanting and generally unattainable. And while there’s no denying the charm of a bottle of the recent release from one of the prestige houses, it’s also true that Cremant from France or Cava from Spain offer a pretty excellent facsimile of the experience at a fraction of the cost. There’s no replicating the taste of aged champagne—the yeasty, toasty, soul warming yellow-hued glow that replace the zip and freshness after a few years simply doesn’t exist anywhere outside of Champagne. The downside: You can imagine the costs of buying a bottle of Dom Perignon—which hovers around $200+ on release— that’s been aged. Crazy. Expensive. But for New Year’s my brother-in-law Clarke showed up with the above bottle. Small producer, great pedigree, 12 years of bottle age. It was amazing with a gorgeous deep golden hue and a long rich finish. I wasn’t familiar with the bottle, so I had the good grace to wait until Clarke left to look up the price, which at $79 isn’t cheap, but it’s a bargain for all these elements coming together in one bottle.

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Taittinger Nocturne Series

France, $90


There’s no wine I’m more conflicted by than true French Champagne. On the one hand, it’s by definition expensive and its creation doesn’t follow the rules of vintage and terrior that we expect from everybody else. On the other hand, there’s nothing more exciting than getting a bottle of great champagne as a gift. And choosing your brand is no small choice. In this way it has more in common with cars and fashion that it does with other wine. Are you a BMW or a Bentley person, Boss or Zegna, Dom or Cristal? My personal choice was birthed by two occasions—the privatization of liquor stores in Alberta in the early 90s which made it, for a while, one of the cheapest places to buy Champagne in the world. And my childhood love of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. Forget what you see in the movies —especially the Roger Moore ones—James Bond drank Taittinger.

Can one man be so shallow you ask? Sort of. I love drinking other brands too, Krug and Veuve Le Grand Dame are also faves, but if you ask me what brand I identify with the most its Taittinger. So how happy am I that we now have these two new bottles just in time for Christmas? The Nocturne Rose for BC and the Sec for Alberta. Both have the same blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier but the rose gets an extra shot of red to get the rose colour (Champagne’s unique way of making rose). Both have been laid down for four year, and let’s be honest, both pretty much say it’s time to celebrate now at a fraction of the price of an Aston Martin.

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