EXCELLENCE & PRESTIGE
Our over $100 Champagnes prove the big houses are still setting the standard, writes JOHN SAKER.
THE DENIZENS OF Champagne were the progenitors of the bottle-fermented style of sparkling wine and remain well installed as the perennial standard setters. Our over $100 Champagne bracket contains many of the finest styles they are able to produce, wines that are synonymous the world over with excellence and prestige. These wines, and those in the $100 & Under Champagne category, were all tasted together blind by the Cuisine panel and only separated out after their star ratings had been awarded.
The sparkling wine and Champagne $100 & under tasting panel also tasted Champagne over $100.
1 TOP CHAMPAGNE OVER $100 Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002 $315 ★★★★★
THIS WINE ELICITED
high scores and fulsome praise from every member of the panel. It was the oldest Champagne at the tasting but you wouldn’t know it in the way it sashayed across the palate with charm and vigour. The flavours are amazing – citrus, pencil shavings and a subtle smokiness. “Lingering and beautiful,” opined Tony Jordan. (B)
AN ELEGANT & DARING LEGACY
It takes more than an exceptional vintage for Piper-Heidsieck to create the prestige cuvée it calls “Rare”. It has to be truly remarkable. Since the release of the first Rare over 40 years ago, only eight vintages have met the standards Piper-Heidsieck has set for itself in the creation of this remarkable wine. The 2002 rendition is a blend of 70 per cent chardonnay and 30 per cent pinot noir and is made using fruit parcels drawn from a royal circle of Champagne sites – villages like Oger, Villers-Marmery and Avize for the chardonnay and Verzy for the pinot noir. The wine is matured for over seven years in the Piper-Heidsieck cellars before being made ready for release. Overseeing the creation of the 2002 was cellarmaster Régis Camus, who had only that year taken over the reins from Daniel Thibault. When he took the job (after serving an eight-year apprenticeship) he said that he wanted to continue a legacy of creating elegant and daring wines: “For that I would have to be daring, establish some real standpoints and rethink every stage from vine to wine.”
2 / Dom Pérignon Vintage 2006 ★★★★★ $219
Half wine, half legend – which this 2006 version certainly lives up to. The aromatics are refined but thrilling; in the mouth yellow fruit notes are laced with a fine, flinty, reductive thread. “Very elegant, even and long,” noted Tony Jordan. “It’s beautifully balanced,” added John Saker. “A wonderful combination of grandeur and finesse.” (C)
3 / Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut 2006 ★★★★★ $395
A Champagne with a great success record at Cuisine, this vintage being no exception. Made with nothing but chardonnay from some of the region’s best vines, it offers aromas redolent of roasted nuts, citrus and edgy minerality. In the mouth it is refined and organised in structure but also seductively juicy. It glides to a lingering dry finish. A truly wonderful drink, by any measure. (F)
4 / Taittinger Prélude Grands Cru Brut NV ★★★★★ $125
Taittinger’s famous non-vintage blend of fruit from grand cru sites (chardonnay from the Côte de Blancs, pinot noir from the Montagne de Reims) is all harmony and class. Apple and white flower notes dance across the palate elegantly and seamlessly, with mineral and toast in the background. Precise, juicy and persistent. (F)
5 /Bollinger Rosé NV ★★★★★ $139
This captivating rosé has that classic, bronzed “partridge eye” hue. Attractive developed scents (pointing to a base wine with plenty of age) lead through to an engaging, creamy-textured palate. Sweet strawberries and cream flavours, plus a touch of spice, carry to a long, fine finish. A delicious, moreish style. (D)
“The top labels of the Grandes Marques continue to demonstrate that Champagne at this level is a master class in precision, complexity and luxuriousness.” JOHN BELSHAM
Beau Joie Rosé NV ★★★★ $139.90 Presented in a bottle distinctively enmeshed in copper casing (apparently it keeps the Champagne cooler for longer), this is a fresh, quite fruit-forward style brimming with berryfruit and red apple notes. It is carried by a lovely line of acidity and lifted by fresh, creamy mousse. (A) Ayala Brut Rosé Majeur NV ★★★★ (D) $110 Charles Heidsieck Brut Vintage 2005 ★★★★ (B) $118 Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV ★★★★ (E) $106.50 Taittinger Brut Reserve Vintage 2009 ★★★★ (F) $136 Taittinger Les Folies de la Marquetterie NV ★★★★ (F) $125 DISTRIBUTORS To source wines listed, contact the distributor, indexed by letter. (A) Brandhouse: 027 483 9923 (B) Glengarry: 0800 733 505 (C) Moët Hennessy: 0800 226 650 (D) Negociants NZ: 0800 634 624 (E) Pernod Ricard NZ: 0800 655 550 (F) Vintners NZ: 09 621 0210