Our over $100 Cham­pagnes prove the big houses are still set­ting the stan­dard, writes JOHN SAKER.

Cuisine - - CHAMPAGNE $100 & UNDER -

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 ★★★★★


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)


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


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