What to drink this week

2002 Cham­pagne

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook -

For all the un­cer­tainty in the air, I hope you will be able to join me in toast­ing the end of sum­mer with some­thing he­do­nis­tic, mem­o­rable and—i know this may sound pre­ten­tious, but bear with me—per­haps uniquely beau­ti­ful. I’m talk­ing about an ob­ses­sion of mine, the 2002 vin­tage in Cham­pagne.

Theyõre tricky to get hold of, but these bub­bles are worth the ef­fort, en­cour­ages Harry Eyres

Why you should be drink­ing it

I’ve men­tioned 2002 be­fore as a su­perb year in Cham­pagne, but the spe­cial­ness of this vin­tage is re­veal­ing it­self more and more as time goes on. Why spe­cial? That year was ex­cep­tional nowhere else in Europe and pretty or­di­nary in many places (Bordeaux, the Douro, Chi­anti), but, some­how, Cham­pagne lucked out, with per­fect late-sum­mer weather. Most vin­tages are thought to be ready at seven or eight years old, but, at that age, 2002 was nowhere near its best. Krug only un­veiled its 2002 Vin­tage and Clos du Mes­nil this spring and other 2002 wines have yet to be re­leased.

What to drink

Sadly, just as they’re reach­ing their peak, 2002 vin­tage Cham­pagnes are be­com­ing hard—although not im­pos­si­ble—to get hold of. From the ex­cel­lent small house of Bil­le­cart-salmon, the Cu­vée NF 2002 (£118; www.he­do­nism.co.uk) is sump­tu­ously rich and full. Scour auc­tion cat­a­logues for the drier, su­per-fine Bruno Pail­lard Blanc de Blancs 2002. For a win­ning com­bi­na­tion of power and flo­ral del­i­cacy, try Pol Roger’s ma­jes­tic Cu­vée Sir Win­ston Churchill 2002 (£127.50; www.four­wall­swine.com). At an even more rar­efied level, Krug’s re­cently re­leased 2002 Vin­tage (right, £259.95; www.the­finest bub­ble.com) is ev­ery­thing you could hope for: a truly beau­ti­ful, volup­tuous, mul­ti­lay­ered wine, with each el­e­ment in per­fect bal­ance.

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