Random thoughts on the world of wine, presented in no particular order.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tasting the grand cuvee.

Through work yesterday, I had the opportunity to go to a very nice tasting (our last for the year, alas) -- wines for selling through the holidays.  We concentrated on sparkling wines, ranging from $8 cava through a $170 Krug Grand Cuvee.

Interestingly enough, the Krug was a late replacement for another bottle -- the 1998 Nicholas Feuilette Palmes D'Or, which we've had some quality control issues with (in fact, I got to taste the tester bottle of Palmes, and it's nothing like how the '97 I had last year was -- much more bitter.).

So, how was the Krug?

In a word, it was a razor-wire balance between weight and acidity, and Champagne Krug does this very well.   There's a unusual green-yellow cast to the wine in the glass, and it shows a lot of tart fruits (green apple, lime), and bracing, steely minerality.  It's a unique wine -- I've not had any Champagne that quite matches the style -- and I can understand how people would want to seek it out.  (93 points, if you're looking for a number and not a tasting note)

Is it worth $170 a bottle?

Well... if you've got $170 to blow on a bottle of wine, sure, why not!  Still, for the money, one could almost have a 6-pack of the best value Champagne from the tasting (the $30 GH Martel Brut Presteige -- much more yeasty/toasty than Krug, with more red fruit, but a great value and 91 points), or 4 of the second-best Champagne (the $45 DeMargerie Cuvee Special Grand Cru -- big, luxuriant wine with tons of red berries, tons of weight, and length.  92 points).

And that, I think, is the point of the luxe cuvees.  Are they better wines?  Yes.  Are they 4 times as good?  Not so much -- it's a very marginal difference.  So, really, when it comes time to buy a bottle of Champagne this year for a present... I don't think I'd go for a tete de cuvee.  Much more likely would be a bottle of a very good non-luxe cuvee, and some glassware.  Except for that one wine-geek friend who can really grok the difference (or, for that matter, for myself).

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