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Taittinger Comtes de Champagne is the finest expression of the world famous wine from one of the greatest Champagne Houses. First produced in 1952, Comtes is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes from 5 Grand Cru sites in the Côte des Blancs. Showing a pristine pale yellow colour with very light, abundant bubbles which rise uniformly to form a fine mousse. The evocative bouquet opens with notes of pears and fresh cute white flowers. Left in the glass for a time, the nose develops a richness and density of pure character. Once on the palate, Comtes is lively, direct and precise with flavours of candied lemon zest and fresh pineapple. The balance is something to behold. This Champagne's marriage of finesse and aromatic intensity is a promise of further potential, but already offers very pleasurable drinking.
The blend. Produced in the cellars of the former Saint-Nicaise abbey (13th century) in Reims, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs receives all the lavish care and attention it needs to reach its peak. Every bottle of Comtes de Champagne strictly adheres to all of the following to make it such a rare luxury and the connoisseurs choice :
• The Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is composed exclusively of Chardonnay grown in the five villages of the Côte des Blancs, which are classified as Grands Crus: Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger.
• It is only produced when the harvest is of exceptional quality worthy of a vintage year.
• Only the wine from the first press – the Cuvée – is used: a sure guarantee of finesse.
• 5% of the wines used to make it have been aged for 4 months in new oak barrels (a third of which are renewed every year), enhancing the intrinsic qualities and complexities of the final blend.
• Only after slow and patient ageing for almost 10 years in the Saint-Nicaise chalk pits (Crayères) in 18 metres underground does this cuvée of exceptional quality come out into the light.
The pale golden yellow colour is illumina ted by almost fluorescent green highlights. The bead, particularly fine and abundant, rises steadily to form a light ring of froth. The very fresh nose opens on contrasting, intense yet subtle, grilled, toasty notes. These are followed by aromas of candied citrus peel, lemon and vanilla tart, roasted almonds and finally a floral hint of dried flowers and lime blossom. The initial impression on the palate is expressive and powerful, dominated by the vivacious citrus fruit, especially ripe lemon. Mid palate the flavour is more deli cate, with flavours of caramelised grape fruit. The lengthy rich finish reveals sweet liquorice notes.
A perfect marriage of delicacy and inten sity with freshness and harmony, Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2000 reveals the full ageing potential typical of the great chardonnays from the Côte des Blancs.
This wine will be appreciated at any celebration to enhance those wonder fully intense, rare moments. It will go very well with seafood or fish starters (such as white tuna carpaccio with truffles).
"We will never produce a large quantity of Comtes de Champagne because the technical characteristics we require so that this cuvee can be a very great wine are essentially unique in Champagne and very financially demanding. A triumphant blend of force and elegance, the Comtes de Champagne displays an eternal youth that it derives from the greatest Chardonnays of our province. Connoisseurs will appreciate it."
President of Champagne Taittinger
A warm and wet winter was followed by an equally wet spring. First, in May, came the seri- ous heat, which gave a fast owering around June 14. Chlorosis and mold growth were evi- dent. June and August were hot and dry. But if you were like me, and tried to have a July vaca- tion in Champagne that year, you noticed how cold and rainy it was. The weather was almost as bad as at home, with constant rain and local hailstorms.
Everything looked hopeless, but the good weather during harvest saved a decent amount of fresh grapes. Harvest started on my birthday—September 11—and ended in early October. Chardonnay and pinot meunier did better than the delicate pinot noir. The year will become sought after thanks to their magic number. The quality does not look too fancy yet though. The wines are quite light with short lives. However, it is a very enjoyable moment, with its intense exotic aromas of passion fruit and tangerine. I am delighted to recommend some romantic bottles of the successful pink trio William Deutz Rosé, Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé, and Pommery Cuvée Louise Rosé.
by Richard Juhlin/