All that glitters is not gold. Likewise, all that sparkles is not champagne – that legally protected appellation is, of course, bestowed only upon wine produced to exacting standards in France’s Champagne region.
Very few things are as satisfying as good champagne, and there’s rarely a bad time for a glass. Indeed, as Lily Bollinger of the bubbly dynasty remarked, “I only drink champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes, I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not in a hurry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch the stuff, unless I am thirsty.”
Champagne is an inherently celebratory drink and the Grandes Marques (champagne houses) are always ready to toast the release of a great vintage. Happily, so are we. Here are three recently released vintage tipples well worth investing in.
1 | Dom Perignon P2, 1998
Dom Perignon doesn’t release vintages in a weak year; its chefs de cave discovered even a great yield can be improved with further ageing. There are three stages of development, called plénitudes, by which champagne can “evolve”; P2 1998 is in its second plénitude and is very special indeed. It features Dom’s typical creamy mouth-feel, with an added dark, mineral, spiced complexity.
2 | Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs, 2004
Pol Roger’s 2004 Blanc de Blancs (made only from chardonnay) is elegant but has added character from the ageing process. This variety will be delightful this year, but should continue to drink very well for the next 10 years, too.
£279 per six-bottle case in bond, bbr.com
3 | Bollinger RD, 2002
RD translates as “recently disgorged”, a reference to the pioneering technique introduced by the formidable Madame Bollinger in 1967, which used champagne aged along with its sediment for far longer in the Bollinger cellars, resulting in enormous complexity and maturity. The 2002 is one of the most promising vintages of the last decade, making it a worthy investment (if you can resist quaffing it).