Expensive champagnes generally need a really, really special occasion to justify popping them. Can you think of an occasion when you could justify spending $300-$500 on a bottle of wine?
For most people they would be times that are “all about you”. It’s your wedding, a milestone birthday, a significant anniversary, a monumental occasion (retirement, big promotion), or perhaps the birth of your baby (but wait until you’re not breastfeeding and your baby-daddy bloody well better be paying!)
So would you really pay up to AU$350 for a bottle of wine?
I totally accept that some people will say no bottle of wine is worth that price. And you know what? I am totally OK with that. But if you are a YES person, I would absolutely encourage you to find out (in a casual discussion) with your friends and loved ones… and take notes on their attitudes to buying very expensive champagnes!
‘Coz here’s the thing… if you do open one of these expensive champagnes on really, really special occasions no one is going to say ‘no’ to a free glass. But if they aren’t willing to ever put their money where their mouth is, I wouldn’t be pouring them a glass!!!!! Harsh, but fair… and it will mean all the more for you.
Se let’s kick off this list but don’t forget to check out my top 5’s for:
Five fabulous expensive champagnes for a really, really special occasion
1. Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque
La Belle Epoque translates as the ‘beautiful era’ which was a period in French history that ended just before World War I. But any time you’re drinking this wine, life is beautiful.
The one word I use to describe Perrier-Jouët champagnes is delicate. Delicate and beautiful, as if the beauty of the flowers on the bottles really does transcend the glass and seep into the wines.
The current vintage of the Belle Epoque is the 2011. The Belle Epoque has a really sweet floral smell but a stronger, fresh and vibrant citrus taste that makes me think of spring! I love the delicacy and gentle flavours of the Belle Epoque Rosé… and get a lot of zestiness with a hint of pink grapefruit-like bitter edge that’s complemented by a sweet, smooth caramel.
The Belle Epoque wines are strong chardonnay blends (which is where the fresh, citrus zest comes from)…they are 50% Chardonnays, 45% Pinot Noirs and 5% Pinot Meunier and dosage is 8g/l.
$250 of really, really special occasion champagne right there.. from Dan Murphys.
2. Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame
Now I am not going to lie. I have a huge emotional connection with the Veuve Clicquot brand which I have no doubt influences my preference. And this connection is based on my love for kick-arse chicks who manage to make their mark in a man’s world.
La Grande Dame herself, Madame Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, was born in 1777…. a time when women had NOTHING to do with business. And yet, when her husband died, she took over the family business, turning it into a household name and expanding to all four corners of the globe. She pioneered the riddling technique to make champagne better and invented rosé champagne (that alone would have won a place in my heart!). And …. she lived until she was 89 years old! An astounding achievement in a time when lives were really rather short (see… champagne IS good for you!)
And not only is the legend of La Grande Dame epic, the wines named in her honour are also legendary. I actually think the previous vintage, the 2004, still needs a few years before it will be at its best drinking, and the current vintage 2006 (which I haven’t tried but have stashed away) probably needs more. I think I feel that way because the first La Grande Dame I tasted was the 1990… and I tasted it circa 2009 so it was mature… and spectacular.
After developing a taste (and a love) for La Grande Dame 1990, the next release was the 1998. And I tried a lot of over a number of years because the house didn’t release a La Grande Dame between 1998 and 2004 and there was a lot of 1998 available. Over those six years, I got to taste is as it matured… and that is how I think it’s best enjoyed with those extra years under the belt. So try it … then stock it and hold it and get to enjoy it as it develops – you will see the difference! This is actually almost a smart investment…. if you need to justify buying expensive champagne to someone, you can try and convince them it is an asset that will appreciate in value as it ages and becomes impossible to buy!
The 2006 blend is a fairly even match of 53% Pinot Noir and 47% Chardonnay and 8g/l. BUT… don’t get too comfortable with that style! Dramatically, the next release of the La Grande Dame (the 2008, due for release in 2018) will be nearly 95% pinot noir! The style will become completely different so the 2006 will be the very last release of the fresh VC style we’ve come to know and love. So get your hands on this – one of my fave 5 champs for a very, very special occasion – NOW before it becomes something completely different for the next release!
3. Krug (don’t tell the others this is my all-time fave)
So if the La Grande Dame is the Queen of expensive champagnes, Krug is King.
I still remember the first time I tried Krug…. February 25, 2009 (Seriously, I kept the tasting notes. Yes, I am a champagne tragic!)
I remember saying at the time it tasted “blokey”… and my champagne mentor, Bernadette O’Shea, thought I said oaky and was very impressed (albeit mistakenly so). But the oaky-ness is what I think also makes it blokey… it is a very masculine champagne.
Krug Grande Cuvée is a multi-vintage rather than a non-vintage. It is a blend of around 120 wines from ten or more different vintages (you can instantly taste the high proportion of reserve wines… between 30 and 50%) and the three grape varieties. Not being a multi-vintage does not detract from its finesse. Krug actually say the fullness of the Krug flavour can’t be expressed in a single year… and that more than twenty years are needed to craft each bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée. Before the wine rests on lees for six years.
So how does it taste? Indescribably good. And most certainly like a very expensive champagne (seriously,.. you can tell). It is rich and spicy and nutty, full of ripe fruit and hazlenuts but you can taste some tangy citrus and the strong presence of honey to show its age.
Every time I drink Krug I imagine myself in an underground bar in Paris. Dark wood-panelled bars, booths with deep red leather cushions and red velvet drapes listening to ‘Unforgettable’ by Nat King Cole. Because Krug really is unforgettable. I ask (no, I beg!) all my friends and followers to write what they think the first time they taste Krug. And I love watching people the first time they try Krug… I’ve introduced a dozen friends.
Krug Grande Cuvée $295 per bottle at Dan Murphy’s (But watch for sales, they often drop it to $249!).
4. Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995
The Blanc des Millénaires is an insane wine that you simply have to try before you die.
100% chardonnay and aged for 20 years (yes, I said 20!) it has a deep golden colour and rich, creamy flavour that you won’t forget in a hurry.
You do pay for the privilege of drinking this wine, but what a privilege it is! I’ve tried it 3 or 4 times and I’ve had the new vintage a few times too. My top tip is get the 1995 while you still can!
The prices are going up as we move to the end of this… $349.00 at Emperor.
Not the 1995 vintage pictured
5. Dom Perignon P-2 Plenitude 1998
There is always a lot of buzz around these releases!
The 1998 Dom Perignon P-2 is from Dom Perignon’s famous collection of back vintages, which used to be called Oenotheque. To explain exactly what the wine is… it is 1998 vintage but one that has been hand-crafted for this specific range.
What that means is… Dom Perignon carefully selected wines from specific vintages (in this case the 1998) as having 3 phases in life and they re-release each wine at particular times. The 1998 was first released in 2005 as P-1 (after 7 years on lees) making this P-2 its second incarnation.
The P-2 was disgorged and released in 2014, after spending 9 years more on lees than the P-1 (background reading about time on lees here). The 3rd release (P-3) is expected in another 10 or so years. The un-released bottles from the vintages remain on lees until it is determined by the Chef de Cave that they have developed perfectly and are ready to be released.
The process enhances or magnifies the qualities of the wine and an opportunity to compare over time. You can’t achieve this simply by storing a bottle in your own cellar because the wine you put in your cellar has been disgorged (the lees or yeast that adds flavour and complexity to the wine is ejected) so how it developed will be quite different … find an overview of the ageing process here.
So imagine a standard bottle of Dom Perignon (which is already anything but standard) on steroids!
Not a cheap option but it will be a memorable night and very hard to come by bottles of P2! $495 from the Champagne Gallery
So save up and try these expensive champagnes and let me know what you think! They will change your life… but make sure you post a pic and tag @bubbleandflute #topfivechampagnes #expensivechampagnes
Bubble & Flute promotes the responsible consumption of alcohol for individuals of legal drinking age in their country. Prices and links are given as guides and correct at time of writing.