My last bottle….

January 2nd, 2014

My last bottleOpening the last bottle of a wine that you cherish is always a very sad occasion, whether it be the last of a particular vintage or simply something that is no longer available. What ever the reason there is always a certain reluctance to pull that final cork.

I make no secret of the fact that I am a great Champagne lover, and more especially those with a bit of bottle age. Of course it would be easy to select only Grande Marque Champagnes, although in truth, they might not necessarily be the best available and almost certainly won’t represent the best value for money. For me the answer is to source a Champagne made by one of the multitude of smaller Champagne houses, often as good, if not better than some of the Grande Marque brands. The downside is the time and effort that it takes to determine which are the best – as with all wine, it simply comes down to trial and error.

Two or three years ago, in a Spanish supermarket, I decided to try one of these lesser known brands, a Louis Barthélémy Cuvée Améthyste Brut NV. It ended up providing me with a very pleasant surprise indeed – a ripe, fruity, well-balanced Champagne, it’s richness coming from a blend dominated by the two pinot grapes of the appellation. The full bodied flavour was further enhanced by the price – a good few Euros less than any of the well-known brands on offer. Over time this Champagne became a staple in my cellar, and a good stock was always maintained in order that I could store them for a while to enhance their bottle age. Indeed, after 12-18 months of additional ageing they were quite delicious (or at least for my own personal taste).

Then suddenly, several months ago, the stock in my local supermarket started to dry up, and as it appeared that this was my only source in the whole of Spain, I immediately hurried out to buy all the bottles that I could find. Sadly, over the holidays I arrived at the very last bottle, but at least I am happy to tell you that  it tasted just as delicious as the very first….. I guess that now I will just have to revert back to the Krug Clos de Mesnil.

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