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Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1995

After returning from tastings in Angers last week, which I reported on in my Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday blog posts, as well as in my Salon Top Ten, I fell quite ill with what is probably flu. As such I haven't been living it up this weekend, and thus I'm looking back through a few weeks-worth of tasting notes to choose a wine to feature today. Even though I seem to have a considerable backlog of notes at the moment, it wasn't a difficult choice; I quickly settled for the 1995 Comtes de Champagne from Taittinger, the final bottle in a trio I bought many years ago now.

This cuvée by Taittinger was first released with the 1952 vintage, and is named for the some of the Champagne region's earliest and most noble benefactors. Although there were many such counts (or 'comtes'), the most notable was perhaps Thibault IV. The son of Thibault III and Blanche of Navarre, Thibault IV was born in Troyes in 1201. Following the death of his father he moved his court to Reims, where he established a reputation not only as a musician and poet, he joined the ranks of Champagne's benefactors. Along with other local noblemen he fostered the development of the Champagne trade fairs, offering protection to those attending. As a result the fairs grew in size and stature, and more visitors meant more of the local wines were consumed. And when the visitors left, they took the wines with them, helping to establish Champagne's reputation across Europe.

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1995

As such it is perhaps no surprise that Taittinger would name their prestige cuvée after the Comtes of Champagne. As for the wine itself, it is a blanc de blancs blend usually from about half a dozen villages, including Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Mesnil sur Oger and Oger. As such it is pure Côtes des Blancs, and largely if not 100% grand cru in origin. Up to 5% of the wines may be fermented in oak to start with, with one-third of the barrels renewed each year, before going into bottle for the second fermentation.

As for the wine itself, the 1995 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs shows a honeyed-golden hue in the glass now, and still a moderately-sized bead, less lively than three years ago perhaps, with more of a central core of bubbles than anything more dramatic, but there is still a slightly fat and lazy character to it. On the nose there is some rich development, with some golden crystalline fruits alongside notes of mushroom, toast and minerals. This now seems harmonious, rich and yet well framed. Lovely character in the mouth, all broad richness still with a lemony edge to it, but showing early evolution in terms of little notes of cashew nut and a little more mushroom too. And this is offset by great acidity and a fine, prickling but very persistent and pervasive mousse. Deliciously bright and still full of potential, with a sappy fading finish. This is brilliant and there is no rush to drink up - I anticipate further evolution and improvement over at least 5-10 years yet. 18.5/20 (7/2/11)

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