This morning we are delighted to release Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2006, a remarkable wine that has been awarded 97+ points from Antonio Galloni. This acclaim puts it on par with the 98 scoring 2002 which the market already prices at £650 per case of six bottles. Moreover, Jancis Robinson has awarded the 2006 her highest score to date, with a stellar 19/20 points. Its price on release is generous, lower than Dom Perignon, which produces an order of magnitude more bottles per vintage. Comtes’ production is also considerably below Cristal as is the price; Taittinger makes less than 25,000 cases of Comtes per vintage.
Comtes de Champagne was the vanguard of Blanc de Blancs ‘prestige cuvees’ putting it on the world map when they first released their 1952 vintage in 1958. The other two truly great examples of this, Salon Le Mensil and Krug Clos du Mensil start at £300 per bottle. This reflects the fact that great Chardonnay vines are rare in Champagne; most major houses prefer to use their best Chardonnay grapes blended with Pinot Noir in their grand cuvees. At less than £70 per bottle, Comtes de Champagne represents wonderful value for money when compared to comparable cuvees and older vintages:
Comtes de Champagne is produced in the cellars of the former Saint-Nicaise abbey (13th Century) in Reims and receives extravagant care and profligation, with the strict production made entirely of Chardonnay selected from only the best vines from six Grand Cru plots in the prestigious Cote des Blancs, where the chalkiest soils are found. The wines are then aged for 8-10 years in the Saint-Nicaise chalk pits (Crayeres) before being released to market.
Comtes de Champagne use only Chardonnay, a stylistic choice, which results in a beautifully aromatic and refined nose, with a rich and creamy palate, displaying characteristics of Blanc de Blancs at its very best. Blanc de Blancs tends to be more elegant and delicate. We tasted it on Saturday evening and we are delighted to confirm it is a magnificent Comtes, with delightfully delicate bubbles, combining wonderfully ripe fruit with balanced acidity, poise and length. It is drinking beautifully now, yet with the concentration of fruit and freshness that will allow it to improve for decades in bottle.
It is worth noting that magnums of Comtes de Champagne are released in the same exquisite and unusual shape as the 75cl bottles.
Taittnger Comtes de Champagne 2006, 6×75 – £405 IB or £504.90 including Duty and VAT. 3x150 – £405 IB or £504.90 including Duty and VAT.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media, – 97+ Points
The 2006 Comtes de Champagne is striking, especially in the way it brings together elements of ripeness and freshness in a hypothetical blend of the 2002 and 2004. Smooth and creamy on the palate, the 2006 is all about texture. There is a real feeling of density and weight in the 2006, qualities I expect to see grow with time in the bottle. All the elements fall into place effortlessly. The 2006 has been nothing short of magnificent both times I have tasted it. Comtes de Champagne remains the single best value (in relative terms) in tête de cuvée Champagne. I suggest buying a case and following it over the next 20-30 years, which is exactly what I intend to do. There is little doubt the 2006 Comtes de Champagne is a magical Champagne in the making. Drink 2016 – 2046
Jancis Robinson, 19/20 Points
Disgorged April 2013 for this tasting. Very lively bead indeed. Very sumptuous nose seems eerily close to fine white Côte d’Or burgundy. Still tight and very glamorous. Really classy and explosive. Hugely promising. There is delicacy and charm here. Drink 2015 – 2025
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