I hate to admit that I don't think of champagne as an every-day wine. It's usually associated with celebrations -- such as Christmas and New Year's. Most champagne is sold in December, so obviously I'm not alone in opening some bubbles at this time of the year.
My wife and her girlfriends love champagne year-round and I pour more for them than I do for myself. To me the bubbles just get in the way of a good wine, but then I recently opened several champagnes that brought me to my senses. The bubbles are part of champagne's character and behind it is a good wine.
That precise thought came to mind when I sipped a 2012 Taittinger. This house is known for its exquisite chardonnay-based champagnes and this vintage version didn't disappoint. It also brought back a fond memory of dining with Claude Taittinger in the late 1980s at Chateau de la Marquetterie, a palatial property that served as a command post during World War I. It was bought by Pierre Taittinger in 1932.
Taittinger has been one of my favorite champagnes ever since I first tasted its Comtes de Champagne. It stands alongside Krug, Cristal and other top cuvees of the most prestigious champagne houses. You never had champagne like this and one sip will make you understand the difference between cheap sparkling wine and champagne.
This northern region has given winemakers fits over the years, but with global warming it has been easier to ripen grapes. In fact, I have to wonder if one day Champagne won't be ideal for still wine. Could the next best pinot noir or chardonnay be coming from Champagne?
I have been sampling a lot of sparkling wine and champagne in the last couple of weeks. Not a bad gig. A column with my recommendations will appear in the next week or so.