This Thanksgiving I was down in the Bahamas, escaping from the onset of cold weather back home. The Bahamas is where Las Vegas meets the Carribean and quickly becoming the epicenter for the entire region with much development in process. A good friend, client and fellow Angry Manner, Roger, was also there for the weekend, so I joined him for a relaxing and quiet Thanksgiving at the spectacular home he was renting for the week.

We kept it simple and had a fascinating head-to-head of 1996 Cristal versus 1996 Cristal Rose, certainly a step up from the White Star and Sauvignon Blanc I had been consuming by the glass the evening prior. The 1996 Cristal was, frankly, spectacular, razor sharp and teeming with acidity as a great 1996 should be, but it was also meaty and chewy with its white meat and golden fruit flavors. Aromas and flavors of straw, sunshine, light toast, citrus and buttered corn graced this regal Champagne. It was so fresh, so clean, so crisp, so racy and just so damn good. It gives the 1996 Salon a run for its money as Champagne of the vintage. It is easily a 50 to 75 year Champagne (97).

The 1996 Cristal Rose had a color that was barely noticeable as Rose; in fact, if served to me blind, I would probably never guess it to be Rose. Roger quickly pointed out that if one compared the two, one could notice the color more, which was true. The Rose out-muscled the ‘regular’ cuvee, possessing much more body, dryness and length. It really grabbed the attention of my tongue and gave it the wine version of CPR. Searingly dry but in a good way, it did not have that flash of flesh (yet) that the regular Cristal possessed, but one could not help but be impressed with its awesome endowment. Touches of strawberry and rose slowly emerged behind its mountain of minerality, but this behemoth of a Champagne was nowhere near being approachable. Honestly, it shouldn’t be touched for at least another decade if not more. It, too, is easily a 50 to 75 year Champagne and could ultimately outscore its counterpart (96+).

I cannot stress enough the agreeability and collectibility of great Champagnes. The wine world is just starting to awaken to this fact, and I feel strongly that this segment of the market is due for some rapid increases in prices along the lines of what Bordeaux and Burgundy have recently undergone. Every special meal, occasion or wine dinner should always start with at least one bottle of bubbly, and it also makes for a great intermezzo and an excellent dessert companion. Let’s not forget that it is also the perfect beverage for those of you that still make it out to a nightclub or lounge once in a while :). Can someone say all-purpose?

We also had a magnum of red, a 1982 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle. I have had good luck with this vintage and the Northern Rhone, and this magnum was no exception. Figgy, gamy and full of dark fruit, this Rhone was more on the fruit side of the spectrum than the roasted earth and bacon side that Hermitage can often be. It was very open and seductive in the nose, but the palate was softer and rounder than I remembered, perhaps a touch coy out of magnum, as I had had a much fleshier experience out of a bottle of this wine a couple years ago. Elegant and refined, it was still a nice complement to the hearty meal and food coma that followed (92M).

In Vino Veritas,
JK

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