Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been fortunate enough to taste the following champagnes in good company:
1996 Duval-Leroy Brut: This is a beautiful wine, soft and elegant, with hints of nuts, toast, and sweet lemon cake. We tasted this against a 2000 Dom Perignon at Addison’s, a local restaurant (hint: don’t trust college-age servers to know how to open a champagne bottle or to present clean, polished glasses).
1998 Duval-Leroy Blanc de Chardonnay: This was my favorite of the set. The wine is hard to get and the only place in Columbia that has it is the Wine Cellar and Bistro (they have 2 bottles left, hint hint). The grapes are from 5 Grand Cru villages in the Cote des Blancs. The wine is softer, deeper, and richer than the 1998, and has flavors of light lemon cake, toast, and honey.
2000 Dom Perignon: I opened this wine for roughly ten people who aren’t wine experts, and the universal conclusion was at $55 retail, the 1996 Duval-Leroy was a far better wine. In other words, don’t waste your money on Dom when a little looking might find you champagne from a producer that does a far better job making 10,000 cases than the 5 million cases of Dom that Moet et Chandon produces every vintage. In any case, the wine is good, but simple, with with lots of fruit and brisk acidity. Dom takes about 10 years to develop its characteristic silky mousse and finesse. I’ll be interested in how this wine develops over the next 10 years, though I’m not sure I’ll be interested in paying for it.