The occasion required a sparkling wine for celebration, and it required more than cava. So the Wine Curmudgeon, spotting the Heidsieck ($56, purchased, 12%) on the shelf at a local wine bar, opted for Champagne. And why not? How often does the Cheap Wine Book go on sale?
Champagne has long been one of the great contradictions in my wine drinking life. I love Champagne, but I have little use for the Champagne business. It embodies everything that makes me crazy about the way wine works – little regard for consumers, pricing that bears almost no relationship to reality, and the idea it can operate like it’s 1953 and not 2013.
But they do make nice wine, and the Heidsieck is no exception. Look for lots and lots of caramel at the front, giving way to layers and layers of flavor, including white fruit and a mineral finish that has been described as almost iodine by some of my colleagues. This is not a subtle or especially elegant Champagne, and bears more than a passing resemblance to the mass Champagnes, like Veuve Clicquot, that I don’t much care for. But it is incredibly well made and a perfect example of this style. And we had a fine time celebrating the book.