Smoth’s Rating: 8.5/10
It’s become a personal tradition to celebrate the New Year with a bottle of fine champagne. No, not the “champagne” that costs $11.99 and the liquor store keeps near the registers during the holidays, but rather champagne from the region for which it is named. No matter how tight my budget (and this year, it was exceptionally tight) I contrive a way to afford a nice bottle. I managed to accomplish this feat by setting aside my pocket change everyday for months in a “champagne fund” which, when tallied, would be put towards my bottle. This year, I opted for the 2004 Laurent-Perrier.
Vintage champagne is a bit different then your run-of-the-mill variety. Generally, Champagne houses will blend grapes from varying years to ensure a consistent product. Non-vintage champagne also only requires 1.5 years of aging, while a vintage requires at least three, although in most cases it is much longer. To warrant a vintage champagne, which only uses grapes from the year it was produced, it must be an exceptionally good year indeed. In the case of Laurent-Perrier, and a few other champagne producers, 2004 met their requirements and a new vintage installment was born. Vintage champagnes generally are considered to have a richer, more concentrated flavour, and express different characteristics than their non-vintage counterparts. I was very excited to see how this manifested for Laurent-Perrier.
Rather than wait until midnight, I popped my cork shortly after arriving to my New Year’s festivities. I didn’t want hours of drinking to interfere with my experience. Additionally, rather than taking it in a flute, I chose a white wine glass to allow this nearly 15 year old wine to breathe a bit and express itself. And, boy, did it ever. On the nose, the ’04 was a cornucopia of citrus, minerality and lower floral notes. It had a bit of a yeasty smell, but it was comparatively tame compared to other vintage champagnes I’ve tried.
What I love about good champagne — as opposed to other sparkling wines like prosecco — is its texture and the ’04 Laurent-Perrier was no different. Its carbonation was lush and soft, a kind of sweet effervescence that caressed rather than prodded. It complimented the flavours which were bright, but not loud. Lovely lemon and wet stone (think the ozone smell after a rain) were nicely offset by a chewy sourdough bread finish. It was absolutely lovely, and a real treat for New Year’s Eve.
The ’04 Laurent Perrier brought with it a heavier texture and obvious maturity which showed its age. A perfect vintage drink to ring in a (hopefully) vintage new year, and one which I hope to have the pleasure of sipping slow again.