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This weekend RJ was in Vilnius with some Champagne loving friends. It was a weekend dedicted to a long parade of magnums.

THURSDAY NIGHT

FIRST FLIGHT: Krug NV Grande Cuvee Magnum  vs Henriot 1981 Vinothèque Magnum

KRUG ‘GRANDE CUVÉE’ | 50PN 15PM 35CH | 92(94) Points

TASTINGNOTE ‘The firm’s least costly wine, Grande Cuvée, is made from 118 wines from ten different vintages. Although Grande Cuvée may be lighter and fresher than its predecessor, Private Cuvée, after a few extra years in the cellar it outshines the competitors’ vintage Champagnes. The extremely tough acidity, together with the heavy, rich Krug aromas, are the foremost clues. Always check how straight the cork is in order to decipher when it was disgorged. When young, the acidity can be too hard. When middle aged and older, the Grand Cuvée has a fabulously complex nose and palate, dominated by nuts and honey. The aftertaste is always long and majestic, like a great symphony. The best bottles deserve even higher points than I’ve given here.’

HENRIOT ‘VINOTHÈQUE’ 1981 by the magnum | 51PN 49CH | 89(89) Points

TASTINGNOTE ‘One of the most delightful occurrences in Champagne is that vintages that were at first rather mediocre and acidly peaky may with time suddenly become ultra-elegant and deeply concentrated. 1981 is such a year. The wines from 81 just get better and better, with their lovely floral aroma backed up by the additional concentrated butteriness of maturity. They never become viscous and if …they are stored in the perfect cellars of Champagne until quite recently then the balance between freshness and the syrupiness won through time is sensational.’

Foto: Joel Stockmann

SECOND FLIGHT: Selosse 1999 Magnum vs Krug 1989 Magnum

SELOSSE ‘MILLÉSIME’ 1999 | 100CH | 95(95) points

TASTINGNOTE ‘Tasted when newly disgorged before it was launched with Anselme standing among the oak barrels. Extremely high alcohol content of around 14% according to Anselme, which I was unable to perceive at all. Tremendously concentrated and loaded with sweet fruitiness so that dosage is not missed in the slightest. One of the most Burgundy-like creations from Selosse that I have encountered. Very like Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Premier cru. Buttery.’

KRUG ‘MILLÉSIME’ 1989 by the magnum | 47PN 24PM 29CH | 95(95) points

TASTINGNOTE ‘A most voluptuous, honey-saturated Krug. Already richly evolved. Butterscotchy, with a long aftertaste. Less classical than the ’88, but just as good for the moment.’

Slosse Avize topfoil

THIRD FLIGHT: Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 1982 Magnum

POL ROGER ‘SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL’ 1982 by the magnum | 95(95) points

TASTINGNOTE ‘Like the ordinary ’82, very typical for its year. That means that the wine is also a touch impersonal. This year the Winston Churchill was definitely lighter than P. R. Several times I’ve drunk them beside each other and always preferred the P. R. After several years of hesitation, the wine has finally begun to come around. Superb toasty aromas in magnum (96 points).’

FORTH FLIGHT: 1979

HENRIOT ‘CUVÉE LES ENCHANTELEURS VINOTHÈQUE’ 1979 by the magnum | 60PN 40CH | 97(97) points

TASTINGNOTE ‘No tastingnote yet’

HENRIOT ‘MILLÉSIME VINOTHÈQUE’ 1979 by the magnum | 50PN 50CH | 96(96) points

TASTINGNOTE ‘See 1979 Henriot. Crazy in magnum!’

HENRIOT ‘MILLÉSIME’ 1979 by the magnum | 50PN 50CH | 93(93) points

TASTINGNOTE ‘Yet another exceptional wine from Henriot. Weaker nose and hardly as enchantingly beautiful as a Blanc de Blancs from the same year on the other hand, there is more depth and room in this than in that other beauty. The wine is—at least if you get to taste it at Henriot, as I did—very young and develops quickly in the glass. Delightful weight and fruit concentration that is unusual for this classic vintage that normally smells so beautifully of hazelnuts. Heavenly in 2006! Perfection!’

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