I love Champagne. In the world of sparkling wines, Champagne stands alone. Its ability to conjure elegance, magic and sophistication make it special. Its beauty, its individuality, its capacity to transmit terroir and vintage, and its effortless ways with difficult dishes make it unique. I often talk about "peak experience" when I talk about wine--what I love best about wine is its alchemical ability to turn a good meal into a great one, a nice night into one you'll never forget, and pleasant moment into a peak experience. Few wines can create "peak experiences" like Champagne. More than being the wine to open when you want to celebrate, a great bottle of Champagne makes food taste delicious, conversation sparkle, and your night magical.
Today, I'm delighted to shine a spotlight on one singular bottle, André Clouet Cuvée 1911. This Champagne house is different, and this wine is unusual. Its maker blends together a magical selection of vintages to make a wine that brings out the best. It's definitely a wine where its whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the most recent release is spectacular. Most serious Champagne lovers go for vintage bottles, but this cuvée is one that should be in their cellars and on their lips. It's rich, textured, and complex, and it cries out for seafood, duck or roasted chicken.
Along with this wine that makes celebrations out of meals, I'm very pleased to present a pair of outstanding wines. The first comes from the late, great Stanislao Radikon, one of the forces in natural Italian winemaking. A hotbed of natural winemaking, Friuli is home to some major iconoclasts--Josko Gravner, Movia's Ales Kristancic, and, until he passed away a month ago, Stanko Radikon. Today, I'm giving you a taste of Radikon's magic in his 2000 Merlot, a wine he bottled in one-liter formats and a wine that upends a lot of what you think you know about Italian Merlot. The second wine is Domaine Lamarche 2013 Grands Echézeaux, a venerable Burgundy house helmed by a pair of sisters. This wine needs some time in the cellar, but it's going to be outrageous.