1996 Baron-Fuenté Grand Millésime Brut, AC Champagne
We kicked off the holidays with a few bottles on the 23rd. First of the night, a vintage Champagne from one of the greatest recent vintages. I do my best to drink as much Champagne as I can comfortably afford, and it's always a treat to drink the 1996's.
I decanted. I'll tell you why - the bubbles in Champagne should be the least interesting aspect, as the sweetness is the least interesting aspect of a great Sauternes. It is an element, yes, but certainly not the focus. The mousse brings a textural component to the wine. What you see, in the form of carbonation, is only important for the hacks who want others to see that they're drinking a Champagne.
Still quite a young vintage, which is why I wanted to aerate it fully. It shows a lot of autolytic properties, not a surprise. Fruit lurks underneath, but is quite muted. It does begin developing a creaminess, and an intensity that's quite pleasing. Minerals begin showing as well. There's a beautiful weight in the mouth, clearly a wine with presence. High-strung acidity. A delicious wine with our fish as well as our rabbit stew.DF