Charles Heidsieck Brut Millésime 2005

Charles Heidsieck Brut Millésime 2005: Golden yellow, slight hint of green color; autumnal aromas on the nose—hazelnut, roasting almonds, yeast/bread, lemon grass;

on the palate there are delicate dates, apricot, figs, distinct nuttiness, minerals, lilt of lemon, slices of baked bread. The wine is rich, creamy, elegant, balanced, densely structured, celebrates superb acidity, presents persistent bubbles; it flaunts a satisfyingly long finish that includes brush of crème brûlè and a bit of bitterness (in an intriguing, positive way). Charles Heidsieck is one of the premier makers in Champagne with a particularly fanatic fixation on style. CH only makes Millésime in years suiting its vision; the previous effort was 2000. By all accounts, 2005 was exceptional vintage in France, especially in Burgundy/Champagne. Exceptional vintages do not automatically spur a Millésime effort, however—there were superb vintages in 2002 and 2004, too, but no Millèsime. Rather, CH only pulls the Millésime trigger when the vintage matches the CH vision of Millésime. In 2005, CH pounced on the gift wine gods presented; then they went to work on the wine for the next nine years. Millésime is 60% pinot noir, 40% chardonnay—the CH formula for Millésime. The grapes came from 11 grand cru and premier cru villages; it lay on lees for eight years before dégorgement. That is how you achieve unique, impressive, distinctive wines—and why those wines cost a Benjamin or more. The Champagne/sparkling wine world is a state of mind rather than a definitive line in vineyard dirt or winery floor. You can get tasty, serviceable sparkling for less than $20, no problem. You can get delicious, more subtle and sophisticated sparkling for less than $50, no problem. Virtually none of those, however, come from Champagne. They come from California, New York State, New Mexico, Italy, Spain. Drink them and enjoy. Certainly go that route when you are the father of the bride or host a New Year’s party. But when your palate has achieved some sophistication (or aspires to do so), treat yourself to the magnificent, deep layers of flavor and pleasure that works of art, such as Millésime, deliver. Each pour from the bottle will teach you a new lesson and open a new door of joy. Savor. Share only with most special people in your life, if you share at all. $85-105 Charles Heidsieck Brut Millésime