Less than two weeks after our unremarkable tasting, I was forced to eat my words. In the unbelievably refined atmosphere of Restaurant Daniel, I was treated to a Champagne that slowly but surely, over half a dozen courses, burrowed its way into my memory, to borrow a phrase from Veronelli.
1998 Taittinger 'Comtes de Champagne' Blanc de Blancs
Pale gold in the glass, with extremely fine mousse, this wine (it deserves the title) had a beautiful nose of apple, pear, peach, and fresh baguette. I don't know how to explain the extra dimension but by comparison - I tasted a Veuve-Clicquot yellow label later the same night, and the crassness and lack of integration in the nose was almost offensive by comparison. In the mouth it had a perfectly elegant balance. No single component - sugar, fruit, yeast, acidity, mousse, alcohol - stood out above the rest, and as a result the flavors came through the structure with memorable clarity. It was unremarkable at first sip, then grew in complexity and deliciousness with each course, at once complementing the food and refreshing the palate.
Price: around $200 per bottle. Score: 92-94 points.