December 15 2009
Mark C O’Flaherty
I’m a firm believer that above a certain level of quality, champagne can’t taste – significantly at least – any better. The jump from supermarket fizz to a Veuve Clicquot NV is joyous, but by the time I’m imbibing a glass of Bollinger RD, I am not sure if there’s a great deal of room for improvement. But when a friend recently produced a gleaming bottle of Armand de Brignac at an anniversary dinner, I was suitably wowed.
Though it only launched in 2006, it’s a product of the Premier Cru vineyards of the Cattier family, which have been farmed since the 18th century. At a blind tasting by sommeliers this year, the Brut Gold came top, beating a 2000 Dom Pérignon and a 2002 Cristal. It’s fine stuff indeed – creamy, smooth and elegant.
But what gives this persuasive, shiny new pretender to the throne of fizz its real edge is the gloriously shallow thrill of its bottle, originally designed by the house of Courrèges. There’s now a bright pink rosé and a more-premium-than-premium blanc de blancs in silver, but the Brut (pictured) is a solid Christmas beauty: all glistering gold with a gothic ace of spades emblem in polished pewter. It’s shamelessly flash but utterly festive.
Armand de Brignac Brut Gold is available from Harrods (£280 per bottle) and Selfridges (£300).