There are good wines, and then there are transcendent wines. On Friday afternoon, I paid a visit to my neighbors down the street in Dizy, partly just to say hi, and also to taste some 2008s in tank. To be perfectly honest, though, the primary reason for my visit was to remind Antoine Chiquet of a conversation that we had several weeks ago at a tasting of old Spécial Club wines. Chiquet had brought the 1979 Spécial Club, which I loved—I have a weakness for the ’79 vintage anyway, but this wine was remarkably delicious, with a lively freshness and a shapely, fragrant fuselage of flavor. As we were tasting it, Antoine acknowledged that it was a fine wine, but he said, “Yeah, well, it’s not as good as the 1982.”
You can’t put out statements like that without proving them. On Friday, Antoine generously backed up his assertions by pulling out a bottle of 1982 Spécial Club for us to drink. The wine was absolutely perfect, seamlessly balancing mature notes of mocha, wood smoke and roasted nori with lingering and complex aromas of primary fruit, showing a silky elegance along with the confident breadth and depth typical of this corner of the Grande Vallée de la Marne. Antoine said that this bottle was probably disgorged around 1989, which seemed perfect to me—I’m beginning to think that I prefer bottles to be disgorged when they’re ready and aged with a little bit of dosage, rather than be stored on their lees sur pointe for their whole lives. This bottle was certainly showing in peak condition. Antoine said, “You know, sometimes I taste great champagnes like Krug and Bollinger, but then I taste wines like this one and I think to myself, maybe we’re doing okay too.” I couldn’t possibly disagree.