A few years ago now (and maybe a few more) when I proposed to my wife I decided that I should source a really good French Champagne and make sure that my wife was thoroughly enjoying it before proposing. My wife loves bubbles, she can’t get enough of it. So bubbles and their warming effect was always going to play on my side!
I sourced a bottle of Bollinger La Grande Année 1996. This Champagne only ever gets released in the best years and the 1996 Champagne vintage is regarded as outstanding and some people believe it to be the best since 1928… Champagne drinkers have the longest memories in the world!
It was actually my wife’s birthday which gave me the perfect cover to wake her up before sunrise on a crisp morning and drive her to the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean south of Bondi Beach in Sydney. I don’t think she was 100% thrilled about such an early rise on her birthday but went along with it for the unknown adventure. On driving down to the cliffs she said “Oh, you’re taking me to see a sunrise”. She had told me she’d never seen a sunrise before, although had still been awake many a times when the sun came up but that’s her story to tell, not mine.
So I had the perfect excuse to lay down a picnic blanket, pour us a glass of Bol each, and sit there sipping away as the sun rose, and healthy joggers ran by bemused by two drinkers outdoors that early in the morning. So just as the sun fully appeared I was lubricated enough to pull out the ring and pop the question… And…
So, how was the 1996 Bollinger? It was the best Champagne either of us had ever had and became the benchmark all others have been measured against and, for me, none have beaten. It had the perfect array of bubbles that sat beautifully at the top of the glass. And it was so tasty, very buttery and full of toasty flavours that lasted and lasted in the mouth. And the occasion added to just how good it was, of course. 😉
I recently picked up a couple of bottles of 1996 Boizel Champagne Joyau de France for about $60/bottle at auction. This was a bargain considering its currently being sold online for $235 and I’ve also seen it for $225. There were probably about a dozen lots of this up for auction but the price forced me to show restraint and just bid on two; destined for “special occasions”.
The other night my wife said that she really felt like a champagne, just because. Did it pass the special occasion test? Yep, my wife wanted a champagne and that was enough for me to pop the 1996 Boizel that had been screaming at me to try.
OMFG! It was such a different tasting champagne. Unique in the way you want a great new wine experience to be. It was definitely champagne but came across with its own new angle. It bubbled away with energetic beads and looked so tasty with its foaming mousse at the top. You could smell the toast, nuts and citrus popping out of the bubbles. And it went down so smoothly with flavours of bread and toast layered with a hazelnut spread sprinkled with citrus, and it just didn’t go away finally delivering some biscuits for dessert. Yum!
I’m kicking myself though that I didn’t shake the coin for another couple of bottles of this fine Champagne. Absolutely stunning, especially when the feel of a bargain adds to it. At least I have one more left though and surely that has to be for a special occasion, hasn’t it?
Was it as good as the 1996 Bol? Of course not. 😉
The following evening my wife was again in the mood for a Champagne. I wasn’t going to pop the second bottle already so I pulled out a Jansz NV Premium Cuvee from Tasmania. As usual, and as it was when I was on tour, it was a gorgeous non-vintage sparkling white. To be honest, it’s as good as any standard-line non-vintage French Champagne. Full of flavour and just a fun sparkling. And at about $27/bottle it’s way more than half as good as the 1996 Boizel.
There’s always a good reason to drink good wine, always. Heck, while we were drinking the Boizel was probably when our blog got its 1000th follower (thank you!). There, I plucked out another reason.
Oh, back to the proposal. Of course my wife said yes! She crumbled instantly. Ummm, I never had any doubt. I like a good Champagne too… 😉