How did 1996 get to be 19 years ago? It seems like only yesterday that we were flush with Champagne from this great vintage here at K&L. The very first DI orders that arrived from Champagne Aspasie (at the time selling under the family name; Ariston), Bonville and Launois all included the 1996 vintage. I bought cases for myself all those years ago, but not nearly enough. Last night, with Scott Beckerley of the San Francisco K&L coming to dinner with Cinnamon and I, I had an occasion to dig deep into the cellar and pull one of these out.
We went for dinner at the Fish Market in Palo Alto, a venerable local institution that not only serves Fish, but also operates their own fishing boat and wholesale facility. This isn’t the place for foams and food towers, it is a place for the freshest and highest quality fish served in an unfussy and deliscious way. As usual, the restaurant delivered with excellent food and great service. Scotty and Cinnamon both ordered the scallop special, which came with a nice polenta cake bed and roasted brussels sprouts. I had the sushi sampler, which came with a spicy tuna roll and some of the best hamachi and ahi I have had.
The 1996 Launois was a fabulous shape shifter. It never seemed to be the same wine twice and every shape that it took was excellent; from carmel richness to chalky electricity. Usually Champagne of such depth, richness and tertiary complexity doesn’t agree with raw fish, but this worked perfectly. I think it is the magic high acid of the 1996 vintage that made it work. In Champagne, they refrer to 1996 as the 10/10 vintage, since the ripeness was so high (10% natural potential alcohol on average) and the acid was just as high (10g/l on average). This Champagne still has decades of potential in it, and luckily I still have a few left.
The 2008 vintage has very similar characterisitcs- super high ripeness (for Champagne) and extrodinary acidity. I am planning on laying a case of this vintage down as well, to go with my Bonville and Aspasie 2008’s that I have already snapped up. Time will tell, but judging by this 1996, I have reason to be confident!
A toast to you!