Vintage Champagne and cigars is a great combination. I found this out a while back during a panel I conducted in Havana during a Havana Cigar Festival, matching three cigars with three different Champagne. I find that the fine bubbles, fresh fruit and bright acidity of aged, vintage Champagne is the perfect foil to an elegant cigar.
So, the Champagne vintage to buy is 2002. It is a spectacular year for Champagne. It has the density and structure of such legendary years as 1996, 1990, 1988, 1985 and 1982. The top cuvées of all the best names in Champagne made powerful wines that impress you with their youth and muscle yet suggest that so much more is to come for the patient wine lover who leaves a few bottles in his or her cellar.
My favorite 2002 is Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal. It is a dense Champagne that is very powerful with loads of dried fruits, white pepper and papaya character. It is full-bodied and very persistent on the palate – so powerful and energetic. It also shows notes of ginger, apple pie and bread dough. This is one to age for another two to four years. Like a grand cru Burgundy. 97 points.
The perfect smoke to accompany the Cristal is the Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill (Click here for my tasting note, score and the cigar’s local price in Havana). The thick girth delivers subtle spice and cedar character with hints of tea and tobacco to compliment the intense fruit and lovely texture of the Cristal. Meanwhile, Roederer’s prestige cuvée Champagne enlivens your palate with every puff. They are a perfect combination.
There’s also a video interview with Michel Janneau, vice-president of Louis Roederer, in 2013 when he was at the launch party of the 2002 vintage in Hong Kong. Watch the video below.