Wine: Champagne Mailly Grand Cru Extra Brut
Grapes: Pinot noir (50 percent), chardonnay (50 percent)
Region: Reims, Champagne, France
In the glass: Mailly Grand Cru is a rich lemon-yellow color with a bright, clear core going out into a fine, light citrine rim with medium-high viscosity.
On the nose: A nutty and bread doughy initial sensation overwhelms your olfactory sensors, with lovely warm fruit notes underlying, then some crushed walnut and floral notes with hints of chalky minerality.
On the palate: Immediately rich and mineral-fruity upfront, then lovely toasty notes of white grape juice, sourdough bread, hints of citrus and other white fruits. The Grand Cru terroir really comes through. It is lengthy and balanced through the midpalate and has a complex finish. It is pleasant and excellently dry. It also is priced extraordinarily well for its quality.
Wine: Champagne Armand de Brignac (Ace of Spades) Brut Rose
Grapes: Pinot noir, pinot meunier, chardonnay
Region: Chigny-les-Roses, Champagne, France
In the glass: Ace of Spades Rose is an antique rose to salmon pink color with a clean, clear appearance going out into a faint, almost glass-clear meniscus with medium-high viscosity.
On the nose: It has lots of pomegranate, minerality, almost Burgundian-like red pinot-style fruit with really sexy notes of acai berries and sloe fruit, and then hints of grilled bread and juniper.
On the palate: Mouth-filling with almost sweetish mixed dark berry fruit, with underlying notes of pomegranate and crushed currants, roasted toffee flirting with that salty edge, and layers of complexity. The finish is a study in red fruit and finesse.
Odds and ends: These are obviously two very different Champagnes at both ends of the price spectrum. The Mailly Grand Cru is one of the greatest deals out there right now. As a kicker it’s Extra Brut, which means bone dry. The “Ace of Spades,” as it is called affectionately by the club crowds who love showing off with this incredibly packaged bottle, is a tremendous drink. If you have the means, this is the bottle to buy. It is produced in very limited runs and can be hard to find, but it’s worth it.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’ wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749.