Its full name is Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, and it is worth every penny of its $200 price tag. That does mean, of course, that you won’t be drinking it every day, week, or month. But once a year, during your annual Citizen Kane/The Third Man viewing extravaganza, absolutely perfect. The wine is 100 per cent chardonnay fruit from the Côtes de Blancs. It is first-press cuvée, and spends nearly 10 years in the Taittinger crayères (cellars) in Reims. The world sees 250,000 bottles, just under 20,000 cases, so in overall terms this is a rare luxury cuvée wine, made only in exceptional vintages. The latest of those are 2002 and 2005.
The wine is a pale yellow, with unmistakeable Champagne notes of rising bread dough, with an amazing, fine, bubbly mousse. It is forward on the attack, bursting with fresh apple and pear, with abundant structure throughout the palate, ultimately leaving ripe, pink grapefruit notes lingering in your mind as the complex, toasty finish comes into play. A match with almost any seafood you prefer, the wine can also be laid down for a few years, to further develop richness and texture. Comtes de Champagne will not help you figure out Harry Lime’s motivations, but you will certainly feel more philosophical about it.