Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Oh Jaaames...

I've been so busy lately, I'm probably one of five people in North America who hasn't seen the new James Bond flick Casino Royale yet. It's the story of how James Bond went from regular spy to a licensed to kill 007. In Bond creator Ian Fleming's original 1953 Bond book by the same name, we learn of all of Bond's favorite things: the Walther PPK, martinis shaken-not-stirred and Bollinger Champagne.

Now I know why he's been drinking the stuff for the past 50 years or so; it's probably the most marvelous champagne I've ever tasted. My friend Jan invited me to a champagne and sparkling wine tasting at the University Club in downtown San Diego.

It was crowded, and by the time I made it over to Bruno, the Bollinger rep, he was down to his last bottles. First I tasted the Special Cuvee, which caught me off guard with its striking balance of toasty aged character mixed with golden fruits.

I was still pondering and savoring this wine when Bruno told me to drink up. He wanted me to have the last taste of La Grande Annee. The current vintage of this wine, which is Bollinger's prestige cuvee, is from 1997. I was mesmerized by the most beautiful symphony of flavors: it was like eating buttery golden brioche wrapped around caramelized apricots.

That was a week ago, and I'm still in its thrall.

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