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Vintage Champagne Turns A Corner

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Like many collectors, my passion for vintage Champagne began almost by accident. I was organizing a wine dinner a number of years ago, when a friend suggested that I start with a flight of old Champagnes. I knew little about vintage Champagne, and so I tasted three or four of them (at the time, old for me meant 1970's vintage). To my surprise, I instantly loved their taste, finesse and elegance. This was the beginning of what has become an engulfing preoccupation with finding and buying the best vintage and rare Champagnes. For me, what's compelling about vintage Champagne is the sense of total uniqueness. It's like nothing else.

There are a couple of misconceptions about Champagne. One is that nobody ever really thought that Champagne could age for 70, 80 or 100 years. But the fact is that Champagne ages beautifully, just like wine. The word simply never got out about the age worthiness of Champagne, although that is starting to change.

The second thing is that people think that you can only drink Champagne with one or two particular foods. The truth is that Champagne is a powerful wine that can be drunk with almost anything. Of course, there are things that are perfectly suited to it, but you can have Krug with barbecue if you want.

There's a lot of buzz lately about the hot vintage wine market but that's the last reason that I'm involved in it. Quite simply, I'm involved because I love vintage Champagne. I also feel that a lot of the great Champagne producers, while hardly unknown, have been largely overlooked, especially when compared to some of the superstar red wine producers. What they're doing is every bit as important as what those producers do and I think people are starting to recognize that. Pardon the pun, but I truly believe there is no bubble in the vintage Champagne market. As people learn more about vintage Champagnes, there will be more appreciation, more collectors, and more demand. Couple this with a diminishing supply, and it's obvious that prices will continue to escalate.

I have decided to auction some of my collection because it would, frankly, be inappropriate for me to drink everything I've collected. I've had the privilege of enjoying every one of these great Champagnes on many occasions, and I consider it an extension of my enthusiasm to make sure that others are able to enjoy them, too.

I am not selling anything that I don't have many more bottles of, so I'm not selling anything that I'm not keeping. I make a point of only opening these bottles at festive occasions -- wine dinners, for example. It amplifies the experience to drink with people that can appreciate and respond to it in a similar manner. That said, I also get great pleasure from introducing friends to vintage Champagnes. It's great to be able to see the look on their faces when they first experience them.