Wines Of The Week: Luxury At Every Price

Brian Freedman - Contributor

Brian Freedman - Contributor

Luxury can come at any price—this is often lost in the discussion of high-end examples of products in their respective categories.

I collect watches, for instance, and while I can’t quite justify dropping half a year’s mortgage payments on a Rolex Daytona (though I wish I could!), the NOMOS Tangente offers more than enough understated horological  luxury at a price point that hews more closely my budget.


It’s the same with wine: World-class bottles can be acquired at both extremes of the price continuum. And that’s what my Wines of the Week embody today, because both of them are excellent examples of luxury within their category, though they require a very different amount of money to purchase.

My white Wine of the Week, the Champagne Jacquart Cuvée Mosaïque Brut, is a delicious example of luxury that can be had with a relatively minimal outlay of cash. And while I hate to peddle in the old tropes about creating a luxurious experience anytime you pop open a bottle of well-crafted Champagne, I’m going to do just that. Because, well, it’s true.

Unfortunately, because Champagne is often looked at as a more expensive wine—which is definitely not always the case at all—too many consumers hesitate to open a bottle on, say, a random Tuesday night, just as they would any other wine. But because this Jacquart is so reasonably priced, that issue is really taken off the table. And the payoff for having opened it is significant. It’s a finely balanced blend of 40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, and 25% Pinot Meunier that aged for 36 months prior to release. The result is a vivacious, food-friendly wine fit for enjoying on its own or alongside a broad range of foods. I loved it with a recent dinner of fried chicken, but it would go just as well with everything from raw oysters to Dover sole.

My red Wine of the Week exists at the other end of the price spectrum, and it’s made in infinitely smaller quantities. The Kopke CNK Very Old Tawny Port Special 380th Anniversary is a miraculous blend of Port from the legendary house’s stocks from the 1920s and 1930s. As if that weren’t enough, the blend is lent further complexity with the addition of Kopke’s Colheita 1900. Because of the age and limited quantities of the wines that went into this anniversary bottling (named CNK after the house’s founder, Cristiano Nicolau Kopke), only 380 bottles were produced, and each one has a suggested retail price of $1800. It will be available at the end of the month, though pre-orders are being taken by some retailers.

Aside from the Port itself—which is absolutely stunning—what most fascinates me about this wine is the connection it affords to the distant past. Well-aged wine, I’ve always felt, is as close as humankind can get to time travel, and swallowing a sip of this connects us in a deeply intimate way to generations long gone. The grapes that went into this marvel were picked before World War Two; some of them were harvested prior to World War One. The 1900 portion of the blend was brought in from the vineyards before the Wright Brothers completed their first powered flight. A wine this old can’t help but be a profound emotional and intellectual experience.