What to Drink: Henri Abelé Vintage Champagne 1996, France

Champagne’s duality, both rich and refreshing, has catapulted the wine to international stardom. Now everyone can afford to find out why.


Champagne’s duality, both rich and refreshing, has catapulted the wine to international stardom. Now everyone can afford to find out why, with this reserve-level wine selling for less than most non-vintage offerings. Vintage wines are made only in the finest years and must be aged for twice as long as non-vintage ones. This guarantees that opulence and nutty flavor will develop, since champagne gets its signature toastiness from time spent on the lees. As a Chairman’s Selection at Pennsylvania state stores this month, this wine is a stunning value at $24.99, more than half off the regular price. Eight years of sur lie aging have deepened and mellowed the wine dramatically. Bursting with butter-braised apricot and almond shortbread flavors, it’ll be terrific with smoked salmon and capers, sautéed shrimp with garlic, or even just a bowl of peanuts.