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, 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.