5 bottles & 5 questions Charles Curtis MW [usa]

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Björnstierne Antonsson

Every Friday TheChampagneSommelier will ask 5 questions about 5 coeur de bouteilles to friends and Champagne lovers from near and far.


Author, journalist and consultant, Charles Curtis is a Master of Wine and the founder of WineAlpha, a fine wine advisory serving private, trade and institutional clients with an interest in the market for fine and rare wine.  This unique consultancy provides advice on the buying, selling storing and shipping of fine wine to private clients, USPAP-compliant appraisals, and advice on varied topics to a number of trade clients.  He was recently appointed as the Burgundy Consultant to Zachys Auction and Retail.

Former Head of Wine for Christie’s in both Asia and the Americas, Curtis has a wealth of experience in the wine trade.  He joined Christie’s in 2008 from LVMH, where he was Director of Wine and Spirit Education for Moet Hennessy USA.  Over the years he has held a variety of sales and marketing posts in the wine trade, and his professional career began as a chef who trained at the Cordon Bleu Paris, working in restaurants around the world.

Curtis earned his Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust of London, and in October 2004 became the 22nd Master of Wine in the United States.  Through the years, he has garnered a number of honors, including the prestigious “Bourse André Crispin” in 2002, presented by the Commanderie de Bordeaux aux Etats-Unis, of which he is now a member, along with the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and the Société Mondiale du Vin.  He is a member of the board of the Institute of Masters of Wine (North America) and their Events Committee.  He has been a guest lecturer at a number of universities, and is a Certified Member of the Appraisers Association of America.

Writing has also long been among Curtis’ interest.  His first book, The Original Grand Crus of Burgundy, was released in 2014.  He is a columnist for the Chinese version of La Revue du Vin de France and was formerly Senior Editor at Le Pan Media covering Champagne, the Rhône Valley, and other regions, and has been a freelance contributor to other magazines.  He works as a wine and spirits judge, and has been a featured speaker at dozens of wine and food festivals over the years.  His work is featured on the websites www.CurtisMW.com and www.WineAlpha.com.  Classical music, contemporary art and global gastronomy are his abiding free time passions.

Which Champagne would You treat your parents or in-laws?

‘My mother-in-law is a born bon-vivant. For her I would offer something elegant and delicate that is not too heavy but is still complex and satisfying.  For her I think Taittinger ‘Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs’ 2004 would be perfect.

Which Champagne would You treat your lover?

‘My wife is a great lover of Champagne. I have a special catch of magnums of Philipponnat ‘Clos des Goisses’ 1992, which is the year that we got married.  It is a very special vintage to us.’

Which Champagne would You treat your boss?

‘I think for a boss it is important to show thrift as well as discernment.  For this purpose, I would choose the Billecart-Salmon ‘Cuvée Nicolas-François’ 2002, which is still available at a very good price and the wine is drinking very well just now.’

Which Champagne would You treat yourself?

‘It is important to treat oneself well, and I think that I deserve Krug ‘Vintage’. Taking into account the quality, price, and availability, I would treat myself to the 1988, preferably in magnum.’

Which Champagne would You treat a dream guest, and why?

‘A dream guest deserves a Champagne that is a dream of beauty.  My dream guest would be Maurice Pol-Roger, and I hope that he would bring a bottle of his 1914.  I imagine that he had a reasonable quantity disgorged to celebrate the end of the Great War.  Perhaps he has a bottle or two left?’

With luck, Maurice and I would listen to Debussy’s Quartet in G minor, Op. 10.  It has everything a great Champagne has: there is grandeur but also elegance; there is delicacy and a bit of drama, joy and just a hint of wistful regret.  In short, it is magnificent.’ 

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