Eater chats with Chris Miller, Beverage Director of Spago, about the vagaries of champagne and the most popular orders at the iconic Beverly Hills restaurant. He dishes on the small-producer focus that Spago takes instead of banking on the big name Champagne houses.
What are some of your more popular champagnes? By the glass, Veuve Fourny "Grand Reserve" ($20) and Paul Bara ($25). By far the most popular champagne is Krug, which is $45 a glass and $325 a bottle.
What are some of the most expensive champagnes offered at Spago? We have a number of Jacques Selosse selections that range from $275 to $575. We some bottles of Vilmart that start at $100 and go up to $300 a bottle.
What about the magnums? We have a bottle of Laurent-Perrier "Grand Siècle," which is their tête de cuvée. This denotes the highest blend of champagnes from a major house and has a few more years of age, resulting in more complexity. We also have a 3-liter bottle of Chartogne-Taillet "Sainte-Anne." It sells pretty well, we just had to re-order and generally carry 1-3 bottles at a time.
What do you think about Ace of Spades, which is the preferred club champagne? I think it's just marketing; I don't necessarily think it's very special.
What's your preferred vessel of serving the champagnes? We actually have five different glasses for serving the champagne. We have the classic flute shape, but prefer to serve older vintage champagnes from the 1970s and 80s in a more standard white wine glass. Because of the age, these champagnes aren't as bubbly, so they're more like a really awesome white burgundy.
What's your desert island champagne? I would have to say Krug. They're the only producer to make their least expensive bottle as a tête de cuvée, a blend of multiple good vintages. They tend to price other bottlings based on rarity rather than quality, so from the start it's a great champagne. Their Grand Cuvee has up to twenty vintages, so you have complexity of the older ones and the freshness of some younger vintages.