Champagne: vintage versus non-vintage at the Harpers Champagne summit

Today’s Harpers Champagne Summit was really good.

I was there to present a ‘masterclass’: my theme, the difference between non-vintage and vintage Champagnes. I compared the NV and vintage wines from three different houses, but made people do it single blind (they knew which wines were in each pair, but not which was which). Amazingly, this informed audience found it very difficult to spot which was which. Ray O’Connor has written the session up on the IWC blog, and posted a video clip of an interview he did with me.

Among the other sessions, there was a fascinating food and Champagne matching session. Champagne Mumm have commissioned flavourist Danny Hodrien to use GC-MS (a powerful analytic technique) to examine the volatile flavour compounds in their various Champagnes, and to identify molecules that might be specific to each fizz. Then chef Iain Graham used the specific flavour compounds to devize canapes to match each Champagne. It was really interesting, and some of the matches were superb.

There was also a tasting. The real treat was a vertical of Perrier Jouet’s Belle Epoque, with 1995, 1996 and 1998 from Jeroboam, and also 2002 and 2004, as well as 2000 and 2002 Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs.

8 comments to Champagne: vintage versus non-vintage at the Harpers Champagne summit

  • Great sessions Jamie.

    The Castelnau NV and Brut were easy to spot on a sniff but I resorted to guessing on the Lanson and Taittinger NV vs Vintage. Embarrassing.

    On the Danny Hodrien seminar using GC-MS the seminar and use of science was fascinating but I would have come to very different food matches. They identified flavour in the wine with food combinations with similar flavours. Yin & Yin.

    I prefer a Yin & Yang approach looking for contrasts where the combination of the food and wine flavours produces a third flavour based on the combination.

  • Simon Pringle

    Jamie, what’s the subliminal message bouncing over Ray O’Conner’s right shoulder in the clip? I don’t know about anyone else but I had an irresistable urge to rush out and buy some French Fizz……

  • keith prothero

    Do not think it amazing at all. Willing to bet many could not tell the difference between a very good sparkling wine,and a charlie such as Pol 1990.Certainly could not when I did this a few years ago—in fact 8 out of 10 preferred the SA sparkler!!

  • Alex Lake

    …although that “SA Sparkler” actually had a higher rareity and street value than the fizz at the time, if I recall correctly.

  • keith prothero

    were you there then Alex 🙂

  • Alex

    I was, and I loved the Krone 93. Are any of the more recent vintages as good?

  • glenn

    I tasted the 97 krone back in 2008 and it was great. Still have a bottle at home which I’m hoping to open soon. Don’t know how it compares to the 93 as I haven’t had any. Have had the 02 and 04 and I preferred the 04 to the 02, but the 97 was still better than both.

  • charlie

    sounds like this was a revelation for many tasters. Was the comparisons “apples to apples”… were the vintage champganes and the NV champagnes of the same (surrounding) vintgaes? I’d be more curious to see how well a NV champagne holds up over the course of aging.

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