Champagne – a blind tasting of some top bottles, with surprises

champagne

Champagne – a blind tasting of some top bottles, with surprises

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The older I get the more I like Champagne. This makes me sound like an old fart, but it is true. Champagne rocks. It’s a very interesting drink, and it takes a long time to begin to understand it. Slowly, I am beginning to understand it.

Last night I went to a fun blind Champagne tasting, organized by my brother in law William for his colleagues and some of their clients. It was more of a drinking than a tasting, with nine different bottles served single-blind (that is, we knew which wines were in the line-up, but not the order).

Here are my notes, as written. A few surprises, with wines I’d have expected to show well not performing, and a particularly strong showing for the least expensive wine. In this company, the English sparkler didn’t look at all out of place, which we’re beginning to find is a consistent theme in tastings like these.

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Towards the end of the evening there was some lively discussion about favourites, before the reveal. We had to nominate our choice of best, worst, which was the English fizz, and which was the Tesco bottle. As you’ll see from my notes, I rated the Tesco bottle very highly. Pierre Peters wasn’t as nice as I’d expected it to be, and Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs 2002 disappointed (normally one of my favourites). Group favourite was, I think, the Comtes. The Pierre Peters and Grattien fought it out for bottom place. No one had a clue which the English or Tesco wines were.

These wines were sourced from Berry Bros & Rudd, with the exception of the Tesco Champagne. Prices given in brackets.

pol roger

Champagne Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs 2002
Quite rich and toasty. Lively, rich and herby with apples and citrus. A fruity style with lots of toasty richness. Fresh, lemony and quite sweet on the finish. Distinctive and just a little rustic. 89/100 (£70)

conges

Champagne Janisson Baradon Conges 2006
This is a varietal Pinot Meunier, from a single vineyard planted in 1960, and it’s fermented in oak with no malolactic. Very fruity indeed with a waxy, herby edge. Distinctive and quite powerful. Structured citrus fruit with nice intensity, and a savoury quality. Some appley characters, too. 93/100(£53)

taittinger comtes

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2005
Rich and quite toasty with nice sweetness to the fruit: peach and pear to the fore. Accessible and delicious. There’s lots to like here, although maybe it is a bit too obvious, giving too much away? But it’s lovely. 92/100 (c. £120, not currently in stock)

tesco grand cru

Tesco Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2007
Made by Union Champagne. Very creamy nose is rich, fruity and toasty. Powerful palate is lively and creamy with a lemony core and great precision. A Blanc de Blancs? Structured and stylish. 94/100 (£24.99)

pierre peters

Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV
This has a herby, plasticky reductive edge to it that spoils what is otherwise a fresh, pure, linear Champagne. 86/100 (£36)

ridgeview

Ridgeview Knightsbridge Blanc de Noirs 2010
half Noir, half Meunier. Lively, fresh, pure and lemony with some apple and pear notes. Citrussy and bright with a hint of pithiness. So pure and fresh: delicious. 92/100 (£31.95)

cedric bouchard

Champagne Cedric Bouchard La Parcelle Champagne Inflorescence Blanc de Noirs NV
From a single 0.73 hectare plot of Pinot Noir. Creamy, appley nose. Very fine, expressive, subtly toasty palate. Pure and linear. Fresh, lively and really elegant with finesse to the pear and peach fruit. 94/100 (£60)

jacquesson 737

Champagne Jacquesson Cuvee 737 Extra Brut
Lively lemon, pear and toast nose. Distinctive, herby and lemony palate with hints of cherries. Very pure and fresh with nice acidity. 90/100 (£42.95)

alfred gratien

Champagne Alfred Gratien Millesime 2000
Fermented in oak, no malolactic. Very toasty nose: peachy, rich and powerful, with an attractive personality. Rich, seductive style with a nice lemony finish. Bold. 91/100 (£55)

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

8 Comments on Champagne – a blind tasting of some top bottles, with surprisesTagged
wine journalist and flavour obsessive

8 thoughts on “Champagne – a blind tasting of some top bottles, with surprises

  1. Wonder if any of these will show up in your annual Xmas tasting Jamie? I always look forward to that event.

  2. Same inconsistent tasting notes on the Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs 2002. Appears to have lost its edge…for now. Compared to the Pol Roger 2002, there is no contest…a wonderful Champagne.
    We also love the brilliant white foil Pol Roger non vintage although if you want a sparkler which is its equal and packs a sensational price: 2009 Nyetimber Classic Cuvee is hard to beat- Go the English!!
    Also looking forward to the Champagne xmas burn out–thanks :^)

  3. I think it’s very difficult to compare champagnes that are so different in style and value. E.g. to compare Pierre Peters Reserve which is the entrance into this growers Portfolio and which is extremely mineral and sharp to the powerful, rich prestige cuvee Comtes de Champagne or La Parcel from Cedric Bouchard – both cost more than three times as much as Peters Reserve and are the Top Cuvées. It seems as if the group liked very much the full-body champagnes, that may also explain, why the Tesco one was rated that high. Of course Conges and Parcelle are fabulous champagnes, I love them, but the comparison between those champagnes is very problematic.

  4. I thought the Tesco GC showed very well at their tasting. Actually all the major grocers in Ireland – including Lidl and Aldi – seem to have got their act together in terms of their own and private label Champagnes.

  5. I’m pleased you rated the Tesco wine so highly-I did too and felt rather ignorant for saying so in public. I did scrape together a few bottles and particular look forward to its decrepitude.

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