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.
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.
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)
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)
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 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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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