Champagne highlights from a marathon tasting

Here are some notes and scores for Champagnes that I tasted in April, at the annual “Champagne Day” in Stockholm, a highly coveted event primarily for professionals, for which I was able to secure a place through a wine tasting club.

Unfortunately, there’s not really time to try everything, and aching teeth probably put an end to the show if there was more time. So the notes are restricted to the highlights, including many of the prestige Champagnes from larger houses. I’ve added “full” notes (some are shorter than what I otherwise write) mostly for those I’ve scored 90 points or more. Given the type of event, crowded and busy, and rather intensive tasting, my scores are probably slightly less reliable than when I sit down to taste in a calm environment. I’ve noticed that under these conditions, my scores tend to crowd a little more to the middle, i.e., both very high and very low scores can be underrepresented. And remember that I tend to be a bit conservative with awarding extremely high scores to start with. I feel that at least someone has to be hawkish on inflation in these times of economic crisis. 🙂

Ayala

Ayala Cuvée Perle d’Ayala 2002
Peach, ripe fruit, definitely concentrated, good acidity. Young. 91-92 p.

Ayala Brut Majeur: 86-87 p.
Ayala Brut Nature: 86-87 p.
Ayala Rosé Majeur: 86-87 p.
Ayala Cuvée Rosé Nature: 87-88 p.
Ayala Blanc de Blancs 2004: 87-88 p.

Bollinger

Bollinger La Grande Année 2002
Nose: ripe fruit, peach, some herbs, oak barrels, perfume, rather typical Aÿ style.
Palate: powerful, red apple, peach, good acidity, spice, long aftertaste. 92-93 p.

Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises (“VVF”) 2002
Nose: very perfumed and powerful, peach, mineral, herbs, Aÿ-styled.
Palate: incredibly powerful and concentrated, wild strawberries and red apple, herbs, mineral, balancing acidity. Young, but accessible now. 95-96 p?
The definite high point of the tasting, since I hadn’t had the opportunity to try VVF before. It’s not exactly a cheap wine… It’s probably one of the most powerful Champagnes I’ve ever tasted. The lady next to me associated to truffle and described the overall impression as “strawberry truffle”.

Bollinger Special Cuvée: 88-89 p.
Bollinger Rosé: 87-88 p.

Egly-Ouriet

A small prestige producer from Ambonnay making Pinot Noir-dominated wines that see rather much oak in their vinification. The wines are generally good, powerful and impressive, but sometimes both the dose of oak and the prices feel a little on the heavy side to me.

Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru
Ripe fruit – peach, pear, some oak, good concentration, good acidity, spicy, powerful, a light bitterness. 87-88 p.

Egly-Ouriet Brut Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes
49 months on the yeast, disgorged August 2009. (So the base wine should be 2004-dominated, I assume.)
Nose: Heavily perfumed, very ripe fruit, peach, some herbs, spice.
Palate: Quite concentrated, quite spicy, discrete herbal notes, mineral, balancing acidity. Young. 92-93+ p.
A good example of a wine with a power sufficient to handle the oak treatment, and in my opinion it outshines the two vintage wines. (They’re usually about the same price.)

Egly-Ouriet Brut Grand Cru Millésime 2000
Nose: mature peach, hint of perfume, dried fruit, rather elegant
Nose: good fruit, balancing acidity, some spice. 90-91 p.
Slightly more elegant in the nose than the 99, but lighter on the palate.

Egly-Ouriet Brut Grand Cru Millésime 1999
Nose: very perfumed, heavy nose, spice, oak.
Palate: good power, spice, balancing acidity, ripe fruit, slight bitterness from oak. 91-92 p.

Veuve Fourny

A rather new and positive encounter to me, they are situated at Vertus, and I have tried a few of their wines, but never more than one at a time. In general they use 30-40% reserve wine from oak barrels for their non-vintage wines, so this is the origin of the oak notes that I could detect in some of them. In several of their wines I found a pronounced minerality with hints of salinity.

Fourny Brut Nature Premier Cru
100% Chardonnay. Apple, some mature fruit, smoke, good fruitiness, mineral, very dry. 87-88 p.

Fourny Grande Réserve Brut Premier Cru
Chardonnay & Pinot Noir. Some oak, apple, mineral, good fruitiness, spice, good acidity. 88-89 p.

Fourny Blanc de Blancs Brut Premier Cru
Some vanilla (oak barrel notes), mineral, citrus, good acidity. Young. 89-90 p. (This Champagne was served at the 2011 Nobel Prize Banquet.)

Cuvée « R » de Veuve Fourny Premier Cru
Chardonnay with some Pinot Noir. Vinified in small oak barrels, i.e., more oaked than the other wines, base wine from 2008 and 2007. Discrete oak notes, very mineral, good concentration, good acidity, long aftertaste with salinity and gravel character. Rather young. 91-92+ p.

Fourny Millésime Brut Premier Cru 2005
100% Chardonnay. Ripe fruit, discrete oak notes, fruity taste, good concentration, minerally, high acidity. 90-91 p.

Pierre Gimonnet

Sign outside Pierre Gimonnet in Cuis

Pierre Gimonnet Fleuron Premier Cru Brut 2002
Nose: Citrus, some dried fruit, some development.
Palate: Good concentration, citrus, good acidity. Rather accessible. 90-91 p.

Pierre Gimonnet Special Club 1999
Nose: discrete development with cocoa powder and some dried fruit.
Palate: high acidity, good fruit, some mineral, some spice. Rather accessible. 90-91 p.

Palmer & Co

Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs 2006
Citrus, mineral, rather elegant nose, good taste, slight bitterness, young. 88-89 p. (This is a rather high score for a Palmer.)

Palmer & Co Brut Reserve: 84-85 p.
Palmer & Co Brut Rosé: 84-85 p.
Palmer & Co Millésimé Brut 2005: 86-87 p.
Palmer & Co Millésimé Brut 2000 (magnum): 86-87 p.
Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs 1997 (magnum): 87-88 p.
Amazone de Palmer Brut: 88-89 p.

Thierry Perrion

A small Verzenay producer.

Thierry Perrion Brut Tradition Grand Cru
80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay.
Red apple, citrus and mineral in the nose, quite noticeable minerality on the palate, good (but not high) acidity. Young. 88-89+ p.

Thierry Perrion Blanc de Noirs
Base wine from 2008, from magnum.
Some herbs, mineral, good acidiy, spice and mineral on the palate. Rather young. 88-89+ p.

Thierry Perrion Cuvée Maurice
100% Pinot Noir from old vines planted 1932 (apparently the oldest in Verzenay), base wine from 2004, no dosage. Not produced in any subsequent vintage, so far.
Nose: aromatic, some flowery notes, herbal, noticeable minerality.
Palate: slightly more than medium bodied, definitely a minty minerality, quite herbal, good acidity. Gives a slighly hard impression with its lack of dosage. Young. 90-91+ p.

Pierre Péters

Pierre Péters Cuvée Spéciale Les Chétillons 2004
Nose: ripe yellow fruit – apple, peach, some herbal notes, discrete perfume, elegant
Palate: slightly more than medium bodied, citrus, peach, other yellow fruit, high acidity, pronounced mineral note, good length. Elegant! Young. 91-92+ p.

Pierre Péters Cuvée de Réserve:
– standard bottles with 2008 base year(?): 87-88 p
– magnum with 2006 base year: 88-89 p

Pierre Péters Extra Brut, base 2004 (have stayed unusually long at the importer’s): 87-88 p
Pierre Péters Rosé for Albane: 87-88 p
Pierre Péters Cuvée L’Esprit 2006: 89-90 p

Pommery

Pommery Cuvée Louise 1999
Nose: bready, developed, some cocoa powder, some dried fruit and a hint of some flower. Palate: medium bodied, good acidity, again dried fruit, some development. Elegant nose but not quite “prestige palate” in my opinion. 90-91 p. (Doesn’t really rise that much above Pommery Vintage quality-wise.)

Pommery POP Earth
Rather developed, good mineral note. 85-86 p
This is a rather newly introduced organic Champagne from Pommery. I find it interesting that they’ve chosen to use the POP designation, that was introduced as a line of colourful, sort of toy-looking small bottles (187,5 ml) with a less dry Champagne intended to be drunk through a straw. In the case of “regular POP” I consider it an inferior Champagne compared to regular Pommery, but that was not the case here. POP Earth is sold in regular-sized bottles, and I recall that I heard that the bottles are slightly lighter than standard champagne bottles (reduces carbon footprint during transport). The idea seems to be that the POP products are aimed at a younger, slightly more trendy audience, and that the organic Champagne also fits under that brand. The question is if that is really a way of thinking regarding branding that really will work. I don’t know if this is just a Swedish way of thinking, but I could imaging that those who prefer an organic product will frown at the other POP products, that look more “consumerist” than the regular Pommery range.

Pommery Brut Royal: 85-86 p.
Pommery POP: 83-84 p. (Tasted from a regular tasting glass, without straw, but was poured from a small bottle.)
Pommery POP Rosé: 82-83 p.
Pommery Springtime Rosé: 84-85 p.
Pommery Summertime Blanc de Blancs: 86-87 p.
Pommery Falltime Blanc de Blancs Extra Dry: 85-86 p.
Pommery Wintertime Blanc de Noirs: 86-87 p.
Pommery Vintage 2004: 89-90 p. Confirms my previous impression of Pommery as a house where the “regular vintage” wine is usually a good buy.

Louis Roederer

Louis Roederer Brut Vintage 2005 (magnum)
Nose: rather good development, some smokiness, ripe apple.
Palate: good concentration and fruitiness, good acidity, young. 89-90 p.

Louis Roederer Brut Vintage 2004
Nose: smokiness, mineral, apple and citrus, good fruitiness
Palate: citrus, high acidity –  more citrus and mineral than the 05, young. 89-91+ p.
Of the three vintages tasted, this is closed to being a “mini-Cristal” in style.

Cristal 2004

Louis Roederer Brut Vintage 2003 (magnum)
Nose: smokiness, development and cocoa powder.
Palate: rather fruity, ripe apples, mineral, a hint of bitterness, good acidity. Rather ready to drink, good balance for an 03. 90-91 p.

Cristal 2004
Nose: ovious smokey notes, discrete fruit notes of red apple, some peach.
Palate: very mineral, grapefruit, red apple, high acidity, very elegant, long aftertaste. The aftertaste and length adds to the score. Young. 93-94+ p.

Louis Roederer Brut Premier: 87-88 p.
Louis Roederer Carte Blanche: 86-87 p.
Louis Roederer Brut Rosé 2007: 88-89+ p.

Pol Roger

Pol Roger Brut Vintage 2000
Good development and breadiness, good fruitiness and acidity. 90-91 p.

Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs 2000
Citrus, some flower, good concentration, good acidity. 90-91 p.

Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 1999
Nose: slightly flowery, ripe fruit (peach), a touch of vanilla.
Palate: good concentration, some dried fruit, balancing acidity, spice, good length. 91-92 p.
The wine tasted last of all, could have been unfair to it since my nose may have been slightly exhausted at that time.

Pol Roger Brut Réserve: 87-88 p.
Pol Roger Pure Non Dosage: 87-88 p.
Pol Roger Brut Rosé 2004: 88-89 p.

De Saint Gall

De Saint Gall Blanc de Blancs Millésime 2004 Premier Cru
Nose: some rather clear development, noticeable minerality.
Palate: quite good acidity, very mineral (“gravel pit minerality”), strict and elegant, still young on the palate. 90-91 p.

Orpale Brut 1998 Grand Cru
Nose: development with some cocoa powder, mineral
Palate: good concentration, some fruitiness with hints of sweetness of fruit, high acidity and clearly present minerality. Young, but more accessible than the 04. 91-92+ p.

de Saint Gall Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Premier Cru: 86-87 p.
de Saint Gall Brut Rosé: 85-86 p.

Salon-Delamotte

Delamotte Brut Blanc de Blancs 2002
Nose: very mineral, hints of flower, green apple.
Palate: very mineral, high acidity, hints of peach. Still clearly young. 91-92 p.

Salon 1999 (from magnum)
Nose: discrete flower, hint of vanilla (can’t say if it indicates oak, which shouldn’t be present, or a hot year), ripe fruit, peach, mineral (but the nose isn’t really extremely minerally), some smoke, definitely elegant.
Smak: clearly minerally attack, with both the gravel and sparkling water type, high acidity (but not extremely high), hints of ripe apple, citrus and some peach, very elegant. Young, but accessible for a Salon at this stage. 93-94 p?
In this case I must say that the vintage character has probably made its mark in the style, and created a Salon that is more “user friendly” already on release compared to what is usually the case. Note as well that this came from a magnum! Those who prefer their Salon in its usual extreme Blanc de Blancs style, completely inacessible as young, could probably think that this vintage is not firm enough for them, and be worried that I could start to tire already in the 2030s or so, at which time Salon 1996 is sure to still be too young and closed-up to be drinkable. 🙂

Delamotte Brut (from magnum, base vintage 2008): 88-89 p.
Delamotte Brut Blanc de Blancs (from magnum, base vintage 2006): 89-90 p.
Delamotte Brut Rosé: 88-89 p.

Taittinger

Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2000
Nose: ripe apples, some honey, hints of vanilla, obvious toasted notes.
Palate: good concentration and fruitiness, good acidity and citrus notes mid-palate, rather noticeable spice, good minerality in the finish. Rather accessible, but somewhat young. 92-93 p.

Comtes de Champagne rosé 2004

Comtes de Champagne Rosé 2004
Nose: flowery, ripe citrus fruit, citrus zest, discrete notes of wild strawberry and spice, some vanilla, a hint of oak.
Palate: fruity, wild strawberries, peach, citrus, noticeable mid-palate minerality, spice, high acidity, the finish is both mineral and spicy with some discrete hints of tannin. Quite elegant, rather young. 93-94 p.

Taittinger Brut Reserve: 85-86 p.
Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé: 86-87 p.
Taittinger Prélude Grands Crus Brut: 89-90 p.
Taittinger Les Folies de la Marquetterie: 89-90 p.
Taittinger Millésimé 2004 Brut: 89-90 p.

De Venoge

Cuvée des Princes 1993 (100% Chardonnay)
Nose: dried fruit, bready, some development, mineral.
Palate: rather good concentration, dried fruit, good acidity and mineral. Elegant, rather fully developed. 91-92 p.
Note: 1993 was the final vintage of Cuvée des Princes; this wine was replaced by the white version of Louis XV.

Louis XV Rosé 2002
Nose: wild strawberry, citrus, mineral.
Palate: good concentration, spice, good acidity and mineral, wild strawberry. Young. 91-92 p.

De Venoge Cordon Bleu: 86-87 p.
De Venoge Blanc de Noirs: 87-88 p.
De Venoge Rosé Brut: 84-85 p.
De Venoge Blanc de Blancs 2000: 88-89 p.
De Venoge Millésime 1998: 88-89 p.

Vranken Pommery & miscellaneous

Demoiselle Tête de Cuvée Brut: 84-85 p.
Demoiselle Parisienne 2000: 88-89 p.
Heidsieck & Co Monopole Blue Top: 84-85 p.

Various small producers sharing the same Swedish importer

This is me holding a bottle of Lilbert’s standard Champagne at another occasion.

Lilbert-Fils Cramant Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2005
Mineral in the nose, possibly some dung heap note (of the Burgundian type), quite noticeable acidity, minerally on he palate, some spice. Impressive, but young. A hard style which remind me of Avize, since Cramant (where Lilbert is located) is supposed to give a softer blanc de blancs style. 90-91+ p.

  • Michel Arnould La Grande Cuvée Grand Cru (2002): 88-89 p
  • Paul Bara Brut Réserve Grand Cru: 86-87 p
  • Audoin de Dampierre Grand Vintage Brut 2002: 89-90 p
  • R & L Legras Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru: 87-88 p
  • Leclerc Briant Les Crayères Brut Premier Cru: 88-89 p
  • José Michel Pinot Meunier Brut: 87-88 p

The Swedish version of this post consists of two parts: 1. introduction and larger producers, 2. smaller producers.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Champagne. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Champagne highlights from a marathon tasting

  1. David Smith says:

    Could you please be so kind as to inform me where I can purchase two cases of Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs 2006 . I live in the U.K

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s