A friend invited a couple of us to a hotel suite where he temporarily had set up his base of operations, and hinted that we would be welcome to bring a bottle of our own. Other than a simpler warming-up bottle, where I didn’t take notes, we tried these:
Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs 1983 (“Mise en cave 1983”)
Golden colour. Clearly developed in the nose, nutty and bready with mushroom, yellow winter apples, some oranges. The palate is very dry and with some notes of age, winter apples, a hint of oranges, mineral and high acidity. Fully developed but with fine balance. 90 p.
The older Diebolt-Vallois blanc de blancs Champagnes that has been sold with age, was apparently produced by their uncle, with the bottles bought in after the uncles death. Vintages 1976, 1979, 1983 and 1985 were made available this way, after being bought in 2003 from the estate of the uncle. This information comes from a friend who used to import them, who in turn heard this from Jacques Diebolt.
Come to think of it, “mise en cave 1983” would reasonably indicate a 1982 harvest, since the second fermentation in bottle tends to be started early the next year?
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1998
Bright yellow. Nose with yellow apples, toasted hazelnuts, some butter, some citrus, mineral; powerful and nuanced. The palate is dry but clearly fruity with good concentration of fruit, yellow apples, citrus (both lemon juice and zest), rather high acidity. 92 p
This was my contribution. For someone who knew what it was, the rather powerful Comtes character with some hints of oak was recognizable. However, from the general vintage character, I had expected a 1998 to be a little lighter and more firm, and what I found in the glass was more like 1999 Champagnes usually are. So those whose guesses went in the Pinot Noir direction are excused.
By the way, I tasted Comtes de Champagne 2004 a week later, without taking detailed notes. Compared to the 1998 it showed more mineral notes – they dominated completely over the fruit – and definitely high acidity. The oak notes was rather noticeable (perhaps it is integrated with time?), and the toasted notes hadn’t quite made itself felt yet. When it had been in the glass for a while it reminded me very much of a white Burgundy, in particular a Puligny-Montrachet. It wasn’t as powerful as the 2002, and perhaps not with with quite the same potential, but a very stylish and high-class candidate for cellaring.
Clear cork defect. I suppose we took a chance by popping corks this day, and this reminded us that Easter is supposed to remind us of the suffering of Jesus.
When it comes to cork defects in Champagne my impression is that it is much less common than for non-sparklig wines closed with regular, “solid” corks (as opposed to those three-part Champagne corks, with one composite cork part and two cork sheets). I’d estimate 1% cork defects in Champagne, while the number for other wines is usually stated as about 5% (perhaps a little more than so for wines from the second half of the 1990s and the first years of the 2000s, and a little less than so for the last couple of vintages). I don’t know why there is a difference, but I guess that the cork sheets in Champagne corks are produced from different cork qualities than the average “solid” cork.
Krug Grande Cuvée
Gold-coloured label with the older type of cork code (“27”) without disgorgement date, so sold sometime during the second half of the 1990s.
Golden colour. Nose with oranges including orange zest, dried berries, some mushroom, slighly nutty. (Possibly there was a very faint note of wet cardboard, that didn’t really disturb the overall impression, possibly a couple of drops from the Pommery had accidentally ended up in the glass.) More than medium bodied, fruity and developed, yellow apple, some oranges, good concentration of fruit, high acidity. Rather fully developed, 92 p.
As usual a “foody” character and rather blanc de blancs-styled. I would place this batch at a medium level in terms of quality and acidity, compared to Grand Cuvée batches in general. As it happens, this was the first Krug of the year for me. Nice to try the first one of the year before the snow and ice had gone away from Stockholm, but less nice that a long winter and a late spring was the reason…
Swedish version of the post here.