Mid-July a couple of us gather for a BYO evening to taste som prestige Champagnes, although a few other bottles also managed to come along. The wines were served more or less blind.
Michel Lenique Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2006
Appearance: Medium yellow
Nose: Ripe yellow fruit, apple, citrus and peach, some spice.
Palate: Ripe yellow fruit, some sweet fruit, good acidity, some spice, some bitterness in the finish.
Summary: Foody style, but not that much firmness or mineral for a blanc de blancs, and probably with rather high dosage for vintage blanc de blancs. Drinkable now. 88 p
Curiously enough, I can’t find the wine on the producer’s website, so I don’t know if it is produced in oak, as some of us guess. They write about their vineyards – they are located in the premier cru village of Pierry just south of Epernay – but I am rather sure that the fine print on the label said “NM”, i.e., a négociant-manipulant that (also) uses purchased grapes. It didn’t say which grand cru village the grapes were from, so probably a mixture from several villages.
Cédric Bouchard/Roses de Jeanne Inflorescence Val de Vilaine 2010
100% Pinot Noir, disgorged April 2012
Appearance: Pale yellow.
Nose: Smoke, mineral, citrus, hints of flower.
Palate: Pronounced minerality, slightly earthy notes, high acidity, apple.
Summary: Rather young, 89+ p
Something of a the-other-way-around wine compared to the previous one. 100% Pinot Noir istead of 100% Chardonnay. From a non-classified village in the Côte des Bar instead of a grand cru origin. No dosage instead of a regular Brut. Cédric Bouchard is one of the new generation of small growers who produce Champagne in a different way and a very different style than the traditional Champagne houses. Not easy to believe it is 100% Pinot Noir, based on the wine’s style!
I tasted the 2008 earlier this year out of pure curiosity, but then I put it directly on Cellartracker, so I might as well include it here. From 31 March this year:
Cédric Bouchard/Roses de Jeanne Inflorescence Val de Vilaine 2008
Clear yellow colour. An elegant nose with ripe citrus fruit, some yellow apple and white peach, hints of melon, honey and almonds, white flowers and a discrete perfume note, some chalky minerality. Slightly more than medium bodied, with ripe fruit – citrus, red and yellow apples and some peach – on the attack, followed by an intense mineral character and high acidity. The aftertaste is long and fresh, with green apple, citrus and mineral aromas. 90 p.
I’d say that the very first attack almost has sweetness in it because of its ripe fruit, although that might be misunderstood in a negative way, before it gives way to the quite dry mid-palate character. There is elegance and purity throughout. Drinkable now for its freshness, but should definitely be able to develop well for many years.
This means that 2008 showed more fruit than 2010, which at least at present is more strict and more discrete in its character.
Ph. Foreau/Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Réserve 2002
Sparkling Vouvray, i.e., from Loire, grape variety: Chenin Blanc
Appearance: Bright yellow, slightly golden colour.
Nose: Ripe yellow fruit, marzipan, hints of honey, slightly meaty note with some meat stock, smoke.
Palate: A lot of mineral, quite concentrated, high acidity, ripe yellow apples and winter apples, very foody.
Summary: Comes across as quite developed, 89 p.
A very good sparkling for being a non-Champagne. Our guesses went in various directions. When we realised it was something odd I started to consider one of the rarer Champagne grapes since they can give different aromas, and Arbane was one guess. The odd meaty/stocky note in the nose, in combination with our expectations that everything was going to be Champagne, meant that I didn’t consider Chenin Blanc at all. But if anyone had searched for aromas of wool in the nose, I’m sure it would have been possible to find this instead of smoke…
Comtes de Champagne 1999
Appearance: Light yellow
Nose: Noticeably smoky, yellow fruit, apple, mineral, some flower, a hint of honey.
Palate: Dry, rather high acidity, mineral, citrus, green and yellow apples.
Summary: Approachable now med some development, but still rather young, 92 p.
The shape of the bottle could be detected when this one was served, and the style was completely consistent with Comtes de Champagne. Various guesses regarding vintages were shot off, and I ended up on 2000, since it also was quite smoky when I last tasted it, and since the wine showed some development (should rule out 2002 & 2004), but not too developed (as 1998 & 1999 were when I tasted them earlier this year). This 1999 was definitely less developed than the two bottles I included in a tasting in April, when they showed some some nutty aromas and winter apples. Those bottles were directly from a dealer with a rather large stock, and showed the character I had expected from Comtes 1999 at this point in time. Curious that this bottle came across as so much younger.
Appearance: Light yellow
Nose: Some, citrus, mineral, yellow and some red apple, just a hint of flowery notes.
Palate: Citrus, apple, a hint of peach, high acidity, mineral, slightly fruity finish, good concentration.
Summary: Could probably develop more, 93(+) p
Here I actually guessed Cristal, but I didn’t get the vintage right. Curiously enough, I considered Cristal after hearing someone else commenting that it wasn’t Cristal. As usual for Cristal, it was rather blanc de blancs-styled, but with some clues that it actually had Pinot in it, plus some hints of oak, and elegance. He who brought the bottle seemed a little disappointed, probably that it wasn’t more developed, and it almost seemed that I was the one who liked it the best. Based on this bottle, I’d say it would be good to give the 2002 more time, and I definitely think that the potential is there.
Appearance: Bright yellow, slightly golden hue.
Nose: Ripe yellow apple, some winter apple, honey, some development, toasted hazelnuts.
Palate: Apple and in particular green apple, citrus, yellow fruit, high acidity, strong minerality, full-bodied.
Summary: More developed that expected but can take more, 93 p.
When I check Cellartracker and sort my own notes by producer, Krug is actually number one, with 35 notes before this own, all from 2011-2013. But still I didn’t recognise this as a Krug. I didn’t identify that there was any oak in it. This led us to consider Cuvée des Enchanteleurs and then perhaps 1996, which means that we thought it was a blended Champagne showing rather much blanc de blancs character and quite high acidity. Can I perhaps get away with blaming the unusual high proportion of Chardonnay in the 1998 Krug, and try to claim that this makes it slightly atypical? Or am I just trying to dream up bad excuses? In any case, a couple of those present thought this was the best wine.
Selosse Rosé, disgorged 2011
Appearance: Pale pink, copper hue.
Nose: Red apple, wild strawberry, ripe fruit and peack, some spice, powerful and fruity nose, some oak.
Palate: Noticeable minerality, spice, red apples, wild strawberries, high acidity, powerful, foody.
Summary: 94 p
Here my guess was actually Selosse Rosé. He who contributed this bottle thought it was good, but weaker than usual. I on the other hand found this bottle to be unusually good.
Cuvée Winston Churchill 1998
Appearance: Bright yellow
Nose: Some smoke, yellow apple, mineral, nuts, slightly developed, slightly flowery.
Palate: Mineral, nuts, high acidity, green apple, some spice, long aftertaste with apple and mineral.
Summary: 93 p
Here we initially started to think about Dom Pérignon, but with rather diverging opinions on the vintage. After we’d been told that a couple of other guesses were wrong, I tried with Winston.
Bollinger R.D. 1988, disgorged March 2002
Appearance: Deep golden yellow.
Nose: Winter apple, red apples, oranges, some nuts, slightly flowery.
Palate: Powerful, yellow and red winter apples, also green apples, high acidity, good spice, long aftertaste.
Summary: Fully developed, but good tension, 94 p.
Has definitely reached its peak, but since I don’t mind typical old Bolly notes – winter apples and some oxidation – I would definitely not say that it has started to go downhill. The acidity was probably as could be expected by a 1988, and it was at least not less vigourous than the last bottle of R.D. 1990 I tasted 1-2 years ago. This was my contribution, so I knew what it was. I believe the only guesses I heard was Bollinger, but the vintage guesses varied from early 1980s to 1996.
As a finish, I also brought a sweet wine:
Albert Boxler Grand Cru Sommerberg Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive 2006
Appearance: Golden yellow
Nose: Botrytis, spice, some wool, dried fruit, red apples.
Palate: Sweet (“Beerenauslese sweetness”), good acidity, some mineral, spice, baked apples, dried apricots.
Summary: Rather developed, 91 p.
The vote for best wine resulted in two votes each for 1998 Krug and 1988 Bollinger R.D., and one vote each for Selosse Rosé and 1998 Winston Churchill.
The Swedish version of this post can be found here.