Mixed Champagnes bought cheaply on location

Mid-July I held a tasting in our wine tasting club AuZone under the theme “Champagne bought cheaply on location”, with bottles that I had bought directly from producers during visits in 2010 and 2011, and where I considered the price to have been quite good. I chose three non-vintage blanc de blancs, four vintage Chamagnes (two 2002s and two 2005s), and a non-vintage rosé. All served blind, as usual.

The three non-vintage Champagnes included in the tasting were all “one step up” from the entry level at the respective producer. It is fairly common that small producers have a “regular” non-vintage Champagne and then a slightly better one, that differs by having better grapes, or more reserve wine, or longer time on the lees before being sold. This differentiation is more uncommon with the larger Champagne houses, but does exist e.g. at Gosset. Unfortunately, there exists not standardisation of usage of terms like Reserve, Préstige, or Sélection in Champagne, so these types of cuvées may be called almost anything, although two of them happened to be called Préstige this time. This actually doesn’t mean that they are “prestige Champagnes” in conventional parlance where most major Champagne houses’ ranges can be divided into three levels (standard – vintage – prestige), but rather than they are “prestige versions of a standard Champagne”. Yes, a slightly more consistent terminology would be something to wish for. In any case, this type of non-vintage cuvées – the “one step up” versions from small producers – are almost always a good buy.

Champagne AuZone 20130711

François Billion Cuvée Marie-Catherine Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs
Producer in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, purchased October 2011.

Light yellow. Nose with yellow and green apple, some honey, butter and rather noticeable creamy toffee notes, a small hint of smoke. Dry on the palate, attack with citrus, green apple, mineral, definitely high acidity, citrus-dominated mid-palate, a hint of bitterness, aftertaste with sour and underripe green apple. Slightly developed in the nose, pleasant palate, fresh style, 88 p.

0 best and 3 worst votes.

I’ve been more impressed by this wine at other occasions.

Franck Bonville Préstige Brut Blanc de Blancs
From vineyards in Avize and Oger, purchased May 2011.

Light yellow. Nose with green and yellow apple, citrus with some zest, just a hint of butter and some toffee, a hint of herbs, some flowery aromas. Palate with yellow and green apple, high acidity, some body with some spice, rather long aftertaste with green apple. More powerful than the previous, foody style. 89 p.

2 best and 2 worst votes.

Diebolt-Vallois Brut Préstige Blanc de Blancs
From vineyards in Cramant, Chouilly and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, purchased April 2010.

Light yellow. Nose with citrus, green apple, a hint of peach, flowery (some hyacinth), perfume, some smoke, a faint hint of butter and some toffee. Palate with citrus, green apple, some peach, mineral – almost fizzy tablet character – high acidity, citrus-domindated mid-palate, aftertaste with citrus and green apple. The most fruity of the three blanc de blancs, 89 p.

0 best and 0 worst votes.

Diebolt-Vallois Préstige is usually reliable, but some cellaring usually doesn’t hurt here.

Chartogne-Taillet Millesime Brut 2002
60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, producer in Merfy, purchased April 2010.

Light yellow. Nose with ripe pear, red apple, bread, a hint of red berries, some smoke, mineral, and nougat. Palate with red apple, pear, some spice, some mineral, rather high acidity, some body with some wool impression, long aftertaste with apple. Fruity and apply style, pleasant, still rather young, 89 p.

4 best and 0 worst votes.

José Michel Special Club Brut 2002
50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay, old vines, producer in Mossy, purchased July 2010.

Light to medium yellow. Nose with yellow apple, hints of tropical fruit, honey and some candy notes with a sweetish impression, hints of hydrocarbon and solvent. Palate with citrus, some tropical fruit, apple, good acidity (but not really high), some mineral, long aftertaste with unripe lemon and a hint of bitterness. Definitely odd, more odd than when I have tasted the same wine previously. 87 p

0 best and 5 worst votes, including mine.

When I tried this wine on location in 2010, I definitely liked it much better, and scored it 91-93 p! A sweetish impression and tropical fruit aromas can rather often be found in Pinot Meunier, often in a slightly paradoxical combination with herbal notes. However, the hydrocarbon or solvent notes I haven’t felt before in this wine, or in any other Pinot Meunier-dominated wine. This wine resulted in many odd associations in other tasters.

Marc Hebrart Special Club Brut 2005
60% Pinot Noir (from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ), 40% Chardonnay (from Oiry and Chouilly), purchased April 2010.

Light yellow. Nose with yellow and red apple, pear, some citrus, some apple compote, some bread, rather fruity impression, and just a hint of flowers. Palate with yellow and red apple, citrus, good acidity, some spice, a hint of bitterness, aftertaste with apple and noticeable spice. Spicy and foody style, slightly developed, can take more. 90 p

0 best and 0 worst votes.

Gatinois Millesime Brut 2005
90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay, producer in Aÿ, purchased May 2011.

Yellow with a pinkish hue. Nose with red apple, ripe pear, some bread, noticeable spice, slightly flowery and perfumed, a powerful nose. Full-bodied with red apple, rather spicy, some mineral, definitely good acidity, aftertaste with apple and spice. Most powerful in the lineup, a food Champagne. 91 p

6 best votes including mine, 0 worst votes.

Yes folks, here powerful Aÿ-Pinot makes itself felt clearly, and it has good acidity for a Pinot-dominated 2005. It’s nice to know that there are still a number of bottles in my cellar.

Gatinois Rosé d’Aÿ Brut
90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay, producer in Aÿ, purchased May 2011.

Orange-pink with a copper hue. Nose with wild strawberries, red apples, slightly flowery with some perfume, candy flavouring, and a tinty hint of herbs. Palate with red apples, wild strawberries, noticeable spice, good acidity, quite spicy aftertaste. Foody, the palate better than the nose, 89 p.

0 best and 2 worst votes.

The Swedish version of this post can be found here.

This entry was posted in AuZone, Champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir. Bookmark the permalink.

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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s