A large wine tasting club I’m active in, Munskänkarna in Stockholm, arranges a Champagne tasting every year in May. This tasting is in an “open” format, where the participants taste the wines two at a time (with a sub-theme for each pair) in their own pace.
This year’s version happened three weeks ago, and included two prestige 2005s. Most of the rest were chosen among Champagnes that are widely distributed in Sweden. Last time I wrote about a similar tasting was two years ago.
Palmer & Co Brut Réserve
Approx. 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier. The producer is a well-reputed cooperative in Reims.
Nose: well waxed green apple, citrus, mineral, a hint of flowery notes, rather fruity impression that goes in the blanc de blancs direction due to the absence of red fruit notes.
Palate: fruity with green apple, citrus, good acidity, some del mineral, and an aftertaste with green apple.
Summary: a fully correct Champagne that is definitely good in its relatively modest price bracket, with a fruity style where (waxed) green apples dominates my impresion, say Granny Smith or something similar. Probably a notch better than some earlier batches. 86 p
This Champagne sports a high proportion of Chardonnay for a “standard cuvée”, since Palmer has many members in the villages on the Eastern side of the Montagne de Reims where Chardonnay dominates, an area sometimes called “Perle blanche”.
2008 Palmer & Co Millésime Brut
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Nose: citrus, grönt apples and some red apples, slighly flowery, slightly bready, somewhat deeper and more powerful nose than the non-vintage sibling above.
Palate: citrus, green apples, high acidity, quite fine minerality, aftetaste with citus and green apples.
Summary: rather fruity style for a vintage Champagne, but also here the Chardonnay component “speaks” more clearly than the Pinot Noir. Rather young, could develop more, 89(+) p.
The vintage version of Palmer is usually a good value, and this one is no exception! I’d say that the 2008 impresses more now than when it was launched last year, which isn’t too surprising since another year on the cork tends to be good for most Champagnes.
Pierre Peters Cuvée de Réserve
100% Chardonnay. The producer is a small grower in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in the Côte de Blancs.
Nose: citrus, green apples, hints of tropical fruit, mineral, some white flowers and light bready notes.
Palate: citrus, green apples, good minerality with a light mineral bitterness, high acidity, aftertaste with mineral and some green apples.
Summary: clasical blanc de blancs with a fine minerality but somewhat approachable style. This bottle comes across as being from a batch that is somewhat better than the average. Rather young but approachable now, could develop, 88(+) p.
André Clouet Grande Réserve
100% Pinot Noir. The producer is a small Champagne house (ex-small grower) in Bouzy.
Nose: red and yellow apples together with hints of green apples, rather noticeable bready notes. Rather powerful nose, more classical and bready than the three previous ones.
Palate: yellow and red apples, some spice notes, good acidity, apply-spicy aftertaste with a hint of bitterness.
Summary: rather foody, shows some developed notes (more than the previous three). 87-88 p.
A good Champagne for its price, but in all honesty not the very best batch of André Clouet I’ve tasted in terms of concentration and “quality of fruit”, although it does have the advantahe of having pleasant developed notes.
André Clouet Silver Brut Nature
Nature = Champagne without any dosage, i.e., drier than the standard style.
Nose: nuanced smoky nose with mineral, some stone and road dust notes together with hints of clay (a “zero dosage small grower nose”), some citrus, apples and bready notes, hints of herbaceous notes. Somewhat different from the rest of the young ones.
Palate: fully dry, noticeable minerality with a light mineral bitterness, citrus, high acidity, and a green-apply aftertaste with some bitterness.
Summary: fine build and almost “classical modern small grower notes”, but still doesn’t quite have the concentration that allows it to compete with the best, and the bitterness comes through. Has probably been a little better in other batches. 87-88 p.
The Silver version is sometimes noticeably better than the regular André Clouet above, but not this time, although it is very different. Champagnes with no dosage is a bit of “love it or hate it”. Many devoted Champagne fanatics consider any dosage – addition of sugar after riddling – to be negative and something that hides the real wine, while others consider Champagnes without dosage to be a bit “mean” on the palate. Since it is easier to mask minor defects with dosage, the producers must be a bit more careful when producing versions without dosage.
A Sec = “off-dry” with 18 g/l sugar, compared to max 12 g/l in a regular Brut. 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot, both Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The producer is a large Champagne house in Reims.
Nose: fruity with ripe apples, white currants, hints of melon, peach and tropical fruit.
Palate: off-dry (but dryish), fruity impression, decent concentration, good acidity, slightly spicy, and a fruity aftertaste.
Summary: fruity, easy to drink, but also rather foody style. 86 p.
Nocturne is intended as an easy to drink nightclub Champagne, which explains why the whole bottle looks like a pink-purple disco ball. By the way, a rosé version was launched last year.
Lanson Black Label
50% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Meunier. The producer is a large Champagne house in Reims. Unfortunately, I missed to check the disgorgement date (month), which is indicated on the back label by Lanson.
Nose: herbaceous nose with yellow apples, very light bready notes. The nose changed quite a lot as the wine sat in the glass, and initially gave a more fruity impression.
Palate: rather dry impression, apples, good minerality, noticeable acidity, and aftertaste with grapefruit notes.
Summary: slightly tough, less red-apply than some other Lanson batches, young and could develop, 86+ p.
Of the largest houses, Lanson is alone in not practicing malolactic fermentation in any of their Champagnes. This means that Lanson is high in acidity, despite a high proportion of Pinot, and can often be a bit tough as young. Most Champagnes improve with some cellaring, but Lanson Black Label is often more in need of additional time than most other “standard cuvees” from major houses.
Veuve Clicquot Brut
50-55% Pinot Noir, 28-33% Chardonnay, and 15-20% Pinot Meunier. The producer is a large Champagne house in Reims.
Nose: yellow and red apples, some citrus, slightly bready.
Palate: fruity, actually not a very dry impression (this time around), apple, some peach, good acidity, fruity aftertaste.
Summary: fruity, easily accessible, 87 p.
Georges Vesselle Grand Cru Brut
90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. The producer is a small Champagne house (grower size) in Bouzy.
Nose: rather powerful nose with peach, red apples, and some perfume note. This shows the typical character of Pinot Noir from south-facing slopes.
Palate: good concentration, red apples, good acidity, noticeable minerality, slightly spicy, and a red-apply aftertaste with spiciness.
Summary: powerful and foody for a “standard Champagne”, definitely good Pinot fruit, approachable now, 89 p.
A clear recommendation for those who like Pinot-heavy Champagne!
1998 Georges Vesselle Colléction Millesimes
90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay.
Nose: noticeably developed nose with old red and yellow apples, a hint of fried apples, some citrus, slightly spicy notes, some minerality, some clay. I like the nose, but this Champagne probably has a more developed nose than what some prefer…
Palate: yellow apples, some citrus, pronounced spice notes, pronounced minerality, high acidity, apply and spicy aftertaste with a hint of bitterness.
Summary: fully developed, a Champagne for those who like them mature, not as typical Pinot notes as the non-vintage G. Vesselle above, 90-91 p.
Definitely recommended for those who enjoy really mature Champagne.
2005 Dom Pérignon
60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, no oak. The producer Moët & Chandon is the largest Champagne house of them all and is located in Épernay.
Nose: apples including some fried apples, slightly spicy, quite pronounced minerality, slightly “muted” or “bass” notes, and a bit of a hot vintage style without being directly fruity.
Palate: pronounced minerality, some apples including fried apples, good acidity (but not really high), slightly spicy, good substance on the palate, and an aftertaste with minerality.
Summary: rather ready to drink now, noticeable minerality, slightly more spicy and “muted” than other vintages of Dom Pérignon (and not quite as pronounced acidity), which I pronounced as a hot vintage style. 92 p.
The vintage in distribution has just changed from 2004 to 2005, so this was the first time I tasted this vintage. Since Moët & Chandon skipped the 2005 vintage for their regular vintage Champagne, I wasn’t sure they would do a 2005 Dom P. In my opinion they have succeeded quite well with this one, given that it is a vintage where some prestige cuvées probably haven’t been produced. The hot vintage character is noticeable, but the minerality is quite underlined. My guess is that it will develop rather quick, and get the toasted notes that are typical for Dom Pérignon. Although it surely can take long cellaring, it will probably be a good idea to finish your last 2005 before your last 2004 and 2002, in case your cellar is stocked with all three. The 2005 is stated to be produced in small quantity, but that is probably on a relative scale compared to other vintages of Dom Pérignon. 🙂
2005 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne
100% Chardonnay, a small proportion of new oak barrels.
Nose: rather expressive nose with yellow apples, hints of tropical fruit and honey, some green apples and herbaceous notes, rather pronounced minerality with smoky notes that could originate from the oak.
Palate: ripe citrus, green and yellow apples, hints of tropical fruit, good acidity (higher than the 2005 Dom Pérignon), good fruit concentration, rather good minerality, rather fruity aftertaste with grapefruit.
Summary: rather ready now, fine balance and good acidity for a hot vintage, has development potential, 92-93(+) p.
The 2005 Comtes de Champagne has definitely a good acidity for the vintage and therefore a lot of balance and elegance. But interesting enough, I’d say that Dom Pérginon shows more mineral notes. Compared to last year, when this vintage was launched, the 2005 Comtes is more in a “drinking phase” now. Last year I was surprised how firm it was, because Comtes is usually a “consumer friendly” prestige cuvée that tend to reaching its drinking plateau earlier than many other prestige blanc de blancs. At the same time, I think this one of the 2005 Champagnes that could be cellared the longest, since my guess is that some of those that are the most long-lived (such as Krug and Salon) won’t release any 2005s.