Reviewed: 31st January 2015
Drinking Champagne is about much more than just what is in the glass. The history of the region, the reputation of the producers and the house style (recipe) all add to the enjoyment. The mystique associated with the experience is key to what makes Champagne so special.
Tasting Champagne blind is always an illuminating exercise. Without all of the external cues and biases, the intrinsic quality of the wine is allowed to shine.
As has been the way in several recent tastings, it was the non-vintage (NV) Champagne from Moet that threw up one of the biggest surprised. This is a wine that is produced in massive volumes (21 million bottles per year), with grapes sourced from many growers. Yet the quality and consistency in recent years has been exemplary. That it is often discounted to around $50 is remarkable in itself.
Overall though, the consistency and sheer quality of the wines of Veuve Cliquot and Pol Roger were the stand outs.
As to Champagnes made with a high level of residual sugar, I will leave this for teenagers to review.
Pol Roger – Champagne – Blanc de Blanc – 2002 (18.8). This is a rich wine, with very powerful fruit. The palate is so complex, intense and long. The palate builds and evolves in the glass, with autolysis notes, creamy texture, green apple acidity and a degree of richness that comes from bottle age. Razor-like acidity adds life to this tremendous wine!
Veuve Cliquot – Champagne – 2004 (18.6+). Complex, developed, rich and broad, but not coarse. The palate is textured, long, supple, round and complete, with marvellous mouth-feel and balance. A totally delicious wine!
Veuve Cliquot – Champagne – NV (18.5). A racy, thrilling wine that is very youthful. The acid is fresh, reminiscent of granny smith apples. That said, there is a degree of complexity and the balance is excellent. A lovely aperitif style that has excellent mouth-feel and texture. The power really builds in the mouth. Superb!
Ruinart – Champagne – Blanc de Blanc – NV (18.5). Elegant, yet with power and intensity. Initially, this is a little reserved on the palate, but it has latent power. Opens to show lemon, peach, nectarine and grapefruit, with a hint of minerality. Great stuff!
Veuve Cliquot – Champagne– Rose – NV (18.5). Amber-stained colour. The red fruit notes are more obvious on the nose. Rich, textured, long and powerful, yet fine, refined and elegant. A most attractive wine that ticks all the boxes. The colour is achieved by the addition of 12% Pinot Noir prior to bottling.
Billicart Salmon – Champagne – Sous Bois – NV. (18.5). Very fine mousse. This is a beautiful, almost ethereal wine that is delicate and refined, yet has underlying depth. The length and mouth-feel are features. An extraordinarily fine wine of real class. (Sous Bois refers to the fact that this wine was aged in oak).
Pol Roger – Champagne – NV (18.1). This is a lovely wine! Taut, lean, elegant and refined, this is very long and fine. Deceptively approachable, but there is real depth to the fruit. Creamy and textured, this wine needs no accompaniment.
Moet & Chandon – Champagne – NV. (18). Delicate and refined nose, with floral fruit notes. The palate is bright and fresh, the acidity the perfect foil for the red fruit richness. Excellent length, mid-palate persistence and a sensible dosage make this an excellent aperitif. The lemony acid provides focus.
Egly Ouriet – Pinot Noir/Chardonnay – Grand Cru – Brut Tradition – NV. (18). Darker colour hinting at amber. The rich, pinot-dominant fruit leaps from the glass with this wine (strawberry and honeysuckle). The creamy (lees influenced) texture combined with bread dough and a degree of bottle aged richness suggests a serious wine that is more suited to light food than as a summer afternoon drink. (Low dosage, 2008 base stock, 30% Chardonnay).
D’Sousa – Champagne – Merveille – NV (18). Balance is the key here on both the nose and palate. This is a complete wine that has a degree of fruit richness, yet has a refined, elegant finish. Quite complex, with hints of autolysis and toast. The softer middle palate is the result of the wine spending two years on lees and undergoing 100% malo-lactic fermentation. (Biodynamic).