Once again Ed Mc Carthy, author of “ Champagne for Dummies,” organized a fantastic Champagne tasting for the Wine Media Guild at Il Gattopardo restaurant in NYC. All of the wines he presented were Prestige Cuvèe and Vintage Champagnes.
Ed began by speaking about the vintages in Champagne. He said 2002, 2008 and 2012 were the great vintages in this century so far. He added that every one in Champagne is raving about the 2018 but they will not be released for some time.
Ayala Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2012 made from 100% Chardonnay from 100% Cote des Blancs Grand Crus: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Chouilly and Cramant. The average time the wine spends on the lees is 6 years. Dosage is 6 grams/liter and the alcohol is 12%. It is produced in small quantizes and only in exceptional years. This is expressive Champagne with hints of lemon, white fruit, yellow plums and chalky minerality. $ 70
Boizel Champagne Grand Vintage 2007. Made from 40% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. 3% of the wine is aged in oak casks. The wine spends 7 years on the lees. This is elegant champagne with hints of ripe fruit, a touch of almonds and apricots and a note of licorice. $80
Ed liked this Champagne and said it should be better known.
Champagne Eric Taillet “Bensionensi“ Extra Brut 100% Pinot Meunier-Blanc de Meunier. Grapes are from the Marne Valley, Bensionensi terroir and the average age of the vines is 25 years. The soil is clay and limestone. Sustainable viniculture, with grass growing between the rows, no chemical weed killer is used. Application on foliage is of pure algae and certified organic oligo elements. Traditional Dollat type wood press is used. There is an extraction and fractioning of press juices and natural must settling. Thermoregulation fermentation is at 65F. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine matures on the fine lees. The wine is aged for 36 months. Dosage is 4g/l, with 2004 vintage base wine and cane sugar. $80
G.H. Mumm RS Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut 2012 Made from 100% Chardonnay from the Grand Cru Village of Cramant. It is a single vintage release 2 years after the harvest. The dosage is 6g/l. Alcohol is 12.5. It has hints of fresh fruit with notes of lemon and grapefruit. Ed said this was a lighter style Champagne. $70
Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Natural made from 2/3 Pinot Noir and Meunier and 1/3 Chardonnay.The grapes are grown in the Coteaux de Cumieres exclusively. 25% of the wine is vinified in oak casks. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged for 5 years in the cellars and left for a minimum of 6 months after disgorging. There is no dosage. The wine has hints of peach, hazelnuts with citrus notes and a touch of pepper. $70
Palmer & Co Vintage Brut. 2009 . Made from 50/55% Chardonnay, Pinot Noir 30/35% and reserve wine 30/35%. The grapes come from the best vineyards in the Champagne region: from Premiers and Grand Crus of Montagne de Reims. The wine ages on the lees. It remains in the bottle for 4 rears before release and 6 years for the magnum. Dosage is 8 g/l. It has hints of citrus, pear, apricot a note of hazelnut and a touch of brioche. Ed said this is not a new Champagne but it is just coming into the US market now. Ed liked it. $50
Collet Champagne “Esprit Couture” NV made from 40% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir and 19% Pinot Meunier from only 10 villages and composed of Premier and Grand Crus. The wine is aged for a minimum of 5 years in their chalk cellars. Dosage is 7.5 grams of sugar is added per liter. This is an elegant Champagne with floral notes, hints of stone fruit and citrus with an intense finish. This was a favorite of every one I spoke to including Ed. I liked it a lot $99
Alfred Gratien Champagne “Cuvee Paradis” Rose NV made from 63% Chardonnay and 37% Pinot Noir. Traditional vinification and maturation in 228 liter oak casks, with self-imposed limits on production levels. To ensure that it maintains its original character they make a conscious decision not to use malolactic fermentation in the production of this Champagne. This was the only Rosè at the tasting and it was showing very well. The wine has hints of orange blossoms and red berries with a touch of toast, nice minerality and a long dry finish. It is an excellent rose $100. Suzie Kukaj-Curovic, Associate Director Public Relations for Mionetto USA, presented this Champagne.
Bollinger “ La Grande Anneë” Brut 2007 made from 63% Pinot Noir and 37% Chardonnay. This was one of my top wines. Both Ed and I felt that it would age very well. It is intense, concentrated, rich Champagne with aromas and flavors of toasted brioche. Champagne. $125
Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Brut 2011 Made from 50% Chardonnay from the grands crus of Cramant and Avize, 45% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and 5% Pinot Meuniers from Dizy. The dosage is 9 g/l and the wine is aged for over 6 years in the cellars.The wine has citrus aromas with hints of orange and lemon peel. On the palate there were white fruit flavors and a touch of almonds. $150
Ruinart, Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blanc 2007 made from 100% Chardonnay-63% from Cote des Blancs and 37% from Montagne de Reims. This is the 23rd vintage of the Blanc de Blancs. It has been aged on the lees for nine years; its slight sweetness comes from a low dosage. This is an elegant Champagne with citrus flavors and aromas, a touch of brioche and a hint of hazelnuts. Ed liked it $130
Taittinger “Comtes de Champagne” Blanc de Blancs 2006. The grapes are pressed immediately in presses located in the vineyards. The first pressing, known as the “cuvee” is followed by two more pressings known as the first and second “tailles.” Only the juice from the cuvee goes into this wine. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place and about 5% of the wine is matured for a few months in 225-liter new oak casks. Prior to disgorgement the wine is aged for 9 or 10 years. This is their flagship Champagne. Ed described it as being full and rich. It has always been one of my favorites. It was toasty with hints of white fruit, good acidity and a long lingering finish. $130
Moet & Chandon Champagne Dom Pérignon Plenitude Deuxieme P2 2000 made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir.
This Champagne spent 16 years in the cellars. After 7 years the P2 Bottles are turned upside down, sur pointe, to slow down the oxidation process. The wine is regularly tasted by the Dom Pérignon oenologist to determine the perfect time for release. Each bottle is disgorged by hand prior to release.
This is elegant, intense and complex Champagne with notes of honey, orange fruit, ginger and a touch of almond. It was not showing any signs of age and would be perfect with caviar. $350. This was the most expensive Champagne but worth the money.
Henriot Champagne “Cuvee Hemera” Brut 2005 made only in exceptional years from a blend of Grands Crus Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in equal parts. The Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs, from Chouilly, Avize and Mesnil-su-Oger. The Pinot Noir from the north of the Montagne de Reims, from Maill Champagne, Verzy and Verzenay. The wine is aged on the lees for a minimum of 12 years. The Dosage is 5g/l. This is a full flavored wine with hints of apricot and citrus fruit. There are toasted notes and a touch of honey. This Champagne will age. $200
Piper-Heidsieck “Rare” Brut 2002 made from 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay from twelve 100% rated Grand Cru Villages. This needs at least 15 years from the vintage date to develop fully. It was interesting because I found aromas and flavors of spice and ginger with citrus fruit and good acidity. 2002 was an excellent year in Champagne, $155
Krug Brut Grande Cuvé Brut 166th ed. NV made from 45/55% Pinot Noir, 15/20 Pinot Meunier and 25/35 Chardonnay–the percent depends upon the vintage. They blend about 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages and it is aged for at least 6 years in the cellars. All of their Champagnes are aged in used small oak barrels. They are all prestige cuvees made from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages and are aged longer before release. The overall rating for the vineyards is 98% with Krug’s own vineyards rating 100%. As Ed said, obviously this is not just another NV Champagne. It is Michele’s favorite. $150
Veuve Clicquot “La Grande Dame” 2008 made from 62% Pinot Noir and 38% Chardonnay. Verzenay/Avize are the two dominant crus in the blend of eight grand crus from Clicquot’s own 100% rated Grand Cru Vineyards on the Còte des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims. It has hints of white peaches, apricots and brioche. It needs two or three years from release in order be at its best. $150
All prices are an approximation.