Ed McCarthy then spoke about Vintage Blanc de Blancs. They are made from the best grapes from the choicest vineyards. The aromas and flavors are more concentrated and are more full bodied.
They are aged longer which adds more complexity and the grapes are from one vintage which is always an above average year or an excellent one. He said that for him vintage Champagne was the better buy conceding the quality but added not every occasion calls for vintage Champagne. He likes vintage Champagne with dinner and non vintage Champagne as an apéritifs.
Vintage Blanc de Blancs
Champagne Ayala 2008 Grapes are from 5 villages on the Cote des Blancs: Oger, Avize, Cramant. Vertus and Cuis. The wine rests in the cellars for 6 years after disgorgement, in order to develop complexity, intensity and roundness on the palate. It has hints of grapefruit, pastry dough and a hint of spice. Ed likes this house a lot but did not think the bottle he tasted was drinking that well. $85
Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2009 The wine matures on the lees for five years and left for a minimum of 6 months after dégorgment to attain maturity. Ed said there is no dosage and no malolatic fermentation. The wine has floral notes and hints of white fruit, almonds and mint. $85
Champagne A. R. Lenoble 2008 Chardonnay from the Grand Cru village of Chouilly. The dosage is 4g/l. Only 10% of the wine is vinified in wood and there is a very light dosage. The wine has hints of pear, apple and a touch of lemon. $64
Champagne Bruno Paillard 2006 Chardonnay grapes from the Còte des Blancs, all with a 100% classification. The fermentation method they use was established generations ago for Champagne “Demi Mousse”. When the still wine is decanted for the second fermentation in the bottle, less sugar and yeast is added than for traditional Champagne. This results in a less powerful bottle fermentation, producing a pressure of 4.5 kg instead of the normal 5 or 6. The dosage is 5 grams residual sugar. Ed said this is perfect for Blanc de Blancs because it enhances the finesse of the Chardonnay and adds freshness and elegance. This is a complex, elegant Champagne with an array of aromas and flavors with hints of citrus, white fruit, a touch of brioche, toasted almonds and good minerality. It has a long finish and very pleasant aftertaste. $90
Champagne Pol Roger 2008 made from grapes from the Grand Crus of the Cõte des Blancs: Oiry, Chouillu, Cramant, Avize and Oger. There are two débourbages (settlings) one at the press house immediately after pressing , the second “a froid” in stainless steel tanks at 6C for 24 hours. A slow fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with each variety and each village kept separate. There is full malolactic fermentation prior to the final blending. The secondary fermentation takes place in bottle at 9C in cellars 33 meters below street level. It remains here until it undergoes remuage (riddling) by hand a rarity in Champagne today. The wine has hints of grapefruit, apricot and a touch of apple. Produced in limited quantities, this cuvee has been aged for 7 years in the cellars before release. $115. This Champagne was showing very well.
Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2006 Ed said this is one of the few remaining family owned and operated Champagne houses. They age their wines for a long period before release. It is located in Reims, France. This is a complex Champagne with hints of citrus fruit, lime blossom and a touch of grapefruit. Ed is a big fan of this Champagne house and of this wine. It was one on my favorites. $130
Champagne Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs 2002. This was by far the most expensive Champagne at the tasting. The grapes come from the best vineyards and Ed had mixed emotions as to whether it was worth the money. He added it may be one of the best Blanc de Blancs made but it needed more time especially in an exceptional vintage like 2002. There was some controversy about this wine, Ed really liked it but I felt the bottle I tasted was off. $325
Champagne Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millénaires 1995 Chardonnay from the Cotes des Blanc, 4 Grand Cru and 1 Premier Cru. The wine remains in the cellar for 15 years before release. Ed said that they were one of the few houses in Reims that have a magnificent, 2,000 year old Gallo-Roman cellar to age their wines. This is complex Champagne with aromas and flavors of dried and candied fruits, dates, and notes of hazelnuts and almonds. $195