Archive for May 2008

Champagne Salon 1996

May 21, 2008

I haven’t been posting notes on the site for a fair while, way too busy drinking wines I guess, but I’m glad to be back for this one. The only question that I kept asking myself for a while is how to write about the perfect wine? An inside story about the House of Delamotte, an elaborate essay on Clos du Mesnil, or the glorious vintage of 1996 maybe? It all seems not enough for this Salon, so when doing a bit of research I got into Richard Juhlin’s masterpiece ‘4000 Champagnes’ and his chapter about rating Champagne in particular. Juhlin employs the scale that goes up to 100 points. A wine that gives no pleasure scores zero points, although most Champagnes deliver enough to earn an average of 50. The mark of 100 points has only been given once; the 1928 Pol Roger Grauves made by the legendary Emile Emond. Juhlin reasons that the highest score should only be given to the perfect Champagne and that’s why he scored some really good ones, including the 1996 Bollinger Vieilles Vignes, 1938 Krug, 1955 Clos des Goisses and 1979, 1988, 1985 and 1982 Krug Clos du Mesnil ‘only’ 99 points, in order to avoid that when a better wine would follow it should be given the impossible 101.

I like Juhlin’s approach, its safe, but how are you sure not withholding the perfect score to the perfect wine? Of course, everything is relative and should be placed within a context or framework, i.e the tasters experience and exposure to a wide range of wines. All I know is that compared to Juhlin my knowledge of Champagne is neglectable, although I can tell the 1996 Salon is one of the best wines I’ve ever had. Pale straw in the glass with a green tinge giving away its youth, the raw material of Le Mesnil tells the story because it didn’t undergo malo-lactic fermentation. The nose is all about intense primary fruit aromas, apples and citrus in particular, with a hint of white bread. The palate clearly shows a low dosage, allowing the same fruit characters to display their acidity, linear and sharp as a knive, yet never loosing its sensuality and splendid balance. So 99 or 100 points? In order to choose, the question remains to be answered  whether I’ll ever have a better wine in the future or not. I don’t know, but let’s hope so! 

Source: Luxury Beverages/Fine Wine Wholesalers Price: $600 Drink: 50+ years