Archive for the ‘Champagne’ category

Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rose 1998

November 15, 2008

Last week I got an unexpected invitation for a Laurent-Perrier tasting hosted by Ludovic de Lageard that I couldn’t resist. A house with a long history and a remarkable chairman in Bernard de Nonancourt, ups, downs but above all some truly magnificent wines. Freshness and fruitiness are near New World characteristics with  oxidation avoided at all cost. At an annual production of around 8 million bottles – the third largest in Champagne – this approach has clearly paid off in impeccable pureness of every wine in the range with the majestic Grand Siècle at the pinnacle. This Cuvée Prestige surely can be regarded as the essence of Champagne with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from three different vintages blended in a wine with brilliant elegance, finesse and harmony. However, for me the real star of the tasting was the Alexandra Rosé 1998, a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay so delicate and sophisticated de Lageard decided to start the tasting with it. Pink salmon in the glass with a fine appearance and mousse it shows complexity and depth with scents of orange peel, flowers, cherry, currants, strawberries, dried apricots and hint of controlled oxidation. The palate is all about the indulgently soft, velvety and creamy mouthfeel, with lively fruit and crisp acidity further adding shape. It’s pureness, balance and elegance make this one of the better rosés I’ve had so far. 95 points

Source: MGM Wine Distributions  Price: $400  Drink: Now-2015+



Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1985

November 11, 2008

So Barack Obama has finally claimed victory in what certainly was a historical election. On the 20th of January 2009 he’ll be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States of America, exactly 24 years after Ronald Reagan started his second term in 1985. What amazes me is how things have changed over this period of time, politically, physically and technologically, testimonies of an ever evolving matter called World. How could an event as this be welcomed better than with a little note on one of the more lustre Champagnes, changed in its own way since it was born in what is described as one of the region’s more elegant and subtle vintages? After 14 years on lees – this 1985 has been disgorged in 1999 – and a further 9 years in bottle, its colour has slowly evolved from the usual pale straw to a deep golden yellow with a fine and persistent bead disclosing its ongoing youthfulness and longevity. The palate is full and voluptuous showing citrus, hazelnuts, yeast, toasted bread, vanilla, mushrooms and earth with an ever present framework of lemony acid creating liveliness, freshness and elegance carrying through to the long finish. Given its extended lees ageing and relatively long time on cork after disgorgement, this wine clearly shows its age and with its current level of freshness I’m glad this hasn’t been kept in the cellar for another 10 years. 94 points 

Source: Cellar   Price: $500  Drink: now-2012

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