Monday, January 14, 2008


On Saturday I previewed our first-ever romp through Champagne. Funny, I can't say that our group thought it was the "best" tasting, but it was probably the most "fun"... could it be all those bubbles? The wines were as follows (in order of service, unblinded):

NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut
1998 Moët et Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon
1988 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin "Rare Vintage"
1998 Pol Roger Brut Rosé
NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé
NV Bruno Paillard Rosé Première Cuvée

The favourite of the evening was Lloyd's 1988 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin "Rare Vintage", a gift to Lloyd. Twenty year old champagne? Yes! Very nice, and showing great complexity on the nose from the time in the bottle, but still fresh and vibrant on the palate. Creamy caramel, with notes of pear, grapefruit, earthy - smokey and minerally as well. Soft tiny bubbles, harmonious on the palate, a stunning wine - even more so considering that it is available online in the U.S. for ~US$70-80. Bravo!
cork. 12% alcohol
Score: 19/20
Price: C$109 (LCBO)

While it was my fourth place, the group ranked Pramod's 1998 Moët et Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon second place. Shiny gold in the glass with a nice, fine mousse, it was rather simple on the nose - toast/yeasty/smokey, some limes, lemon rind and white flowers. Minerally and focused, a competent effort but emotionally bland in my opinion. I find it hard to believe Pramod got it for this price - at Costco?!
cork. 12% alcohol
Score: 17.5/20
Price: US$120 (Costco)

The top rose and the third favourite (Joe's second favourite) was Chris' NV Bruno Paillard Rosé Première Cuvée. Light salmon-coloured with a very fine mousse, it was perfumey and sublime - rose petals, lime and cherry/kirsch aromas. Harmonious, with a soft mousse and a nice touch of fruit, it was a beautifully textured, seductive champagne. Tough to find, but worth the catch.
cork. 12% alcohol
Score: 18/20
Price: C$77 (SAQ)

Cam's 1998 Pol Roger Brut Rosé edged out my wine for fourth place. A light pink - the deepest pink of the three rosés - it was gooseberries, minerals, tar, and some floral notes. The palate was minerally, toasty, and more aggressive, with larger bubbles than the rest. Nicely done and a great wine on any other night. Cam was suspicious of the very large display - given the QPR he was right to be suspicious.
cork. 12% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: C$91 (SAQ)

Once again, Joe places near the bottom of the pack, as my NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé failed to impress this tough crowd. A pale salmon hue in the glass, it was pine woodsy at first, later lemon-lime, raspberry, yeast and liquorice - toasty but not buttery. Minerally, focused and beautiful - a "manly" pink wine.
cork. 12% alcohol
Score: 18/20
Price C$84.95 (LCBO)

Last to show up for the tasting, and last in the rankings, was Cosme's NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut. Pale gold in the glass, showing apples, hay, green grass and toast on the nose. Green and crisp with a mousse that was not quite up to the others. A nice champagne, but why bother with so many other great champs around? Hard to believe this was from the same house as the 1988 above.
cork. 12% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: C$66 (SAQ)

While the rankings may give the illusion of a close race it was really a case of the top three, and then the rest. Hats off to the smaller producer, Paillard, for the best Rose, and the 1998 Veuve Clicquot for a balanced, complex champagne for a tremendous price. And chalk up another win for Lloyd - Joe is going to have to get serious now...

Next up - Cosme tasks us to compare Barolo and Barbaresco blind, next month...


Lloyd said...

Joe - if you've not been serious so far, I'm getting nervous...very nervous. I think you sell the DP short; for me it was a very close 1-2 call...Champagne moron that I am; just proved that I can pay lawyers well enough to get some very nice gifts now and then...

Joe said...

Hey, I organize a wine group and never win - even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while, but I can't find a winning a wine! Sigh. You have very good lawyers.

Edward said...

What a great sounding tasting! Let me guess you ate oysters and foie gras :)

Joe said...

Hi Ed - Sushi and foie gras, actually. It was fun - our other tastings are very SERIOUS...

Anonymous said...

Ah, how I would have loved to be there. I was in a tasting group, now defunct, that refused to do Champagne as a theme. Maybe that's why it's now defunct.

Joe said...

Hi Farley. Most of our group is not into whites or Champagne, so it took some arm twisting! Our group has been going for over four years with only one white and one champagne evening, and both were in the past four months. A great evening! (Barolo vs. Barbaresco, blind, up next)