Non-dose brut style. It is astoundingly crisp and fresh, the chardonnay is prominent, as freshness is the focus, pure in name and nature.
A dosage of 35g/L of sugar added, making it a demi-sec style. This gives it a more creamy and toasty aroma, with a distinct marzipan and glazed cherry character.
Pol Roger Reserve 2002
A wine with amazing integration of acid, fruit and yeasty complexity, finesse and elegance beyond comparison. The wine appears to explode like a firework from the middle of the palate. It is both approachable and yet subtle and complex, but having only recently been disgorged and dosed needs more time in bottle before release.
If this wine is so good now, it is not hard to imagine how good the 2002 Sir Winston Churchill will be. Very generously I was given a bottle of the current vintage, the 1999, to enjoy at a later time with food, along with a bottle of the 2004 Reserve Rose (also not yet released). Slightly encumbered I thanked my wonderful house and hurried to my final appointment for the day.
Pol Roger range
Aromatically this wine interestingly combines raspberry with a savoury salty Edam cheese, and on the palate has a nice textural element. Approachable but not simple.
Brut Souverain NV
50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir blend, has complexity of fruit and lees texture, and is delicate yet fresh.
Blanc de Blancs NV
More restrained and broad, with soft creaminess and a nice rich lemongrass character. After looking at the wine fresh from bottle we then had a second look after transfer in a carafe. The second look showed much toastier elements which were subdued initially, and also a nice smoky cheese element.
Nice vanilla brioche croissant, smoky citrus, subdued and soft, a little simple? Toastiness and texture on the palate, sherbert bomb lemon sorbet, evolving in the glass, good length and harmony.
Cuvee des Enchanteleurs 1998
also looked wonderful, and the enjoyment of it was enhanced as we tasted it in the cellars surrounded by bottles in riddling racks.
All of the various elements are present, such as the pure fruit expression, the toasty oak and autolysis complexity, and the harmonious blending of varieties and villages. There is complexity and elegance, but still freshness which is so important in today’s market.
Youthful vibrancy, exhibiting lovely honeysuckle, peach and Satsuma aromas. There is also some lees derived toffee and spiced apple pie crust. More generous than the 1998
Krug 1998 Krug
Tighter more concentrated acids through the mid-palate, particularly citrussy. The complex characters are more in the burnt custard, marmalade and toasty croissant.
Nice bright and fresh, great fruit aromatics, citrus. Nice mid-palate fruit balance, pear and apple, minimal yeast autolysis interference, friendly fresh wine.
Brut Blanc de Blancs
Lovely fresh citrus florals, pure chardonnay expression, amazing vibrant fruit palate.
Blanc de Blancs 2002
More subtle autolysis fruit combination, toasted marshmallow and brioche. Glazed peach honey, rich broad toasty caramel, peach cobbler, nice texture.
Amazingly subtle charcuterie, wild flower honey lemon butter. Floats above the plate, waves and waves of complexity, hints of creamy generosity, ethereal, there but not there, powerful expression yet hauntingly subtle.
Wonderful harmony, rich toasty balance, delicate yet complex and full, toasted hazelnuts and a very food friendly NV.
La Grande Année 2002
Much tighter and fresher nose, citrus and apple crumble. Exceptional acid integration, toasty depth and richness, small berry notes, smoked cheese barrel characters.
Very clean and balanced but showing little character and texture.
Grande Année Rose 2004
Very impressive, exhibiting lovely savoury elements of game, smoked salmon and delicate truffle notes. No surprising the strength of the grand cru pinot noir they are using for this wine.
The golden colour was very noticeable compared to the other white champagnes. The way the multitude of flavours gently caressed the palate gaining momentum as it made its way back, was simply extraordinary. Poached pear combined with shiitake, roasted pine nuts combined with salted pie crust.
Bollinger RD 1995
Brut Royale Reserve
A lovely brioche and lemon tart complexity, soft and broad, and yet had lovely freshness and balance to it with a toasty honey finish.
Appeared a little flat and sharp, with no approachability or subtlety and not a lot of character.
Grand Blanc 2005
A slightly crunchy and dirty acid and leesy complexity, coupled with a creamy citrus nose.
Reserve Millesime 2003
Too broad and fat, lacks structure and elegance, too fruity and rich.
Cuvee 1522 2002
Very powerful in fruit, yet had very elegant expression. Crème brulée combined with lemon butter and brioche.
Clos des Goisses 2000
The colour is much more golden than others, a product of its age, variety and ripeness. The textural ripeness results in the wine exhibiting an almost lanolin character, combining with honey and dried peach. I admired the audacity of this style, and imagined the many types of food that would pair with this wine. I did wonder how the wine would age though…
Quite pinot noir dominant, good autolysis yeast notes, excellent extension on the palate.
2011 Chouilly Grand Cru Chardonnay
Very delicate and refined nose, great acid balance, quite rich and full, very broad citrus.
2011 Mesnil-sur-Oger Chardonnay
Quite rich and developed, amazing watercress clementine, balanced and rich in depth, creamy malolactic influence, bright citric elegance.
2011 Pierry Chardonnay
Tight and fresh, more approachable, broader and softer, good fruit character.
2011 Sezanne Chardonnay
A significant contributor of acid in the assemblage.
2011 Montagne de Reims Pinot Noir
Dirtier earthy berries, fuller and more astringent, not a great component.
Taittinger chef de cave
A common theme across all of my visits in Champagne (both in 2010 and 2012), is the importance of vineyards, and particularly growers. This was the major theme of my first visit of the day. Something even more important in Champagne that I have stumbled upon is the pioneering women of the region, many of whom not only kept houses operating after husbands or fathers perished, but dramatically improving quality. It is undeniable that the largest market for champagne in every market is female consumers, so I feel they are missing out on an opportunity to empower their consumers through communications and messaging about the pioneering spirit of women Champenois. This was a discussion point of my second visit of the day.
|Unique cellars at Laurent-Perrier
During my week I had several engaging discussions with many of my hosts, and we shared our philosophies on wine and champagne. As this was my second visit to Champagne and considering my history with Domaine Chandon Australia, I feel like I have come to a reasonably good understanding of Champagne and what the most important things are. Champagne as a product is probably the best example of wine marketing, and brand strength and recognition has been built around the category. Today there are many more competitors for champagne around the world, and with so many houses and so much wine coming out of this small region, the question becomes how to stay relevant and competitive in a saturated and (currently) stagnant market?
|A lovely welcome at Pol Roger
As aficionados and visitors to Champagne would know, there are considered to be three main areas where grapes are grown in the region. Two of these areas are between Reims and Epernay; the Montagne de Reims which is famous for pinot noir, and the Marne Valley famous for Pinot Meunier. The third area is to the south of Epernay, and is the Cote de Blanc famous for chardonnay. It just so happened that the majority of the houses I visited in 2010 were in either Reims or Epernay, and occasionally in Ay and Mareuil-Sur-Ay, which are both in the Montagne de Reims. I was very pleased therefore to get the opportunity to drive down into the Cote de Blancs for the first time to make my first appointment for the day. It would no doubt have been nicer during Spring, Summer or Autumn, but at least I got an idea of the terroir of the appellation.
|The famous Clos de Mesnil