Kate McIntyre MW and Wiremu Andrews led the way, with tulip glasses (not flutes) correctly deployed, and a cunningly selected cross-section of Champagne presented.
Wines were served in brackets of two, with part of the exercise to determine what the underlying themes were. This was impossible for me; my Champagne consumption is limited by budgetary consideration to less than one bottle each month, so familiarity with house style is theoretical (and some house styles are on the move).
Participants were encouraged to concentrate on structural aspects (such as acid profile, phenolics and oak) rather than merely aromatic and flavor descriptions. This required severe concentration, but was rewarding. Given Champagne winemakers have variables such as reserve wines, MLF options, oak maturation, dosage, and time on lees, it’s no surprise that trying to unravel blending decisions and assess outcomes while compensating for confounding effects from glassware and serving temperature is problematic. And in the real world, a further complication exists – food matching, which vastly impacts appreciation.
Too often Champagne is merely used as an introduction to the “serious” wines at a tasting – it warrants much much more attention.
Bracket 1; same cépage but different houses (Pinot Noir predominant)
- NV Canard Duchene
- NV Bollinger
Bracket 2; same house, different cépage (Chardonnay predominant)
- NV Delamotte Brut
- NV Delamotte Blanc de Blancs
Bracket 3; Vintage 2006
- 2006 Moet & Chandon
- 2006 Mumm
Bracket 4; same house NV vs Vintage
- NV Pol Roger
- 2004 Pol Roger
Bracket 5; Rosé , saignée vs red wine addition
- NV Pommery Rosé (saignée)
- NV Jacquart Rosé
No worthy notes, but the Delamotte Blanc de blancs was a revelation for me. No poor wines here, but it all depends on what you look for and prefer (elegance vs power; what kind of mouthfeel). I left with renewed appreciation of the blending art of Champagne; constructing a wine from lots of moving parts, and an (expensive) determination to drink more Champagne