Champagne – Tasting Notes

A PAIR OF GEMS FROM ONE OF THE FIRST FARMER FIZZ PRODUCERS IN THE EARLY 80s April 2021

NV J. Lassalle, Brut, Cuvée Préférence,1er Cru (RT93) 60% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir with an average age of 50 years, aged 4 years prior to disgorgement. This is a classic nonvintage bottling that reveals the Lassalle house style to a tee. Soft, round and supple, offering a delicious easy drinking Champagne. Notes of white stone fruits, honeydew melon, hints of ginger, honeysuckle and chalk mark the bouquet, while the palate is deliciously layered with tasty fruit and soft acidity. The old vines shine through on this bottling adding depth and dimension. Drink now

2005 J. Lassalle, Brut, Cuvée Spéciale, 1er Cru (RT95) 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir with an average age of 50 years, aged 7 years on lees prior to disgorgement. This wine is made exclusively for the U.S. market and like other Lassalle bubbles this wine receives 8 grams/liter dosage. The ambiance is far reaching and complex as notes it reveals a more delicate dimension with gorgeous notes of ripe Bartlett pear, lemon curd, Opal apple, hints of wet gravel and a distinct creamy character. The palate shows marvelous concentration and depth, this is a fabulous bottling from one of the very first grower champagne houses. Drink now-2030+

APRIL 2021

2006 Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Brut (RT97) This superb vintage of Dom Pérignon has the focus and linear alignment to make it a classic, and its future is bright. Long into the future it will be drinking extraordinarily well. It reveals classic notes of peach, white flowers, lemon zest, chalk dust, and gun flint. With time in the glass brioche, almond and pasty crust emerge. In classic Dom form it ebbs and flows and evolves constantly, a thing of beauty to behold, its ripeness exceptionally excellent. I’ve had this on numerous occasions and it always shows a magical, expressive personality. While it may not be the longest aging vintage, it shows what world class wine making is capable of. Drink now-2036

BENCHMARK BLANC de BLANCS! March 2021

2006 Taittinger, Champagne, Blanc de Blancs, Comtes de Champagne (RT 96+) An epic bottle, I cellared well over a case on release and this is the third bottle I’ve check in on. All three have showed enormous consistency and prowess, but tonight’s is now beginning to show this wine coming together magnificently. Larger sized bubbles still dominate showing the wines’ youth, but with time in the glass the bubbles become finer. Showing sublime notes of lemon peel, almond, chalk dust and hints of green berry, the palate is seamless, and an element of brioche emerges as time goes by. Finishes crisp and fresh, it’s weightless in its mouthfeel. This is a monumental champagne that will continue to deliver exceptional drinking for many years. Highly recommended, this is one of the finest values in tête de cuvée’s. Drink now – 2040+

PIERRE GIMONNET’s ON FIRE February 2021

2012 Pierre Gimonnet et Fils, Brut, Cuvèe Special Club Grands Terroirs de Chardonnay (RT94+) Crafted from vines ranging from 60-100 years old, this 100% Chardonnay is 84% Grand Cru grapes with the balance sourced from 1er Cru vineyards. A terrific bottling that remains young and has stellar aging potential. Showing superb focus, linear notes of crisp granny smith apples, lemon curd, Rainier cherry, and hints of pastry dough deliver a convincing onslaught of complexity. The palate is bright, fresh, and vibrant, showing ample acidity of depth of fruit. Needs more time in the cellar to develop and evolve but can be savored now. Just don’t serve it too cold. Drink 2024-2034+

EXTRA BRUT FROM MARGAINE January 2021

Margaine, Campagne, L’Extra Brut (RT91) Disgorged October 2019. Pale straw hue, this high energy, 100% Chardonnay was aged in 25% oak, the balance in stainless steel with 24 months on lees. The result is a racy, four square style the begs for food. Notes of lemon zest, green apple, chalk dust and quince lead to a high pitched, bright mouthfeel. 5900 bottles produced; this needs a few years to come together. Drink 2023-2030 (tasted 3/2021)

AMAZING 2020 HOLIDAY CELEBRATION December 2020

2004 Jean Milan, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs, Vielles Vignes, Terres de Noël (RT94) I bought a case of this beauty on release many years ago and this was far and above to most developed, enjoyable bottle to date. An elegant, pure expression of Chardonnay that has fleshed out beautifully since release and is now in early maturity. Notes of white peach, a touch of smoke, almond, lemon curd and pear. The mouthfeel is linear and focused, but still holding back a bit for future development. Impressive purity of fruit! Drink now-2034+

2006 Billecarte-Salmon, Brut, Cuvée Nicolas Francois (RT96+) Amazingly pure, precise, and focused, the 2006 Cuvée Nicolas Francois is a complete prize showing the structure this bottling can achieve. Crisp green apple, white stone fruit, vivid fresh straw, white flowers, and hints of crushed limestone fill the glass. The palate is almost weightless and incredibly captivating with brilliant acidity. This will develop for many years to come and is one for the cellar. Drink 2024-2040+

CHRISTMAS EVE 2020 December 24, 2020

2002 Gaston Chiquet, Brut, Special Club (RT94) Disgorged in 2011 and now at maturity. A blend of 70% Dizy sourced Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir sourced from Ay and Hautvillers. Showing a deep golden hue with tiny bubbles, this gem delivers a rich ripe notes of yellow stone fruits, golden ripe apple, dried apricot, and wet gravel. With time in the glass a marked nuttiness comes through. The palate is seductive with a soft, decadent fullness, beautiful acidity, and a smack of brioche. Gorgeous and utterly delicious! Drink now-2030

KRUG, SAY NO MORE! November 2020

NV Krug, Grande Cuvèe, 164ème Edition (RT96+) Opened to celebrate a changing of the guard in Washington DC, this magical bottle o’ bubbles did not disappoint, but needs lots of cellar time to flesh out and evolve to a point where it’s showing the mature, collective ambiance of this great wine. As it is now, it reveals laser precision with notes of angular green apple, lemon pith, hints of almond, layers of chalky minerality and faint notes of biscuit. The palate is grandly finite, showing all the precision of world class champagne with near perfect balance. Everything is in perfect harmony. I have little doubt this will evolve and improve for those who are patient. Drink 2028-2040+

SEPTEMBER 2020

NV Robert Moncuit, Brut, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs, Le Mesnil-Sur Ogier (RT93) I’ve been flattered to have had this top value bottling nearly a dozen times in the past few years, it is one of my house bubbles and for good reason! Dollar for dollar it simply overdelivers routinely. Crafted with grapes from the villages of Mesnil and Oger, it is a blend of 80% of it base vintage and 20% reserve wine from the preceding vintage. Vinified in a combination of stainless and neutral oak, which is designed to preserve the minerality. Dosage is 5 grams/liter. Followed over the course of two days, this pale deep golden honey hued champagne showed notes of brioche and earthy terroir over laying a core of crisp golden apples, under ripe Asian pears and white peaches with accents of chalky minerality. Clean, elegant and sumptuous on the palate with round ripe fruit and zippy acidity keeps you coming back to your glass for another sip! Delicious stuff, this is a superb value for NV Grand Cru bubbles! Just don’t serve it to cold. Drink now-2030+

JUNE 2019

Dinner this evening at Longmont, Colorado’s stellar Bin 46 in historic downtown, where Candy Campbell and her talented team are lighting a fire on fine cuisine, complimented by their extraordinary wine list. Paired with a dozen incredibly fresh Kumamoto oysters – half of them topped with caviar – they worked perfectly with this fabulously fine bottle of bubbles as it glittered into the warm summer evening!

1998 Charles de Cazanove, Champagne Brut, Stradivarius (RT 94) As this wonderful champagne has reached 20 years of age, my last bottle of Stradivarius reached its apogee. Revealing a lush round deep golden hue, the bubbles are fine and gentle in their trajectory. Notes of brioche, ripe yellow stone fruits, golden raisin and dried apricot emerge. With time in the glass delicate hints of almond and chalk dust add complexity. The mouthfeel is divine, showing soft delectable fruit and generous acidity. Everything is singing tonight for this delicious champagne! Drink now-2024+ Highly recommended.

MAY 2019

2002 Pierre Peters, Champagne Cuvée Spéciale Blanc des Blancs, Brut, Grand Cru, Les Chétillons (RT 95) It’s been a number of years since I pulled the cork on this fabulous wine, and tonight it lived up to expectations. With fruit coming exclusively from the legendary Les Mesnil cru, it shows a deeper, richer side of Champagne. The hue remains relatively light, but the bouquet reveals hints of lemon, yellow stone fruits, chamomile and brioche, with punctuation notes of hazelnut and almond rounding things out. The palate is rich, luxurious and harmonious with excellent bright acidity that provides the level of verve and laser focus this Tête de Cuvée is known for. Drink now-2032+

APRIL 2019 – LOIRE VALLEY SPARKLING WINE AT IT FINEST

2002 Huet, Vouvray, Petillant Reserve (RT 93) Now in its mid-teens, this bottle showed exceptionally well, revealing its Loire Valley origins with commanding limestone minerality and focused acidity. The bouquet reveals classic Chenin Blanc notes of green apple, quince and green fig, but with time in the glass notes of hazelnut and earth emerge. The palate is fresh and packed with zippy energy as it opens in the glass, the finish punctuated with a crisp, lifted twang! I’m a huge fan of this wine because it offers the classicism of Champagne at a significantly lower price point. Drink now – 2027+ Market price for current vintages range from mid-$20s to mid $30s. Keep in mind the Reserve is a special bottling not produced in every vintage, but the normale’ is quite a fabulous value. Price for the most recent Reserve – 2009 – is high $30s to mid-40s.