It is always a real hoot & actually quite the learning experience when you get a bunch of real wine fanatics together to do a themed wine tasting. Well….last night was the night….at VINO….& Champagne was the theme.
Everyone graciously brought a bottle or two to share & the tasting was quite comprehensive that’s for sure.
We first did a tasting of 3 Blanc de Blancs just to set the mood.
The Varnier Fanniere NV set the toned. Based in Avize, this 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay was incredibly lively, full of finesse, pedigree with terrific balance & lots of vibrant minerality. The Veuve Fourny is located in Vertus, just south of the Cote de Blancs What an absolutely lovely Premier Cru Champagne with a captivating mouthfeel, which must be from extended lees contact & stirring. I would certainly buy another bottle! Batting last in this formidable line-up was the Jacques Selosse “Initial”, a very striking, wild yeast fermented, low dosage aristocrat, produced from Avize, Cramant & Oger (Grand Cru) grapes.
After these bottles there was a flurry of bottles popping & of course in no particular order…..but here is how I remember it.
The J. Lasalle “Angeline” is 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay from their estate vineyard in Chigny-les-Roses. The wine is aged on the lees for at least 5 years, which is so surprising, considering how refined, & truly finesseful it really is. Quite impressive to say the least. Pierre Peters is also a real favorite of ours. Their grapes come from Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Cramant & Avize (all Grand Cru) & their resulting wines are absolutely riveting, full of life & vigor, pure & scintillating. The Varnier Fanniere Brut Rose is 90% Chardonnay with 10% still Pinot Noir added, all Grand Cru. We found the wine to have a surprisingly lively, charming personality.
The Philipponnat Brut Rose “Reserve” was a very pretty, refined, refreshing break from all of the previous cerebral wines in the line-up. It is a style you can drink easily & often.
The Gonet Medeville Brut “Tradition” is 70% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir & 5% Pinot Meunier from their various vineyards in Bisseuil, Trepail, Mareuil-sur Ay & Les Mesnil sur Oger.
VINO regulars well know that the J Lasalle Brut Rose is my wife’s favorite Champagne because of its sheer finesse, divine pedigree, amazing ethereal-ness & its tiny, delicate bubbles. The Paul Bara Brut “Reserve” is another favorite “grower” Champagne of ours. The grapes come from Bouzy, 80% Pinot Noir & 20% Chardonnay & epitomizes what a Grand Cru, “grower” Champagne should be about….class & pedigree without foo-foo-ness……amazing depth, layering & great texture. Well worth seeking out!
The final wine of the night (at least that I know of….Jose Dhondt (but I do) NV….produced from 15 Grand Cru acres in Oger, resulting in intensely stony, minerally Blanc de Blancs.
Interestingly, the day before we were able to taste another standout Champagne–
….from Vilmart….80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir from Rilly & Villers-Allerand, barrel fermented in Burgundian barriques & then aged in large oak & barriques. It is also quite the showstopper!