Updated: Jan 4, 2021
I am just going to set the scene, on what has become one of our most successful, and eagerly attended tastings of the year. This is an opportunity for the 16 Houses of the Champagne Academy to showcase a particular cuvee, that is possibly a tad out of the ordinary. It maybe a new vintage, or a new style, even possibly a different approach in wine making to the mainstream, or something that they feel has been long overlooked and needs a moment in the daylight.
This started in 2017, and was raised as a possible freshening up of our approach to tastings, at a Committee meeting, the imaginative suggestion of Past-Chairman Alice Archer and Committee Member Jade Koch.
The first tasting, in the Crypt of a Church, was a triumph, not only appreciated by our Academy Members and their guests, but also by the Champagne Houses, as a chance to show what they can achieve, outside of their main house style.
Champagne Bollinger PN VZ15
Whilst at first glance this looks like it could be a vaccine answer to today’s troubles, it is in fact the first wine in a new series that will be released every year, always with a focus on one of Bollinger’s Pinot Noir crus, or villages.
A 100% Pinot Noir, the VZ indicates Verzenay, a Grand Cru Village in the Grande Montagne de Reims which makes up 50% of the blend with the balance from Aÿ, Bouzy and Tauxières. This blend comprises 80% from the 2015 vintage, and the balance coming from Bollinger’s Reserve wines of 2009 and 2010. Over 50% of the wine was vinified in oak barrels.
The dosage is 7 g/l and the wine has been aged on its lees for 3.5 years, enjoy this lovely wine now, or you can hang on until 2030.
Tasting Note: The nose is expressive, with Pinot Noir elements prominent, spices, ripe apples and hints of brioche expand through to the palate. A rich palate comes from the expressive reserve wines aged in Bollinger magnums. The wine takes you back to the Bollinger routes in Pinot Noir and this exciting first release really shows off the Verzenay fruits. (The Finest Bubble)
I am yet to taste this wine, but I have a bottle waiting at the Club, which I look forward to imbibing, in the distant uplands of being able to enjoy the company of the few friends that I have, that are not in prison.
Charles Heidseick - Blanc De Blanc NV
I am a great fan of Champagne Blanc de Blancs cuvees, I find their particular style of freshness and acidity, balanced with the generosity of the fruit to be compelling, especially if fortunate to be drinking an older example that starts to explore its hidden depths.
Charles Heidsieck was one of the very first Champagne Houses to demonstrate its passion for Chardonnay, by producing a Blanc de Blancs in its 1949 vintage. There are also some accounts relating the existence of mono-crus from the Côte des Blancs being produced by Charles Heidsieck in 1906. The Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs, was relaunched in 2018.
The Chardonnay Vineyards are 100% Grand & Premier Cru Côte des Blancs (Oger, Vertus) Montagne de Reims (Marmery, Trépail, Vaudemange) & Aube (Montgueux). The base vintage used was 2012, with 20% of reserve wines too. It was aged foe 4 years on its lees, and has a dosage of 10g/l.
Tasting Note: the aromas of ripe Chardonnay escape: vine peach, candied citrus fruits, with some notes of lime blossom, honeysuckle, fresh hazelnuts. A second nose bears on subtle notes of mandarin and lemon.
On the mouth: freshness and tension are coated in this generosity typically Charles: the attack is frank, pure, without aggressiveness with an almost atypical smoothness for a Blanc de Blancs that is often defined as more angular than creamy. The balanced finish surprises with its minerality and its salty side. (Charles Heidsieck)
I have tried this wine, and I would open it at least 45 minutes before serving, it does need a bit of time to broaden out, a delight for the patient!
Veuve Clicquot - Extra Brut Extra Old NV
This wine has everything that the British market should enjoy, a blend of eight Reserve wines to make a complex and luscious style of Champagne, that is Pinot Noir dominant.
In 2013, the Cellar Master created a unique blend composed exclusively from their reserve wines, in order to express the quintessence of Yellow Label and paying tribute to Madame Clicquot and her innovative and visionary process. Thus, was born the Extra Brut Extra Old cuvée, a particularly singular champagne. In 2019, the House reveals the second blend of the collection, Extra Brut Extra Old 2, a new blend testifying to the historical savoir-faire of the House.
The grape varieties used are 45% Pinot Noir, 28% Meunier and 27% Chardonnay. The blend of years from the Reserve wines are 1990, 1998, 1999, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2012. All the Reserve wines blended have been aged for a minimum of three years on the lees, in vats. To extend the ageing further, Extra Brut Extra Old NV spends another three years maturing after bottling and another year in the cellars post-disgorgement. The dosage is 3 g/l.
Tasting Note: An intense golden colour in the glass with a fine stream of tightly knit beads. Initial notes on the nose are rich and intense: ripe fruits and citrus. Powerful on the palate but balanced and smooth. Full of citrus with hints of apples and toastiness. A well-balanced minerality through the long-lasting finish. Exceptional. This has the characteristics to supplement a meal but due to the freshness could be served as an apéritif. (The Finest Bubble)
This is a real difference to the norm, and takes the blending of Reserve wines to another level
Heidseick & Monopole
Heidseick & Monopole Premier Cru NV
This version from the House differs from the blue top by being 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay.
Tasting Notes Straw yellow appearance with golden highlights. A generous nose with complex, concentrated fruits. Full on the palate with ripe fruits and a soft, lingering finish.
Krug Rose 23rd Edition
Well, a wonderful opportunity to re-acquaint yourself with a wine that I rarely have the opportunity to drink, so really impressed to be able to sample this wondrous and complicated wine. I last tried the 21st edition, but would expect nothing less from this House.
This particular Krug Rosé is a blend of 60 wines from 10 different years, the youngest of which is from 2011, while the oldest dates back to 2000. It was completed with 13% traditionally macerated Pinot Noir from a special plot in Ay to add spiciness, colour and structure. Its final composition is 45% Chardonnay, 29% Pinot Noir and 26% Meunier. It has at least seven years in Krug’s cellars. Reserve wines make up 56% of the final blend.