Had Some Champagne

Yesterday, a handful of Binny’s wine geeks were hosted for lunch and some Champagne. The venue was fancy, and the wine list was unbelievable. To fit in, I dressed as much like a lovable, turn-of-the-century hobo as I could, sort of a step up for me. We had a delicious lunch, but I found it difficult to pay attention to the food because of the wine.

When I walked in the room, somebody handed me a glass of bubbly. It was fine. A little toast, light green apple fruit, acidity, a tiny bit of residual sugar. What else could you want? The hint of sugar made me guess it was domestic, until somebody revealed it as Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. Not a bad start. The rest went like this:

 

 

First Flight: M&C, Ruinart

 

2003 Moet et Chandon Grand Vintage

Toasty nose with plenty of limestone. Cool. Some baking spice on the palate marzipan? Tropical fruit to round it out, apricots and dried pineapple.

 

2002 Moet et Chandon Grand Vintage Rose

Also toasty on the nose. At this point I’m expecting it to be a theme today. Also a note of strawberry candy. The rose is broad and weighty on the palate, with lower acidity that allows the plush fruit to push across. (Interesting note: the oddball 2003 vintage reached maturity ahead of the 2002, so it was released before the 2002.)

 

Ruinart Rose

Lighter on the nose, and more fresh and perfumed. Orange blossom. Very plush and fruity on the palate with even lower acidity than the M&C rose. For a multivintage Champagne, this is very fresh.

 

1998 Dom Ruinart

Super toasted, yeasty, nutty on the nose. There’s this wonderfully broad texture and, while quite dry, shows dessert notes like burnt creme brulee and waffle cone. Caramel, vanilla, baked apples. This stuff … this pushes the right buttons. This is a contender for favorite of the day, and at $135, might be one of the better values. If you like Champagne, try this.

 

1996 Dom Ruinart Rose

Orange citrus and cream on the nose. This one is a thinker the primary fruit has faded so that the whole thing is round and seamless without any exclamation point. But then there’s the texture, it has a lot of spine. It’s interesting, but seems overshadowed by some of the more forward and obvious samples.

 

Second Flight: Veuve, Dom P.

 

2002 Veuve Clicquot

(Forgive me if I repeat myself; there are common themes here.) Caramel, vanilla on the nose. Fruit like tart apples and underripe apricot, with some acidity. What it should be.

 

2004 Veuve Clicquot Rose

Interesting nose that, if I didn’t know better, I would not guess as a pink wine. The nose has hints of honey and cinnamon, and maybe promises more than the mellow, berry on the palate. Maybe this young wine will gain complexity with age.

 

1998 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame

Smells absolutely like candy. Complex citrus I dunno tangerine? The distinctive nose hints at great breadth. Take the time to really smell this wine. The fruit on the palate reminds me of a bigger version of the 2002 Veuve apples and other white fruit, plus framed well in acidity.

 

2002 Dom Perignon

Quiet nose. This is how I remember Dom from the handful of times I’ve tried it, from the last several vintages: refined, not overblown. Woody, toasty, creamy, well-rounded wine with low fruit and lots of yeasty notes. They promise it will unwind with time, and I’ve never had the chance to taste it old.

 

1996 Dom Perignon Oenotheque

The biggest difference between the Oenotheque and vintage Dom Perignon is a lot more time on the lees. It shows. Also, they didn’t scrimp on the wood. This is massive, broad, amped up Dom Perignon. Maybe the most exaggerated bubbly on the table today, and maybe my favorite.

 

2000 Dom Perignon Rose

Less intense than the Oenotheque for sure, and even the 2002 Dom Perignon. Something of a conundrum: this falls into Dom’s trademark bready, woody, broad style, which isn’t usually the profile I’m looking for in a rose.

 

Third Flight: Krug

 

1998 Krug

On the nose: toast and vanilla, of course, and also … lime? The fruit broadens on the palate. It’s like dried pineapple and brown sugar and honey. Plus there’s tons of focused acidity, so despite the broad fruit, it stays monolithic. Outstanding.

 

Krug Grande Cuvee

A little less bread on the nose than the vintage Krug, but just as big. Huge creamy flavors and textures, more cream than spice. If given the choice between two bottles of the Grande Cuvee or one of the vintage, I’d have to go with the two. This is fantastic.

 

Krug Rose

The dessert sat on the table in front of me as I nosed the Krug Rose: cherry clafoutis tart, vanilla creme fraiche. What? Before I saw it, I didn’t know what that was, but that’s how I’d describe the nose on the Krug Rose, exactly. Strawberries and cream on the palate, and of course toast and baking spices. So amazing.

 

 

But Wait, There’s More

As a surprise, they opened a bottle of 1992 Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Collection (I think it’s a recently disgorged release) And that was fine, just fine. So that was that. I find events like this a little embarassing, a little over the top. The wines speak for themselves, and being presented with so much high-end bubbles all at once is a little overwhelming. Overall, it gets a thumbs up.

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