(Images are clickable and will open a larger format)Day & night
It has been almost two 2½ years ago since I tasted the 2002 Fleur de Passion from Diebolt-Vallois. I tasted it among 28 other Champagnes and found it on one side intense, but also marked by a troublesome aroma of sulphur.
Since then – as you might have noticed, I have been exposed to a decent amount of natural wine and there is no doubt that my threshold for sulphur has decreased dramatically.
Inspired by a new article by Peter Liem (Champagneguide.net) on Fleur de Passion I was intrigued and fascinated reading about the great terroir of Cremant and Côte des Blancs. No doubt the Fleur de Passion is raised from some of the finest parcels in all of Champagne.
I even remember how charming and friendly Jacques Diebolt and his daughter Isabella were when I met them in Copenhagen at the “29 Champagne-tasting”.
With all these variables lined up and well knowing that the ‘02s are in general quite closed (still) I decided to taste the 2002 Fleur de Passion.
The opening reveals a wine that is really young. Marked by a lot of citrus fruits, sharp edges and even some herbal character. Yet there is one thing that hangs like a big dark cloud over the wine - preventing any kind of sunshine to come through. It’s sulphur – sadly, and it’s killing the wines energy, clarity and my personal appeal for it. We are not on the revolting level of Dom Perignon or Comtes de Champagne from Taittinger, but it’s still enough to lower my appetite considerably. On the palate it’s even worse, as flavours of matchsticks glues to the back palate, sealing the door for any complexity, life or clarity to come forward. I simply couldn’t drink it and rested it for the next day. No improvement. Did the same on day 3,4 and 5 and it was a fraction better @ day 5.
In order to sort of see if I was just sulphur hysterical or the note could be something different I decided to open a bottle from a producer, which I know hates sulphur; David Léclapart. 2008 “L’Amateur” was now in another glass and it was like day and night comparing the two. “L’Amateur” had everything I was looking for – crystal clear ripe fruit, sleek, tons of inner energy and divine drinking pleasure. “Fleur de Passion” felt like a potential headache in comparison.
There are no doubt the 2002 Fleur de Passion is way too young and could unveil a far more nuanced wine in a decade or two. Here and now it’s a huge disappointment and I am not holding on to my remaining bottles, as the level of sulphur are not acceptable.