Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Champagne tasting; ”Latour”

After having returned from Champagne about a week ago - one should think that I have had enough bubbly stuff in my system. But NO - 1st of May, I had my farewell Champagne tasting for the "Latour" wine group.

Despite the fact, that a Champagne tasting can always get me excited, I also had some pre-anxious fears. How would the new producers present themselves? Would only one glass be remotely enough to show some personality, from such young wines I was about to present? Would the classic Champagnes have the last laugh?

I don't think the latter was the case, even if Champagne tastings can be rather difficult to base conclusions from. So please take my observations more like a snapshot of only one glass.

Most of the wines were opened 20-30 minutes before serving and for some wines I recommended the tasters to use white wine glasses, instead of classic tight flutes.

Personally I tasted from Spiegelau Adina "White Wine", Zalto and Juhlin.


2004 David Léclapart "Amateur"

2004 David Léclapart "Artiste"

2002 Jacques Lassaigne

2003 David Léclapart " l`Apôtre"

1999 Deutz "Cuvée William Deutz Rosé"

NV Jacques Selosse "Rosé"

1999 Dom Perignon

1999 Bollinger La Grande Annee

2005 Vouette et Sorbée "Blanc d'Argile"

NV Jacques Selosse " Version Originale"

1997 Vilmart " Coeur de Cuvée " (Magnum)

2006 Jérôme Prévost " La Closerie"

2002 Michel Arnould "Mémoire de Vignes "

1979 Louis Roederer " Vintage" Magnum

Joker : 1996 Billecart-Salmon "Blanc de Blanc "

2004 Amateur was exceptional good - showing this 2004 linearity, which I am seriously a sucker for. Otherwise I sensed some smoke and in general a very vibrant, slim, high acidity and alive wine. 2004 Artiste was however rather shy in comparison. I was fairly alright with its taste, where it showed potential. One glass seemed not enough for this wine and I would have to advise 3-5 years of cellaring, if to conclude something. Overall, standing side by side - Amateur took the last straw this night. A good start I think - these wines were picked to show purity and tickle the taste buds.

Next flight I wanted to show some more depth, but still hold the purity from flight 1. I was a little surprised about 2002 Jacques Lassaigne. More expressive on the exotic - almost sweet and delicate fruits it had. There is a fraction of classic autolysis notes here also. The worst "problem" for Lassaigne was however it's flight rival - 2003 " l`Apôtre". Readers of this blog, should already by now know, that I am a big fan of this wine - and this night it was singing. Incredible stuff - lots of complex layers and a fresh, lush and majestic profile. By far the best Champagne so far.

Next - the Rosé Champagnes, where I deliberately wanted to show two very different styles. The 1999 Deutz was really good - but way too young. Some tasters found it overly shy, but I have to say, that this tight red berry perfumes, iron, iodine is filled with class and elegancy. The taste has so much potential to offer - so it's just a matter of cellaring (5-7 years).

I keep on tasting Selosse's Rosé, even though it's not a favorite of mine. I am not sure, if this disgorgement was with a lower dosage than normal, but it was definitely one of the better I have had. The wine is still teddy-bear soft, with its pronounced oak, strawberry and sweet biscuit perfumes. Elegance is not a term I would use here - and you can for sure discuss if it's a complex Champagne or not. Oh well - some liked it - some not, I am probably in the middle, where I can easily see myself enjoying a couple of glasses with appropriate food, but I can also see the monotonous evening ahead of drinking a whole bottle of this stuff.

So now we headed for two very classic Champages. I have suggested cellaring for the 1999 Bollinger GA - so why did I pick it? To match the 1999 vintage of Dom Perignon. But it's the wine I remember the least from the evening - so please cellar now, Thomas!!! 1999 Dom Perignon - now this is interesting. I had predicted two outcomes. People would swarm like little bees and praised it classic big-house Cuvée Prestige vintage appeal - but no. I think most of them, took the other path, where the so far rather pure and vinous wines had made their impression. Personally I was shocked about the level of sulfur in this wine. Now sulfur is not a note, which doesn't necessarily turn me off - but here it was off the charts. Otherwise it's so toasted, giving way too much vanilla and taking away overall clarity. What happens here, is that the wine falls short of showing energy - it's simply doesn't possess the vibrant life of some of the Champagnes we tasted this evening and for me the "product" is almost dead. The best part about Dom Perignon is its mousse, which I find rather mouth coating - but overall, it still fells so soulless. I know that the easiest thing to say about a huge big house production cuvée Prestige - but that's exactly how I fell. So I will, with several others around the table - have to mark it as dull, disappointing and a monotone Champagne.

I wished I had given the 2005 Vouette et Sorbée "Blanc d'Argile", more time to open - easy to say afterwards. This night it simple didn't perform as I had wished. It seemed molded in flavors and never really defined itself. In the other glass - we had a real darling - NV Jacques Selosse " Version Originale". Juicy green apples, with baby banana, seriously bio-driven and pure - adorable stuff and the best bottle I have ever had of this wine.

Talk about a reserved wine - 1997 Vilmart " Coeur de Cuvée " (Magnum). What a shame - had I known it to perform like this with a turbot soup, I would have picked an older vintage. Citrus and hay - was what I sensed....ahhh...bummer. I had the chance to taste it on day two - where I was home alone with remaining chesses from the day before. Still tight tight tight, but some butter coming out in the citrus fruit core - but very linear and high acidity stuff, which should prove well for cellaring.

I decided to pour a joker wine, which I already had ready - 1996 Billecart-Salmon "Blanc de Blanc". Off course very young, but already with a lovely flowery spectrum, some butter and dead Billecart-Salmon classy and elegant. Both nose and taste had this insane 1996 electric appeal and acidity. I look forward to taste my remaining bottles in - let's say 10 years time.

With Italian Cannelloni I presented two respectively 100% Pinot Meunier and 100% Pinot Noir Champagnes. I find Jérôme Prévost very interesting. It's Champagne of mysteriousness, great personality and with enormous potential. The 2006 is a humble masterpiece - with a refined spicy expression, but still showing the most delicate Pinot Meunier style I have ever come across.

It's the first time I taste the 2002 Michel Arnould "Mémoire de Vignes ". The wine fell a little short compared to Prévost, but still I found it rather interesting, with delicate notes of red currant. Both wines did exceptional well with the Cannelloni, in my humble opinion.

The tasting was starting to come to an end. Donated by my good friend, Claus Holst - a rather rare bottle came to the table. 1979 Louis Roederer " Vintage" Magnum. Claus had bought this bottle on auction in France and the risk in always the condition. Oh yes.....it was perfect and perfect means a super rich, fresh and exotic nose of mango and coffee beans. Exceptional complex stuff - and perfect with the cheese.

So - a very memorable tasting comes to an end. Thanks to all the "Latour" boys, for the gifts and for being so open minded towards unknown Champagne territory.

There are more pictures here - and thank you Carlo, for shooting some pictures also.


Ps. I had written all the disgorgement dates down - but I can't find them now. On the NV stuff - I recall disgorgement dates around the autum of 2007 and in general rather fresh releases

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