2010 Masters of Wine Champagne Tasting

San Francisco, CA
Tasted Monday, September 27, 2010 by BrandrB with 530 views

Introduction

The 2010 Institute of Masters of Wine Champagne Tasting proved to be another incredible event! My second year attending this tasting, it was again held in San Francisco’s Ferry Building overlooking the Bay Bridge on a beautiful early Fall afternoon. In addition to a phenomenal lineup of wine, the tasting also afforded the opportunity to meet many other Champagne aficionados, including some fellow CellarTrackers.

This year’s tasting featured roughly 80 Champagnes divided into five categories (Blanc des Blancs, Non Vintage, Vintage, Rosé, and Dosé). Of those wines, I was able to taste more than 60 and write 42 detailed tasting notes. Compared with last year’s event, the quantity of wines was slightly less but the quality was higher judging by my tasting scores – with a remarkable 8 Champagnes scoring 94 points or higher by my tastes.

My wines of the night included the 1995 Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires (96pts), 1995 Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs (95pts), and the non-vintage Krug Rosé (95pts). Among the best values of the evening’s tasting included the non-vintage Vilmart Grand Cellier, 1999 Charles Ellner Brut Seduction Millésimé, non-vintage Henri Billiot Brut Reserve, and the non-vintage Alfred Gratien Brut Rosé.

Many thanks again to the Institute of Masters of Wine for organizing such a phenomenal event – which truly is one of the finest Champagne tastings around.

image

Flight 1 - Blanc des Blancs (8 Notes)

  • 1995 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Blanc des Millénaires 96 Points

    France, Champagne

    Exquisite – my wine of the night and one of the finest Champagnes I’ve ever experienced! Light golden color with tiny bubbles. Beautiful big yeasty nose with aromas of biscuit interlaced with citrus – imagine a fresh baked lemon spice scone. Full-bodied creamy palate: lemon, biscuit, roasted nuts. Great creamy, doughy mouthfeel with a fine mousse. Very long finish only serves to highlight this wine’s near perfect balance of elegance and power. I notice the price has increased a bit over the last year, but it still offers a tremendous bargain for what it delivers in my opinion. My best experience yet with this wine – simply exceptional in all regards!

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 1999 Lanson Champagne Noble Cuvée Blanc de Blancs 91 Points

    France, Champagne

    Pale straw color. Small bubbles. Light nose of apple, asian pear, and subtle floral notes. Along much of the same lines for the light-bodied palate: apple, sweet pear, lemon, and light mineral flavors. Very nice, elegant, medium-length finish. Much improvement since my last tasting, but it’s hard to say whether it’s genuine maturation or simply bottle variation.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne Mumm de Cramant 89 Points

    France, Champagne, Cramant, Champagne

    Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs. Previously, Mumm’s “Crémant de Cramant.” Medium yellow color. Yeasty lemon citrus nose. Medium-bodied palate shows apple and lemon citrus with a slight nuttiness. Medium length finish. Great airy mouthfeel that’s simultaneously gentle and nuanced. Excellent!

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Pierre Péters Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvée de Réserve 89 Points

    France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne

    Pale yellow color. Tart apple nose with a moderate toastiness. Medium-full bodied creamy palate of apple, citrus, toast, and mineral. Medium-long finish. Great QPR from this underappreciated house in the heart of the Cote des Blancs.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 1999 Pol Roger Champagne Blanc de Blancs 93 Points

    France, Champagne

    Light straw color. Beautiful full nose: lemon citrus primarily, but layered with aromas of apple, toast, and even a little nutmeg. Full-bodied palate: lemon citrus throughout, with apple, vanilla, and toast all weaving in and out on the mid-palate. Nice fine mousse. Long finish. Quite elegant throughout with fantastic balance. Superb!

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Ruinart Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut 90 Points

    France, Champagne

    Superb! Light yellow color. Lemon, minerals, and toast dominate the nose. Medium-full body with apple, nuts, and doughy flavors. Very nicely balanced acidity. Solid, dry, medium-long finish. Ruinart’s entry-level Blanc de Blancs remains one of my favorite non-vintage Champagnes.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 1998 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 93 Points

    France, Champagne

    Wow! Rich, toasty, citrus, minerals, nuts – this is everything I want executed exactly how I want it in a vintage Blanc de Blancs. Light golden color. Fresh medium nose of apple, spice, nuts and oak. Rich medium-full bodied with apple, citrus, minerals, and bread. The ensemble is harmoniously complimented by a supporting minerality and acidity. Big bodied but with excellent depth and substance – this doesn’t simply overwhelm but every element here seems to be working in a coordinated effort. Long finish. Noticeable improvement since last year, but still with room to grow a little further I think. Exceptional!

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Soutiran Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru 89 Points

    France, Champagne

    Light yellow color. Beautiful apple, lime citrus, and light yeast on the nose. Medium-full bodied palate: apple, mineral, toast, and a hint of hazelnut. Medium long finish. Very nice structure throughout.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

Flight 2 - Non-Vintage (10 Notes)

  • NV Ayala Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage 86 Points

    France, Champagne

    Pale straw color. Medium nose: apple with a little bit of barnyard funk going on in the background. Medium bodied palate: tart pear and significant minerality. Quite dry, as to be expected. Medium length finish. I cannot pinpoint it – and I don’t think it’s the lack of dosage – but time and again this Champagne fails to really win me over. That being said, there’s still lots to enjoy here. Very good, overall.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Edmond Barnaut Champagne Grande Réserve Brut Grand Cru 87 Points

    France, Champagne, Bouzy, Champagne

    Light straw color. Light nose showing peach and yeast. Medium bodied tart peach palate alongside a light minerality with a fairly strong acidic backbone. Medium length finish. Good QPR for non-vintage Champagne, though slightly rough around the edges. This was my first experience with the House of Edmond Barnaut, and it proved to be a very enjoyable experience.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV H. Billiot Fils Champagne Grand Cru Brut Réserve 91 Points

    France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne

    The big, self-assured Billiot style rarely disappoints, and this example is no exception. Light golden color. Fantastic bead. Expressive biscuity nose of apple and caramel. Medium-full bodied palate: apple, mineral, toast, and a touch of fresh roasted coffee. Medium-long finish. Excellent – but I think you have to appreciate this style and I’m not convinced it’s for everyone.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Henri Goutorbe Champagne Cuvée Prestige 87 Points

    France, Champagne, Aÿ, Champagne

    Light yellow color. Slightly astringent nose provides apple and yeasty aromas. Medium bodied palate features apple, spice, and a bit of indistinguishable red berry flavors. Pronounced Pinot character throughout. Nice medium-long finish.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Alfred Gratien Champagne Cuvée Paradis 91 Points

    France, Champagne

    2008 disgorgement. Light golden color. Rich heady nose: fresh roasted nuts and citrus aromas. Full-bodied citrus-dominated palate full of lemon, apple, nuts, spice, and toasty oak. Medium-long finish. Showing great maturity being so young. While I truly love this Champagne, I still maintain that Alfred Gratien’s Brut Classique is nearly as good – particularly with a bit of age – for a fraction of the price. Nonetheless, their Cuvée Paradis is an exceptional Champagne for those who enjoy this style and this non-vintage tete-de-cuvee exemplifies why Alfred Gratien remains one of my favorite houses.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Marc Hébrart Champagne Sélection Brut Premier Cru 88 Points

    France, Champagne

    Light straw color. Expressive nose of apple and mineral. Medium-full bodied, fruit-forward palate of apple with a mineral-citrus limestone backbone. Medium-long chalky finish. Very nice overall.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée 94 Points

    France, Champagne

    Medium golden color. Beautiful heady nutty biscuity nose. Full bodied palate features lemon, spiced apple, almond, and toasty oak flavors. Excellent long finish. An incredibly strong showing for this bottle of non-vintage Krug tonight – the finest I’ve had in the past five years and drinking nearly as well as the 1998 vintage Krug.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Jean Lallement Champagne Cuvée Réserve 88 Points

    France, Champagne, Verzenay, Champagne

    Medium yellow color. Rich nose shows apple, biscuit, spice, and mineral. Medium-full bodied palate: lemon, apple, mineral, and a light nuttiness. Medium length mineral finish, which I wish was just a bit longer. Very nice complexity – both the layered flavors and the seemingly restrained power – for a non-vintage Champagne.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Pehu Simonet Champagne Brut Selection Grand Cru 86 Points

    France, Champagne, Verzenay, Champagne

    Medium yellow color. Apple and red berries on the nose. Incredibly tart apple flavors overwhelm the palate initially, followed with a substantial minerality. Almost like a liquefied version of some tart candy with a bit of stone mixed in. Medium length crisp finish. The fruit here seems a touch too sharp which makes this Champagne, overall, seem just slightly out of balance.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Vilmart & Cie Champagne Grand Cellier Brut 92 Points

    France, Champagne

    Superb! Straw-yellow color. Rich nose: apple, dried flowers, and toasty oak aroma. Full-bodied palate: apple, spice, and minerals on this, huge palate rounded out with buttery toasty oak. Long finish. I really enjoy this oaky style – but it might be a bit much for some. Fantastic – one of my favorite non-vintages of the evening and the best showing I’ve had yet of this incredible wine.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

Flight 3 - Vintage (12 Notes)

  • 2003 L. Aubry Fils Champagne Le Nombre d'Or Campanae Veteres Vites Brut 89 Points

    France, Champagne

    Light straw yellow color. Vigorous mousse. Apples dominate both the nose and palate with yeast and light spice in the background. Medium length finish. Very enjoyable.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 2000 Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année 92 Points

    France, Champagne

    Grand and Premier Cru blend. Medium yellow color. Apple and yeast nose. Medium-full bodied palate shows excellent depth: apple, mineral, and a light spiciness with great acidity and balance. Long finish. Drinking better than the 1999 at this point post-disgorgement and overall one of the better 2000s I’ve come across so far. Excellent!

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 1998 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut La Grande Dame 92 Points

    France, Champagne

    Light golden color. Rich nose: flowers, honey, lemon and toast. Medium-full bodied palate with apple and lemon flavors noticeably supported in the background by almonds and dough. The citrus backbone continues to surprise me considering the preponderance of Pinot Noir in the blend. Moderate mousse. Medium-long finish. 18 months since my last tasting and this vintage is still noticeably young – far too young to drink for now. I recommend waiting at least another 2-3 years before even thinking about opening this one.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 1999 Charles Ellner Champagne Brut "Seduction" Millésimé 91 Points

    France, Champagne

    Light golden color. Rich nose of apple, biscuit, toasted nuts, and candied ginger. Beautiful full-bodied yeasty mouthfeel with flavors of apple, lemon, toast, and nuts. Medium-long finish. Excellent QPR – a remarkable value for vintage Champagne. The under-the-radar – for me, at least – House of Charles Ellner continues to truly impress with their rich and heavy style. Ready to drink now.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 1995 Henriot Champagne Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut 95 Points

    France, Champagne

    Exceptional – mind blowing even! Rich golden color. Explosively full nose: brioche, lemon, smoky roasted nuts, and honey. Somehow, the nose manages to be elegant while fully open about the brute power that lies within this wine. Powerful rich and creamy mouthfeel with a full-bodied palate of lemon, vanilla, spice, almond, and rich toasty biscuit. Very long finish. Drinking much better than last year. A nice value, too, for vintage Champagne of this caliber. An incredible experience – one of the best Champagnes I’ve tasted all year!

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 1996 Henriot Champagne Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut 94 Points

    France, Champagne

    Golden color. Full nose: yeasty brioche, lemon, nuts. Full-bodied palate: lemon citrus backbone with pear, nuts, and a spicy backend. Long finish. Much the same as the 1995 Cuvee des Enchanteleurs, but a bit lighter. Right now I prefer the 1995, but in reality it’s far too early to really drink or compare these wines. Overall, I suspect the 1996 will surpass with even greater aging potential and should be remarkable given another decade of age. Again, an incredible value for vintage Champagne of this quality with all the makings of a classic wine.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 1998 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut 94 Points

    France, Champagne

    Light golden color. Rich and full Krug nose: biscuits, oak, and almond aromas leap from the glass. A very full bodied palate: apple, toasty oak. Incredible! Very long finish. Essentially, in my mind, a stronger and more concentrated varsity version of the non-vintage. Simply an incredible wine the terrific potential for development well into the long-term, and although this will never quite rise to the near flawless caliber of ’95 and ’96 Krug vintages, this is still an exquisite Champagne with much to admire.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 2003 Moët & Chandon Champagne Grand Vintage Brut Flawed

    France, Champagne

    Corked – moderate TCA.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 2000 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon 92 Points

    France, Champagne

    Straw-yellow color. Yeasty apple and mineral aromas. Medium bodied palate with apple, pear, lemon, mineral, and even a little mushroom. Impressive mousse. Beautiful long finish. A very elegant wine that feels a bit constrained at present. Definitely getting better, but also it’s definitely not yet where it needs to be for this prestigious label. I have difficulty seeing this ever comparing well with the 1990s-vintage Doms. Personally, I would think twice before purchasing this for either short term consumption or aging. That being said, it’s clearly evident this is a quality Champagne that I wouldn’t kick out of bed either if given a glass.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 2002 Perrier-Jouët Champagne Cuvée Fleur de Champagne 92 Points

    France, Champagne

    Very light golden color. Medium nose of apple and yeast. Light-to-medium bodied palate: apple, lemon, and mineral. Good acidic structure is evident. Medium length finish. A little simple for now – but what’s there definitely shows quality and character that should develop nicely. Worth keeping an eye on!

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 2000 Pol Roger Champagne Brut Vintage 94 Points

    France, Champagne

    Light golden color. Incredible nose: deep and powerful with yeasty toast and almond aromas. Full-bodied palate continues what began on the nose with rich flavors of apple, mineral, light spice, yeasty toast and roasted nuts. Powerful but refined with exquisitely balanced acidity. Long finish. Still plenty of time to mature, but this is drinking surprisingly well right now for such youth. The best I’ve had from Pol Roger – simply fantastic!

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 2000 Jacquesson & Fils Champagne Millésimé 89 Points

    France, Champagne

    Straw yellow color. Nice full apple nose. Medium bodied fruity apple palate with a little bit of supporting biscuit and mineral notes. Nice medium-long finish. The preponderance of apple here – on both the nose and palate – make this somewhat one-dimensional and a bit disappointing for a Grand Cru Champagne. I have difficult seeing much – if any – potential here. While nice and certainly enjoyable, this vintage Champagne is a definite pass for me.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

Flight 4 - Rosé (8 Notes)

  • NV Bollinger Champagne Brut Rosé 91 Points

    France, Champagne

    Light orange-copper color. Medium nose with aromas of ripe red berries and spice in a definite “Bolly” style. Rich and creamy medium-bodied palate with strawberries, toast, and light spice. Long finish. The price is a bit higher than I would like, but nonetheless this is an excellent non-vintage rosé.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Alfred Gratien Champagne Brut Rosé 91 Points

    France, Champagne

    Light copper color. Light fruity nose shows fresh strawberries and yeast. Medium-bodied palate: strawberries and biscuit. Beautiful mouthfeel with an incredibly light and airy mousse – almost in a cremant style. Medium length finish. Once again, the quality of Alfred Gratien’s entry-level wines amazes – similar to their regular Brut, this is drinking nearly as well as their Cuvée Paradis Rosé for a fraction of the price. Great QPR! Highly recommended!

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Krug Champagne Brut Rosé 95 Points

    France, Champagne

    My first experience with Krug’s rosé. Very light copper color. Rich full heady Krug nose: yeasty with aromas of oak and a medley of sweet orchard fruits. Intense full-bodied palate: fresh strawberries, spice, and light coffee notes all surrounded by a light smoky minerality. Great acidity and a very fine mousse. Incredibly long finish. Terrific complexity. Quite possibly the finest rosé Champagne I’ve ever tasted. In one word: astounding.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 2000 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rosé 94 Points

    France, Champagne

    Exceptional. Medium-light pink color. Aromas of orange zest, dried cherries, minerals and a light floral element on the expressive nose. Insanely yeasty – one of the yeastiest wines I’ve ever tasted. Full bodied palate of dried cherries, minerals, and light smoky oak. Medium-long finish. My first Dom Perignon rosé – so I’m not sure if this remarkable style is the exception or the norm, but this is a world away from the regular Dom Perignon which frequently disappoints. Just recently released, this is wine truly too young to drink now – don’t touch! – terrific aging potential awaits. Exceptional!

    Post a Comment / 1 person found this helpful, do you? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Perrier-Jouët Champagne Blason Rosé 91 Points

    France, Champagne

    Rich pink color. Beautiful rich strawberry and mineral nose. Medium-bodied palate features dried cherries and spice with a light creaminess. Overall, slightly flabby on the palate. Medium-long finish. Surprisingly big for a Perrier-Jouet Champagne – an excellent food rosé. Quite nice quality and complexity for the price-point.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • 2000 Pol Roger Champagne Brut Rosé 93 Points

    France, Champagne

    Gorgeous deep salmon-copper color. Incredibly rich nose: strawberries, cherries, with light cream and floral notes. Lots of upfront fruit on the medium-full bodied palate – cherries and red berries – which yield to a bit of vegetal nuance, yeast, and ample minerality on the back-end. Good acidity – should age quite nicely over the mid-term. Long finish. Fantastic – simply delicious!

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Ruinart Champagne Brut Rosé 90 Points

    France, Champagne

    Copper-pink color. Light cherry and spice nose. Medium-full bodied: ripe berries, cherries, orange, and yeast. Nice weight and balance. Medium-long finish. Relatively large bubbles seem out of balance with the rest of the Ruinart brand. Otherwise, though, an excellent Champagne.

    Post a Comment / 1 person found this helpful, do you? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Taittinger Champagne Brut Prestige Rosé 89 Points

    France, Champagne

    Light pink color. Beautiful layered nose: fresh strawberries and yeast with citrus and mineral notes. Medium-bodied palate: dominated by sweet strawberries and light mineral. Medium length finish which ends on a touch-too-sweet berry note. The flavors are nice and easy enough to enjoy but overall this wine is slightly one-dimensional and the body doesn’t meet the anticipation built by the nose. Still, though, a very likeable rosé.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

Flight 5 - Dosé (4 Notes)

  • NV Lanson Champagne Ivory Label Demi Sec 85 Points

    France, Champagne

    Pale yellow color. Nice ripe apple and spice nose, but the body disappoints slightly with just some sweet apple flavors and not much more. Massive mousse. Medium-short finish. Far better demi-secs available at this price-point.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV A. Margaine Champagne Demi Sec Traditionelle 86 Points

    France, Champagne

    Pale yellow color. Interesting nose – slightly farmy floral funk and apple aromas. Medium-full bodied with apple and sweet ginger/spice flavor profile. Medium length finish. Excellent balance with restrained sweetness. A little bit funky but truly enjoyable.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Moët & Chandon Champagne Nectar Imperial 84 Points

    France, Champagne

    Light golden color. Very fruity sweet apricot and honey nose. Sweet and fruity medium-bodied palate with apricot, pear, and light mineral. Medium length finish. Slightly too sweet for a demi-sec for my tastes – the sweetness definitely seems to overwhelm the fruit. Questionable value at $50. Pass.

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

  • NV Taittinger Champagne Nocturne Sec 90 Points

    France, Champagne

    Medium yellow color. Rich and expressive nose with light toast and peach aromas. Medium bodied palate features apricot, apple, and toast. Very nice balance with a solid mousse with a great mouthfeel. I really appreciate the light toastiness here – as it’s something I usually don’t find in the sweeter Champagnes. Medium-long finish. This bottle is noticeably better than last years. One of the finest dosé Champagnes I’ve tasted in quite a while. Superb!

    Post a Comment / Do you find this review helpful? Yes - No / Report Issue

×
×