Champagne Producer Tour, 2011

Champagne, France
Tasted Tuesday, May 10, 2011 by tarheel17 with 539 views

Introduction

All notes were taken at the domaine/cave/winery/whatever you want to call it. Our hosts were absurdly generous with their time, hospitality and knowledge.

Flight 1 - Charles and Piper Heidsieck, Riems (7 Notes)

  • NV Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut 86 Points

    France, Champagne

    tasted at the Pavillion with Christian
    This reminded me of 'typical mass-market chamapgne' - the stuff that the average consumer expects when he/she grabs a bottle off the shelf to pop that night.
    lots of fall apple flavors, light in character, we noted a mineral-filled midpalate with a somewhat innocuous personality. I found this bottle to be way more pleasant than the one tasted earlier this year, whose specs and provenance I do not know (bought off a list in a restaurant). This bottle was based on 2007, with 15% reserve wines from 02-06. 86-87 pts

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  • NV Charles Heidsieck Champagne Brut Réserve 92 Points

    France, Champagne

    Tasted with Christian at the Pavillion
    Chris decided after this tasting that CH was to be our new 'house' NV, beating out several years of Bollinger loyalty. I'm OK with that and so is the bank account.
    nose: milk chocolate, hazelnut goodness
    palate: richer and heavier than piper NV tasted alongside (unsurprisingly), this had a lovely complexity including nutmeg and stone fruits. The base was 2006 with 40% reserve wines from 1996-2006. Aged 36-48 months. They do spoils us so with this NV...loved it. 91-92 pts.

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  • 2004 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut Millésimé 90 Points

    France, Champagne

    Tasted at the Pavillion with Christian
    nose: beautifully precise, with flowery red and sweet fruit, the nose was quite captivating. As it warmed I got a little smoke to it, too.
    palate: very vinuous in flavor, with some greenery and more floral tones. THe mineral nature emerges with a bang at the end. 50% PN, 50% Chardonnay. Released about 3-4 weeks ago. 90-91 pts

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  • 1995 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Blanc des Millénaires 96 Points

    France, Champagne

    Tasted at the Pavillion with Christian.
    nose: coconut and pineapple. Smelled exactly like when my friend Darcey would make homemade pina coladas in the blender with all fresh ingredients. I loved the nose
    palate: WOW. coconut and lemon and pineapple, this was dryly tropical. Very young, with a streak of lively, vibrant acidity and a long finish. I can't believe 100% chardonnay can act like this. Yowza. I wish I could buy a case and just sock it away in the cellar.

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  • 2002 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Rare 98 Points

    France, Champagne

    Tasted with Christian at the Pavillion
    disgorged 2010, 73% Chardonnay, 27% Pinot Noir
    nose: seashells, sweet bread
    palate: just slightly incomplete now, underneath is something silken, tight, and pulsing with frothy energy. The rest of my notes say: "Wow. This is going to be awesome."
    This wine was eye-opening. Having been fullly enamored with the Charles Heidsieck line compared to the Pipers throughout the tasting, I wasn't even close to prepared to taste this. Was I got was an electric shock of pure, crack-laced mineral shot through my veins with high-strung, glamorously crazed citrus. Having personally never taken heroin, this is what I imagine drinking it would be like. SImply extraordinary. Amazing. Incomprehensible. Hallucinatory. I sure hope I'm not going to go all Trainspotting trying to recreate the experience....in fact, I'm afraid to be dissapointed if I ever get a chance to taste this again. What a ride.

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  • 2000 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Brut Millésimé 93 Points

    France, Champagne

    Tasted at the Pavillion with Christian
    nose: lovely chocolate covered almonds, major mushrooms
    palate; very fresh, good for another 10+ years, but I would drink now. Disgorged 2009, released 2010. 8 years aged on lees.

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  • 1981 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Charlie

    France, Champagne

    Tasted at the Pavillion with Christian.
    This was a treat - I mean, what do you ask for when your guide takes you to the Heidsieck Caves and says, "Pick a bottle"?
    nose: lemon coated mushrooms, cashews, dust, butter...the aromas were frankly indescribable. Not single entities, but a medley of the craziest, most delicious compost-pile combination imaginable.
    palate: Like aged meursault. Entirely delicate, fresh, this was an amazing truffle/lemon-oiled experience in a glass. Totally complete, refined, and though approaching its twilight, not yet there. I'm so glad we woke this bottle up from its slumber and I think it was happy to meet us too. Impossible to rate, really. We will remember this bottle forever, though.

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Flight 2 - Chartogne-Taillet, Merfy (3 Notes)

  • 2007 Chartogne-Taillet Champagne Cuvée St. Anne

    France, Champagne

    Tasted with Alexandre.
    nose: very appley
    palate: smoky with a taste of telltale Merfy chalk, this came across a little watery to me, but was very vibrant. average of 35-year old vines, this cuvee was made by Alexandre's parents, he told me. This makes me wonder what the difference will be going forward. I'll have to buy some to find out.

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  • 2005 Chartogne-Taillet Champagne Blanc de Blancs

    France, Champagne

    Tasted with Alexandre
    from 1 parcel in Merfy, this wine exhibited a more voluptuous mouthful compared to the St Anne, though the same chalkiness was evident. I enjoyed it, but didn't take further notes, unfortuantely. SO this is really more of a palceholder than anything...

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  • NV Chartogne-Taillet Champagne Brut Rosé

    France, Champagne

    2007-base. 60% pinot, 40% chardonnay, plus rose de saignee.
    Strawberry and mineral, also some savory beef jerky spices were noted. My favorite of the 3 wines tasted, this had class and verve in spades. Wish I could have bought some (he was all sold out).

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Flight 3 - Vilmart & Cie, Rilly La Montagne (4 Notes)

  • NV Vilmart & Cie Champagne Grande Réserve

    France, Champagne

    Tasted with Laurent.
    base was a blend of 2007-2008, disgorged July 2010. 30 % Chardonnay, 70% PN. Very vibrant, oak is subtle but still there. Not overly complex, but a bargain for the price at the cellar door. Bought 3 to cart home in the suitcase, so better notes to follow.

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  • NV Vilmart & Cie Champagne Grand Cellier Brut

    France, Champagne

    Tasted with Laurent
    blend of 2006, 2007 and 2008 wines. 30% PN, 70% Chardonnay. More volumptuous in fruit (and more red fruit) than the Grand Reserve tasted previous. the nose had a lovely chalky scent to complement the red fruit and the palate had a longer finish with more complete flavors. Laurent suggested aging no more than 3-5 years.

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  • 2005 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Grand Cellier d'Or 93 Points

    France, Champagne

    Tasted with laurent
    from 40-yr old vines, 80% Chardonnay, 20% PN, aged 10 month in small barrel (4-6 years old). The nose exhibited cinnamon spice, orange and lemon. The palate reminded me of christmas cookies it was so very delicious.

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  • NV Vilmart & Cie Ratafia de Champagne

    France, Champagne, Ratafia de Champagne

    Tasted with laurent
    100% PN, first fermentation is blocked with brandy. The nose reminded me of bitter strawberries soaked in sugar. The Palate had quite some staying power, though lighter than the average dessert wine. I'm not a huge ratafia fan, but this seemed nice. No rating because I'm so unfamiliar with the type.

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Flight 4 - Henri Goutorbe, Ay (1 Note)

Flight 5 - Bollinger, Ay (3 Notes)

  • NV Bollinger Champagne Special Cuvée Brut

    France, Champagne

    Tasted at Bollinger
    After our tour, Christian opened a magnum for the 12 of us. It tasted a bit dull and flat, which he attributed to a mistake during disgorgement. So then he opened a 750 ml to taste alongside...this was much fresher and sprightly.

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  • NV Bollinger Champagne Brut Rosé

    France, Champagne

    Tasted at Bollinger
    better than my previous experience with the NV rose, I still think this is just OK, and way overpriced. No data was given on disgorgement or base wines at the tasting.

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  • 2002 Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année

    France, Champagne

    tasted at Bollinger
    not too showy, this was well-structured and in it for the long haul. More mineral than I generally expect from Bollinger, the fruit remained a bit hidden. Hard to evaluate completely - I look forward to tasting this again in a few years.

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Flight 6 - Pierre Peters, Mesnil Sur Oger (7 Notes)

  • NV Pierre Péters Champagne Blanc de Blancs Perle du Mesnil

    France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne

    Tasted with Rodolphe
    The only Peirre Peters wine that is not entirely grand cru, this is 50% from a vineyard in Sezanne. The nose had lime peel and light yeast, almost appearing sweet in nature. The palate offered sweet lemon peel, very fine, light bubbles (only 4.5 pressure compared to regular chamapgne of 6). This was very dry but still creamy. Very fun.

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  • NV Pierre Péters Champagne Extra Brut

    France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne

    Tasted with Rodolphe
    nose: smokey, described as "gray" by Rodolphe, with crushed sea shells on the edge. Very detailed and interesting
    palate: laser-tart, with a shorter finish, I foudn the nose to be much more interesting than the palate. From Rilly, Oger, Cramant and Avize - 4 plots blended.

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  • 2004 Pierre Péters Champagne Grand Cru Cuvée Speciale Blanc de Blancs Les Chetillons

    France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne Grand Cru

    Tasted with Rodolphe
    disgorged March 2011.
    a very different wine from the two NVs tasted previously, this had a nose of exotic spices, earth, and very ripe though savory fruit. The palate was pretty darn tight. I sensed some hidden spice, cream, and a slight bitterness that reminded me of grapefruit rind. Hard to evaluate...will give my bottle some serious time to come together.

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  • 2002 Pierre Péters Champagne Grand Cru Cuvée Speciale Blanc de Blancs Les Chetillons

    France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne Grand Cru

    Tasted with Rodolphe
    nose: very ripe fruit, but less savory than the 2004. THis seemed to have a bit of meat flavor which came out over time, as did more savory spice.
    palate: powerful mineral, light licorice, and overall very balanced with the fruit and length. Ages to go - no rush to drink this.

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  • NV Pierre Péters Champagne Brut Rosé for Albane 92 Points

    France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne

    Tasted with Rodolphe
    nose: defined strawberry, light mineral dust
    palate: red berries melded perfectly into chiseled rock. Altogether elegant and fine, this was exceedingly long-lasting ont eh palate without being even remotely cloying or heavy. Wonderful rose. So wonderful, I seem to have forgotten I tasted it previously....but at least my notes are consistent!

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  • 1990 Pierre Péters Champagne Grand Cru l'Esprit 95 Points

    France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne Grand Cru

    Tasted with Rodolphe
    nose: mushroom and truffle and ripe apricot
    palate: weighty, but not heavy, this was still fresh with lemon peel essence. Fantastcially intense but light....really excellent balance displayed here. Loved it.

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  • 1973 Pierre Péters Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Millésimé

    France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne Grand Cru

    To end our visit, Rodolphe scrounged around his cellar to find this delightfully decrepit looking 375 ml bottle. The label was disintegrating before our eyes, the cork was almost entirely un-readable... so, naturally the only thing to do was to pop this historical delight and pour Chris a glass of his birthyear champagne.
    nose: sweet smoke, sherry, truffle oil, carmelized fruit cake
    palate: still alive! No bubbles (but who needs bubbles?) This had interesting flavors that improved over the 20 minutes we spent with it. Heavy in weight, apparently due to a higher dosage this wine was given decades ago, we tasted apricot, restrained citrus, carmelized citrus rind and a bunch of other stuff that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Despite its age and off vintage, this still managed relatively high acid and a lip-smacking end. Fascinating. A taste of history.

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