Champagne & Caviar: a lesson in decadence

The Apt

Tasted July 15, 2017 by MC2 Wines with 366 views

Introduction

Wow - what a day. This theme has been thrown around for years now and so glad we finally executed on it. Wine theme was champagne and we had 17 different bottles of it (well, really 16 with two very different bottles of 1996 Dom Ruinart champagne) across 15 people (one of whom skipped the champagne for some Chablis). As is standard, after the 'official' tasting the bonus bottles came out and more great times were had.

Similar rules to the past events. Wines were double blind in general (except for own wine bought which were single blinds). We had everyone 'blind' their own wine and then a different person place them so folks couldn't tell which was which.

After tasting, everyone gets 5 pennies to vote on wines. Can spend 5 pennies on 1 wine or 1 penny on 5 wines or anything in between. After all of the voting is done, wines are unveiled and folks can go back and retaste.

And then of course the bonus bottles.

For a different perspective from a favorite note writer - look to nyccablover - https://www.cellartracker.com/event.asp?iEvent=35740

Flight 1 - Main event: Blind champagne tasting (17 notes)

White - Sparkling
N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Grand Cru Lieux-dits Extra Brut Ambonnay Le Bout du Clos France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
Wine #1: This is the one I was most excited to try of the ones we bought. First time with it and I'm not sure it shows best in the tasting format where we were all doing relatively small pours (1-2 oz) and not sitting with the wines and letting them evolve over time. Originally the acidity was almost overpowering. Lots of nuttiness and a bit of a yeast to it. I almost wondered if it was a bit oxidized the first time. Revisited later in the afternoon and that part seemed to have blown off some. (0 pennies)
2 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2009 Marie-Noëlle Ledru Champagne Grand Cru Brut Millésimé France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
Wine #2: My first time with this wine and really liked it. It's smooth and a bit rich and buttery and lots of vanilla. I thought it was pretty. (2 pennies)
2 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2002 Bollinger Champagne R.D. Extra Brut France, Champagne
Wine #3: Similar to my last notes on this wine. It's very young tasting and coming on the heels of the rounder and richer Marie Noelle this was almost a bit harsh at first. It softened some in the glass (and relatively quickly). Lots of brioche and toast though. I liked it a lot better when it had a bit of time for the bubbles to calm down. (2 pennies)
3 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
1996 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs France, Champagne
Wine #4: One of my favorites of the tasting in this form (and this tasting was a good lesson in bottle variation (see other note). This was a bit candied in nature. Almost really melts in the mouth bubbles. A bit of golden apple. Very bright, but also soft. Very pretty. (6 pennies)
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
1995 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Blanc des Millénaires France, Champagne
Wine #5: A bit more in the buttery and brioche. Harsher bubbles than the Dom Ruinart on either side, but really great flavors which makes this an enjoyable wine. (4 pennies)
4 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
1996 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs France, Champagne
Wine #6: Ok - yes, so it's a double-note on this, but the bottles were so very different it seemed apt. A real lesson in bottle variation as even after the unveil when many of us went back to try them again back to back they still seemed like very different wines. This one was much more hay, brioche. Again the bubbles very fine and gentle, but missing the brightness and almost candied fruit that I got in the other bottle. (1 penny)
2 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
N.V. Bollinger Champagne Special Cuvée Brut France, Champagne
Wine #7: This wine came across as just a very standard champagne. It is the prototype for what you think of when you think of champagne. Nice toast. Lower bubbles by the time I got to it. (1 penny)
2 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
1997 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut France, Champagne
Wine #8: Another favorite of mine during the tasting. It's almost a bit clean after the Bollinger. I thought a touch bitter. Some green apple. Herbal qualities. I enjoyed it although did not recognize it as the Salon in the tasting. (4 pennies)
2 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
N.V. Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée France, Champagne
Wine #9: The food pairings we had with the champagnes were great and originally I thought this might have benefitted from being drunk next to the crab dip. I found it to be very smooth with lovely bubble and hints of vanilla and a touch of honey. When I retried it I didn't love it quite as much as I had liked it with the food. Still, good champagne. (1 penny)
5 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
1998 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne France, Champagne
Wine #10: The winner of tasting and one of my favorites as well. Almost a bit spicy in nature which I appreciated. There's some toast and vanilla as well. Very pretty. (14 pennies)
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2004 Gonet-Médeville Champagne La Grande Ruelle Extra Brut France, Champagne
Wine #11: More bubbles and more toast than the tattinger before it. This was well structured and just a generally nice champagne. (1 penny)
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
N.V. Jacques Selosse Substance France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
Wine #12: The issue with this tasting is there just weren't enough pennies. I had in my notes that this was a pretty good champagne. Lots of nuttiness and toastiness to it. Also some hints of spice which I found I really liked. Good wine. (2 pennies)
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2002 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Rare France, Champagne
Wine #13: This wine could definitely have won prettiest bottle. The bubbles were still going strong even though I was getting to it later in the tasting. Vanilla, nuts, toast, but also a bit smoother. Don't think I would have gotten that it was an '02 as I didn't get the same level of youngness but could also have been because the bottle had been open for a bit before I got there. (3 pennies)
3 people found this helpful Comment
Rosé - Sparkling
N.V. Laurent-Perrier Champagne Cuvée Rosé Brut France, Champagne
Wine #14: Even in a blind tasting sometimes you can just recognize a bottle. Surprising that it was the first and only rose in the group. Hints of strawberry. There's a bit more depth here or at least I sensed that although the flavors themselves were a bit less complex than some of the others. A fun wine. (5 pennies)
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2005 Agrapart & Fils Champagne Grand Cru L'Avizoise France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
Wine #15: Another one of my favorites from the tasting. Also a great pairing with the crap dip. This was more apple in nature than anything else which I really like. Very enjoyable. (8 pennies)
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2002 Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année France, Champagne
Wine #16: For some reason I kept getting distracted when trying this wine so I prob went back to it a few times. In that nutty category of champagnes. Wrote that I enjoyed it in my notes, but felt like it didn't stand out. Perhaps hard as both 15 and 17 were really great (3 pennies)
3 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
1990 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Blanc des Millénaires France, Champagne
Wine #17: The last wine of the tasting and yet this one stood out. It's got butter and toast and something that I couldn't quite put my finger on after sixteen previous champagnes. Soft. Hints of vanilla. Very nice. Runner up in the tasting. (13 pennies)
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 2 - Bonus bottles! (4 notes)

I did not try across the full range of bonus bottles. In addition to the ones mentioned below, we also had:

2014 Rene Rostaing Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes Les Lézardes
1991 Masseto - same wine we coravined for my birthday, I'm afraid it was corked

White - Fortified
N.V. Vilmart & Cie Ratafia de Champagne France, Champagne, Ratafia de Champagne
So fun! And what a real treat for Maire to bring this so we could all try. I unfortunately didn't take detailed notes as this was opened at the end of a champagne tasting. I liked it though. It was lovely and sweet and really hit the spot. Despite being 18%, the alcohol was not at all overpowering. Well done.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red
1999 Castelgiocondo (Marchesi de' Frescobaldi) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
Unfortunately didn't take detailed notes on this one. We opened and decanted and I prob drank maybe 20-30 minutes later if I had to guess. Remember thinking it was a very nice and easy drinking red. I enjoyed.
Fruit/Vegetable Wine
N.V. Eden Ice Cider Co. Apple Imperial 11 Rose Cider USA, Vermont
Man I love this wine and at the end of a big champagne tasting when we needed a summer sipper to continue the conversation over it's hard to imagine anything much better. This is just very quaffable. Thirst quenching. Great dryness with touches of apple sweet. There's a reason we order these by the case.
Fruit/Vegetable Wine
N.V. Eden Ice Cider Co. Cellar Series #6: Treebeard USA, Vermont
On the heels of the rose cider from the same place. Loving this one as well. It's like the IPA of ciders. Putting together two of my favorite things. We poured it for a friend who has a similar love of IPAs and she was blown over. Just a great drink.

Closing

This has to be one of our best tastings. There was not a single bottle that I didn't enjoy. And must say that the food pairings (caviar and the crab dip esp) were just wonderful with the wine and at times I had to go back to check myself if I really loved the champagne or it just benefitted from being paired with the caviar.

Here were the final tallies:

14 pennies
1998 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne (Wine #10)

13 pennies
1990 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Blanc des Millénaires (Wine #17)

8 pennies
2005 Agrapart & Fils Champagne Grand Cru L'Avizoise (Wine #15)

6 pennies
1996 Dom Ruinart (Wine #4)

5 pennies
NV Laurent-Perrier Champagne Cuvée Rosé Brut (Wine #14)

4 pennies
1995 Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millieres (Wine #5)
1997 Salon Le Mesnil Brut (Wine #8)

3 pennies
2002 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Rare (Wine #13)
2002 Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année (Wine #16)

2 pennies
2009 Marie-Noëlle Ledru Champagne Grand Cru Brut Millésimé (Wine #2)
2002 Bollinger RD (Wine #3)
NV Jacques Selosse Substance Blanc de Blancs (Wine #12)

1 penny
1996 Dom Ruinart (Wine #6)
NV Bollinger Champagne Special Cuvée Brut (Wine #7)
2004 Gonet-Médeville Champagne La Grande Ruelle Extra Brut (Wine #11)
NV Krug Grande Cuvee (Wine #9)

0 pennies
NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Le Bout du Clos (Wine #1)

In addition to the wines, we also did a caviar tasting. As it was caviar, we used quarters for the voting. Final results:

Caviar 1: Olma Russian Osetra Caviar Karat (2 quarters)
Caviar 2: Olma Kaluga Royal Caviar (3 quarters)
Caviar 3: Olma Siberian Osetra Aurora (2 quarters)
Caviar 4: Olma Beluga Sturgeon Caviar (5 quarters)
Caviar 5: Lady Elena Starry Skies - Sevurga Caviar (2 quarters)
Caviar 6: Lady Elena Elegance - Golden Osetra Caviar (4 quarters)
Caviar 7: Lady Elena Beluga Baer - Beluga Hybrid (8 quarters)

Overall an excellent day with good people, good wine, good food, good cigars, good whiskey, good coffee, and great conversation. Looking forward to the next one!

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