2002 Vintage Champagne horizontal

Elystan Street, London

Tasted July 17, 2019 by BenBlu with 193 views

Introduction

After a great kick-off to our champagne group a few months back with the 2008 vintage we now moved onto 2002. A topical event as those champagnes are starting to show some signs of maturity and are still commercially widely available, plus it being one of those heralded vintages. So very keen to assess these under (mostly) blind conditions and get a somewhat unbiased impression. All flights were served blind with exception of flight 1 which was the kick-off and served in magnums.

Flight 1 - Flight 1 (non blind) (2 notes)

White - Sparkling
2002 Louis Roederer Champagne Vintage Brut France, Champagne
93 points
A divine start to a great evening - this was served non blind from magnum. This cuvee is an overperformer in my view out of magnum as I have still fond memories of a 1996 magnum I had ~6-7 years back, i.e. at around a similar age. This to me was a perfectly balanced champagne with very good depth that was very classic Roederer to me. I also have a nostalgia of that old label (which is when their Brut Premier was still a great NV but that is different point of discussion). To me a beautiful champagne that is drinking at its early phase of full maturity in magnum but will keep and will probably improve for the next 10 years.
2 people found this helpful Comments (2)
White - Sparkling
2002 Moët & Chandon Champagne Grand Vintage Brut France, Champagne
88 points
This one didn't work for me - out of magnum served non blind as starter to the event and after / side by side a Roederer 02 from magnum (which was divine). I got a quinine tone on the palate akin to tonic water which is not something I am looking for in a champagne. It felt quite green and unbalanced. One my very the few glasses that ended up in the spittoon.
2 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 2 - Flight 2 (blind) (3 notes)

White - Sparkling
2002 Lanson Champagne Noble Cuvée de Lanson Brut France, Champagne
93 points
Served blind. For me just the weakest wine in the flight but it had stiff competition. A very balanced proposal as well here showing a nice classic buttery brioche notes. Good value.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2002 Bollinger Champagne R.D. Extra Brut France, Champagne
96 points
Really great showing by Bolly RD in this flight. For me just second wine in the flight but for the group probably #1 as my #1 (Billecart CSH) divided the group a bit. The Bolly showed pinot heavy, a fabulous richness on the nose and oaky fatness on the palate. Often I find RD to lean and lacking dosage but this worked here. It wasn't the razor sharp thin RD that I sometimes dislike. This was for once Grande Annee + rather then -. Very good and one of the positive surprises of the evening.
3 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2002 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Les Clos Saint-Hilaire France, Champagne
97 points
For me one of the wines of the evening and side by side the Bollinger RD just the wine of the flight. Quite orange golden in the glass. Others liked this a little less, it did seem to divide the crowd. Blind it was my guess that this was the CSH as I felt it clearly pinot blend and there was a distinctiveness about it that I adored. It was a brute proposition in a way, very very racy, bone dry, some borderline sherry aromas. But for me it worked. However, I can understand why others may not really enjoy this. The good thing is with a wine like this that drinking a small glass leaves an impression that I feel I actually properly drunk this. I loved it. Mulling over whether to buy a case however I might flake. I think it is a wine to buy by the bottle rather and enjoy once. In terms of ageing potential I am not that sure where this will go. I could see it going too much into the sherry spectrum so I would lean towards drinking this sooner rather than later.
3 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 3 - Flight 3 (blind) (3 notes)

White - Sparkling
2002 Philipponnat Champagne Brut Clos des Goisses France, Champagne
96 points
One of the wines of the evening. Another (lucky) one I guessed blind. On the nose I thought this was ultra distinctive and I remarked it reminded me of how a drop of gasoline on a gingerbread must smell like. Very spicy. Very pinot - I kept going back between this and the CSH. The Goisses is more of a "crowd pleaser" (if there is one between those two offerings), although certainly also an uncompromising style. For me the CSH just pipped it today whereas I think the Goisses may have better LT potential. In its flight the Goisses for me was very close to the Krug in absolute quality and again the Krug "just" pipped it. Very very good though and up there with the best.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2002 Delamotte Champagne "Collection" France, Champagne
88 points
One of the weakest wines of the evening for me. On the nose spearmint and herbaceous. The palate disjoint, unpleasant thin / bitter. Nah - another one of the few down the spittoon.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2002 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut France, Champagne
97 points
Quite a bit more developed than when I had this last a year ago (a sample that was visually much lighter and was still much more primary / lean). This time the wine showed some golden hue in the glass, it was rich and statuesque as Krug Vintage goes with age. It was the WOTF just pipping Clos Goisses. An all rounder, if you like champagne hard not to like, has it all. For WOTN this was clearly up there for me. Looking forward to how this will develop over the years. AG called this one wrong in my view.
2 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 4 - Flight 4 (blind) (3 notes)

White - Sparkling
2002 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Nicolas-François Billecart France, Champagne
92 points
Blind and after a terrific prior flight of Krug and Clos Goisses this champagne didn't deliver for me. It does hoewever echo my sentiment that I voiced before that this needs a lot time. It seemed very clear in colour, there seems to be some potential/material here but it doesn't come out to play. It was (just) the best wine in a weak flight. I think hold this for 5 years + (a 1996 NF recently opened showed very young but very good). Drink the Billecart CSH today and wait for the NF.
2 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2002 Dom Pérignon Champagne P2 France, Champagne
flawed
To me an off bottle. Mushroom nose, but musky /earthy but not in a pleasant way. Team LVMH at the table also felt it was not a clean sample. So let's refrain from opining on it. The standard DP served in the next flight was miles better.
White - Sparkling
2002 G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne Cuvée R. Lalou Prestige France, Champagne
90 points
A fine champagne but in the context of many greats it wasn't up there. Quite middle of the fairway but simply nothing to get me hooked up on.

Flight 5 - Flight 5 (blind) (3 notes)

White - Sparkling
2002 Gosset Champagne Celebris Extra Brut France, Champagne
96 points
Served blind in a terrific flight (maybe the best / most consistent of them all of the evening) it held its own against the other two big guns. To me definitely the "value" surprise of the night, a wine that could have been had a few years ago for a relative bargain that is emerging as a grand champagne. Not giving away its low dosage that obviously this showed lovely early maturity signs, buttery, very balanced. A champagne to enjoy now as it is hard to imagine it getting much better. Must be in its sweet spot or there about.
White - Sparkling
2002 Dom Pérignon Champagne France, Champagne
96 points
I love Dom Perignon in general and the 2002 in particular. Very happy to see when the wine was revealed it was in fact Dom. Inimitable Dom richness and funk and smoke. This is going to be titanic with age I am quite convinced. To me Dom is best at around 30 years of bottle age for standard bottles so fasten your seatbelt around 2030-2035 but no harm checking in till then at all. Today maybe just one small step behind the absolute WOTN but I think with time this can be up there. It was just beaten for WOTF by the Cristal.
2 people found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2002 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut France, Champagne
97 points
A lot of red apple, very (heart) warming charming but complex at the same time this champagne seemed to have an extra gear most others did not. A bit annoying really given that the Cristal 08 was clearly WOTN at the last vintage assessment, but truth be told under blind conditions it was probably my WOTN again. Oh boy... I do think though that Cristal 08 is even better!

Flight 6 - Flight 6 (blind) (3 notes)

White - Sparkling
2002 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut France, Champagne
92 points
A decent / good champagne but really? We were warned by Peter who brought the bottle and bet that not many would be picking out Salon as one of their contenders for WOTN. So it was, wasn't even WOTF as the Deutz next to it trumped it with some ease for me / the group. Not sure what went wrong here. The Delamotte 02 was a catastrophe so the house as a whole must have put a foot wrong in 02 judging by these showings. I will say that the Salon seemed to have some potential but it is doubtful that it will ever blossom into anything epic that would justify the price tag.
White - Sparkling
2002 Deutz Champagne Cuvée William Deutz France, Champagne
95 points
A very "wine-y" champagne that proved utterly rounded and all-rounder champagne / has it all / classic in my view a la classic Deutz. One of the positive surprises of the night and clearly better than Salon drank alongside (leave alone Pommery Louise).
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2002 Pommery Champagne Cuvée Louise Brut France, Champagne
88 points
When I started drinking champagne I wanted to keep an open mind. But it was at the tender age of 18 that I made up my mind that Pommery was not going to find a place in my cellar based on unacceptable experiences with their Brut Royale. I might have had (the misfortune) to be given 2 or 3 glasses of Pommery since and I was always disappointed. So whenever a very weak champagne in this tasting came up (didn't happen much but Delamotte was one) my guess was Pommery. Well here again and it was correct. I don't know what else to say but this is just uninspiring and the house shouldn't even be allowed to have a "prestige cuvee". Sort of like a Dacia Logan goes premium segment. Just bland, uninteresting. Nah. Avoid, there are so many better option out there.
1 person found this helpful Comment

Flight 7 - Flight 7 (blind) (3 notes)

White - Sparkling
2002 Lanson Champagne Noble Cuvée de Lanson Blanc de Blancs Brut France, Champagne
90 points
Bit of citrus, quite weak overall though and a shadow of the "standard" Lanson Noble Cuvee which seemed to have it all. This was a bit disjoint to me and I doubt it will ever really get there. So conclusion is go for the "normal" Noble instead, that one can go places with more bottle age.
White - Sparkling
2002 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill France, Champagne
95 points
Noticeable pinot dominated blend, visually copper, this was a very good showing and good contrast to the sweeter Piper Rare alongside. The CSWC was to me cleaner, less dosage and blessed with a nice salty kiss on the aftertaste that made it very interesting. I like this and it was a bit of a redemption for the house after its 08 underwhelmed us at the prior tasting. WOTF for me.
2 people found this helpful Comments (1)
White - Sparkling
2002 Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Cuvée Rare France, Champagne
94 points
I feel time has been good to it - when I tasted it a year + back I commented that it had been given too much dosage. But the thing with sugar is that it can integrate over time and add to development. However, side by side CSWC I still felt it was too sweet and that might possibly distract and take away aromatic complexity the champagne might otherwise be showing. It is quite nutty, caramel in core flavours and this to me is a crowd pleaser. However it is not quite up there with the very best of the vintage.
7 people found this helpful Comment

Flight 8 - Flight 8 (blind) (3 notes)

White - Sparkling
2002 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs France, Champagne
93 points
Some lime and apple but overall possibly a bit lost after having had a lot of champagnes and some of which which were distinctive stand-outs and many of those pinot dominated. I felt this a bit weak when revealed for the pedigree but there wasn't anything wrong/out of place and my inclination is to bet that on its own and maybe earlier in the tasting it would have showed better. Also it will benefit from bottle age.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White - Sparkling
2008 Moët & Chandon Champagne Grand Vintage Collection France, Champagne
91 points
Better than Grand Vintage magnum 02, but still a weak-ish champagne in the conext of stiff competition. Some grapefruit and bitter extract which might see it age and emerge as something better than it is today.
White - Sparkling
2002 G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne Mumm de Cramant France, Champagne
91 points
Another one in the tail towards the end that I wasn't particularly fond off. Fine materials but lacking mid palate and wow effect.

Flight 9 - Flight 9 (blind) (3 notes)

White - Sparkling
2002 Perrier-Jouët Champagne Belle Epoque France, Champagne
92 points
Admittedly from foggy memory at this point - another me too effort that didn't get to touch the heights of other prestige cuvees of the evening. It felt like playing it a bit safe and that the underlying materials were just about good rather then very good.
White - Sparkling
2002 Bruno Paillard Champagne Nec Plus Ultra France, Champagne
93 points
(Very) late in the evening and with quite a bit of fog on the memory front. This was a bit more angular than most, showed distinction but was not close of getting to match the Comte de Champagne served next to it for absolute class.
White - Sparkling
2002 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne France, Champagne
96 points
Last wine of a spectacular evening. And even though the palate was tiring and the memory is foggy I think I thought something along those lines: Acacia honey, roast nuts, brioche - sublime balance and very good ageing potential. The best BdB of the night.
2 people found this helpful Comment

Closing

Beautiful evening of great company, lovely service and food and last but not least a truly epic line-up of 2002 (white) vintage champagnes that can be called fairly comprehensive. To me 2002 and 2008 could be called on par after the impression of both nights, albeit I felt the heights (Cristal and Cristal rose) were (very slightly) higher in 2008 possibly. The 2002 today stood out for me by its overall serenity, being quite a "winey" champagne vintage at this point, with particularly pinot dominated blends showing amazingly well (not to say there were no highlights on the Chard side). Overall a very strong showing by a lot of champagnes and to sum it up for me the top wines were: Roederer Cristal, Krug, Billecart CSH, Dom Perignon, Taittinger Comtes, Philipponat Goisses, Bollinger RD. The champagnes punching above their weight and positive surprises up there almost with the just named were Gosset Celebris, Deutz CWD, Roederer Vintage magnum, Lanson Noble Cuvee. Disappointments of the night were Delamotte Collection, Pommery Louise, Moet Grand Vintage (magnum), and Salon (for the price tag). Many thanks to Peter for organising and each and every one for their respective contribution(s) both in terms of bottles but also in terms of enthusiasm and knowledge. Looking forward to the next vintage assessment.

Unfortunately the only let-down for me of the evening was the loss of my tasting notes on the way home. So these are all from memory only and might be less descriptive / useful as I would want them to be. Although on the scores / overall ranking I feel fairly confident on relying on my (admittedly champagne clouded) memory.

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