The Results Of Our Annual Champagne Extravaganza
We wait all year for this... our chance to compare and enjoy 14 authentic and excellent Champagnes side-by-side. Frank put together an incredible lineup for our 25th Anniversary tasting, bringing together a few benchmark larger houses like Laurent-Perrier and the revamped house of Charles Heidsieck and pairing them with our favorite tiny exquisite grower/producers. The results were fascinating and, predictably, no clear consensus emerged. One of the 120 tasters, for example, complained that the Laurent-Perrier LP was 'big and clumsy' and 'tasted like gasoline' while at the very next table, a foursome called the LP the wine of the day and collectively purchased two cases of it! That's what makes it a horserace, I guess. My notes and Frank's, as you can see below, are fairly consistent. The biggest surprise for me was Charles Heidsieck the new packaging and new disgorgement of Brut Reserve that emphasizes balance as well as power, went over very well, selling the most. And their 1995 Blanc des Millenaires was the show stopper.|
Among the best of the rest, meaning bubblies that don't cost $160 a bottle, don't pass up Barnaut. This is rich and creamy with an uncommon degree of finesse for the money. It'll appeal to everyone. Pinot Noir lovers will find a lot to love in the Dosnon-Lepages, a thoroughly charming Champagne that may not have won the bathing suit competition on Saturday but stole our hearts during the interview portion! And check out the Murderer's Row in the second flight- three powerhouses, from Pierre Peters, Pierre Moncuit and Jacquesson, that are built to reward patience. I love cellaring Champagne and these are the kinds of wines best suited for becoming something special.
The Roses were well-chosen. Laurent Perrier's is very serious, Devaux's the prettiest and most floral and DeThune's like drinking raspberry sorbet!
All are in stock. Cheers!
Mix and match for quantity discounts! Discounts will be taken at our registers.
Prices listed are as follows:
Regular Price, Price for 1-11 Bottles, 12+ Bottle Price
Mix and Match!
1. nv Barnaut Brut Grande Réserve|
$47.97, $42.99, $39.99
JR- One of my very favorites. Big and toasty with a rich palate and a white Burg sense of finesse. In spite of the fact that 13 wines came after it, it did very well amongst all the other tasters. Deal of the day in MHO. ***+
FR- What a great wine to begin with! Barnaut is rich and toasty with a creamy texture and enough fruit to let you know that you're drinking serious wine and not simple fizz. Very popular with those attending our annual event. ***
2. nv Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve|
$56.97, $49.99, $47.99
JR- Charlie is new from its packaging (and price) to its sky-high mineral acidity- it's aiming for elegance as well as power. Champagne Charlie is still a big boy, clearly with a lot of reserve wine in the blend. It's a new disgorgement and clearly needs time to add nuance to its obvious girth. With the goat cheese stuffed date, it was terrific ! Biggest seller of the day ! *** ?
FR- The Charles Heidsieck Brut has a lot going for it, with something to appeal to just about everyone, great length with a broad texture and perfect balance of fruit, oak and minerality. **+
3. nv Delamotte Brut|
$42.97, $38.99, $36.50
JR- All Chardonnay from Les Mesnil and it shows. Steely, even tannic, this has a ton of stuffing but, as always, it's a demanding Champagne that requires food. Best with the smoked salmon and grissini... would be terrific with caviar too ! **+
FR- Extremely fine, lacy wine that was overshadowed by the bigger wines in the tasting but a personal favorite of mine because of its purity, delicate toastiness and complex filigree. For the price, I could drink this every day and never get bored. ***+
4. nv Devaux Brut Grande Réserve|
$47.97, $42.99, $39.99
JR- Another one of the most popular wines of the day, this is on the softer side with a white Burgundy-like nose and texture. Nicely balanced, this drinks well on its own and would be a champ as a New Year's toast. I like mine a little brighter but it's a minor fault. Value ! **+
FR- I was so pleased that our customers liked the Devaux wines because they are new to the marketplace and certainly deserve to be recognized. The winemaking is meticulous and the wines have some serious complex flavors behind the fine bead of bubbles. I found the Devaux Brut to be quite rich and round with near perfect balance. It's a tremendous wine to drink throughout dinner. **+
5. nv Dosnon-Lepage Recolte Noire|
$47.97, $42.99, $39.99
JR- The only problem with this gorgeous Pinot Noir cuvee is the fact that it came in this lineup. Super elegant and zingy with the prettiest fruit imaginable. I loved this wine but it was too easily vanquished by the bruisers surrounding it. Absolutely sang with the cucumber cup filled with beets and black truffle vinaigrette. A favorite of mine. ***+
FR- I can mirror John's comments because I found the Dosnon Lepage to be bright and stylish with an ethereal nature that suggested a blanc de blanc more so than blanc de noirs. Still, a lovely Champagne from a relative newcomer. ***
6. nv Laurent Perrier Brut LP|
$35.97, $32.99, $29.99
JR- For being all Chardonnay, this had a lot of weight and a ton of concentrated fruit. Some called it 'oily' for its big, mouthfilling texture and it clearly is not for the faint of heart! Came into its own with the chicken livers. A lot of a lotta here and it would be of best service either by itself or with some roasted monkfish, halibut or scallops. ** ??
FR- Quite the opposite experience from Dosnon Lepage to have a Chardonnay-laden cuvee taste so dense and powerful. Laurent Perrier's Brut LP is a much bigger, richer wine than the price would suggest due to the reserve wine in the final blend. **
7. nv Paul DéThune Brut Rosé|
$53.97, $47.99, $45.99
JR- I love Rose. The color of raspberry sherbet, deThune's smells and tastes like it too. On the austere side with super fine acidity, I liked this wine's elegance despite its neon appearance. Brandon loved it with the chicken livers while I thought it was best with the date. Delish ! **+
FR- The number of rose Champagnes in our annual event has grown in recent years in response to the demands of our customers. The Paul DeThune Brut Rose is more than up to the task with a firm, vinous quality that makes it superb with food, a la John and Brandon's comments. I was extremely pleased to have Paul DeThune back in the lineup after a brief hiatus. **+
8. nv Devaux Brut Cuvée Rosée|
$47.97, $42.99, $39.99
JR- There is sweeter fruit here but, thanks to its higher acidity, it came across as absolutely charming. This is a really fun bottle of Rose Champagne while, at the same time, coming off as even a touch more complex than the deThune. And it's a fine, fine value to boot. It finished near the top in sales thanks to its perfect balance and nice price. ***
FR- Different from the DeThune, Devaux Rose is all about exotic, floral perfume and fresh, lively fruit. I think its popularity, as evidenced by the robust orders, was due to its immediate drinking appeal and vivacity. Still, wonderfully made, serious rose from and rising star in the Cote de Bar region. ***
9. nv Pierre Péters Brut Blanc de Blancs|
$52.97, $47.99, $44.99
JR- Wow. Both the Pierres are very big, serious wines. In fact, the next three wines in this tasting are not for beginners. Deeply concentrated with high acidity, skin tannin and a super fine mousse, this epitomizes the power of a young Blanc de Blancs to me. Loved it with the mushrooms but I would buy this to cellar because it'll be much better in a year or two. ***?
FR- Quite a profound wine and a personal favorite of mine because I like the Blanc de Blanc style so much.
The Pierre Peters is a highly structured wine with a stylish quality that merely hints at how great it will become with additional bottle age. Polished nuances of crisply defined Chardonnay fruit and a complex framework that hits all the right notes. ***+
10. '04 Pierre Moncuit Brut Millésime|
$54.97, $48.99, $46.99
JR- Another firm Chardonnay-based wine, this is pure Les Mesnil in its early austerity and crisp mineral finish. Impressive... it's another wine that requires food to bring out its background of nuanced fruit. Buy it and stick it in a cool dark place for a minimum of three years and watch how it changes. ***
FR- Last year, Pierre Moncuit was the top seller in the flight and this year was almost as popular. It is simply a lot of Champagne for the money, being a Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs and a vintage wine to boot. Still quite youthful wines tons of fruit held in check by marvelous acidity. Definitely a wine to save and watch it develop into a stunning Champagne. ***
11. nv Jacquesson Cuvée 735|
$69.97, $62.99, $58.99
JR- Tougher still is the new cuvee of Jacquesson! It's a monster. Linear now, it's very, very fine with a perfect balance of fruit and acid and requires only time to turn it from a monolithic wine to something truly incredible. Probably a four-star wine if you are but patient. ****(?)
FR- Jacquesson is an exquisite Champagne that quite honestly is not for everyone. It is superbly made wine from the brilliant and innovative Jean-Herve Chiquet. Pristine fruit flavors, stunning minerality and a brooding complexity that requires patience (as John said above) plus an open mind and adventerous spirit. Jacquesson is one of the 'hottest' properties in Champagne and well worth the investment. ***+
12. nv Laurent Perrier Brut Rosé|
$74.97, $66.99, $62.99
JR- The most serious Rose of the three and despite its rosy pink color, its guts are all Chardonnay. This is upper-echelon pink, the kind you can drink young (perfect with that stuffed date) or keep for many years. I love old Rose and this would be the perfect one to age... reminds me of a young Gosset cuvee. ***
FR- The Laurent Perrier Brut Rose is the sort of rose Champagne that all roses want to be when they grow up. With incredible length of flavor and robust fruit, it's the alpha male of the pack and not to be trifled with. Gorgeous wine. Expensive? Perhaps so, but wow, what an experience. ***
13. '00 Paul DéThune Brut Millésime|
$74.97, $66.99, $62.99
JR- Now we're heading to a grand finale... The wines at this house are fabulous with a decade en tirage like their Cuvee Ancient, Princess and this, the vintage cuvee. Lots of reserve wine here with great richness and elegance. This is perfect drinking right now and will only get better. Perfect balance, finesse and a white Burgundy-like sense of wineyness. ***+
FR- A vintage wine with classic brioche yeastiness and very fine, long lasting flavors. Lots of reserve wine character as well. Quite regal in stature owing to the additional bottle age and a complex Champagne for true devotees. ***
14. '95 Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires
$189.97, $169.99, $159.99
JR- What a finish. What a wine! At 17 years from the vintage, this is what happens to really good Chardonnay! Broad and toasty on the palate, this tastes like Le Montrachet with bubbles. Cristal? Good luck. Dom Perignon? Not. Vintage Krug? OK, maybe. But this is why we wait sports fans! ****
FR- All I can say is, "simply spectacular." A most complete and wonderful Champagne experience. ****