Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

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Blake Brown
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Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#1 Post by Blake Brown » March 26th, 2020, 11:28 am

One of the positives about being socially distanced and staying at home has been daily cellar raids and trying new things out as well as pulling old, dependable treasures.

A few days ago, I opened a NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut which came wrapped in cellophane much like Cristal only it had a very dark amber color and definitely not the same content. I got a hint on the nose, but a definite hit on the palate of what I am trying to ID. It was like salt and pepper and mindful of a similar characteristic I had in a NV Piper-Heisdieck Brut I tried many years ago and like now, I do not like it.

I kept searching for the right descriptors and even my wife, who has a fantastic palate, had difficulty. I looked the Paillard up on line and discovered a review by one wine critic who used the term "chalky minerals". That comes much closer to what I'm getting. I understand there is chalk and minerals in the soli, but I've been drinking a lot of champagne for a few decades and only twice have encountered this character.

What is this and what contributes to it?

Thanks and may you all be in joy and maximum health and well being.
Cheers,
Blake
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#2 Post by Blake Brown » March 28th, 2020, 8:25 am

Brad, Frank, Warren, Steve, Ray, all you experienced bubble heads- any ideas?
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Frank Murray III
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#3 Post by Frank Murray III » March 28th, 2020, 12:01 pm

Blake, the tendency is to try and 'fit' the experience and locate something that is singularly expressive, the 'it's this' of what you're tasting. What you described above seems just fine to me.

"It was like salt and pepper" [highfive.gif]
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#4 Post by B. Buzzini » March 28th, 2020, 12:10 pm

Crushed granite?
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#5 Post by Anton D » March 28th, 2020, 12:35 pm

Could it be a little “over reductive?”
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#6 Post by GregT » March 28th, 2020, 12:37 pm

It was like salt and pepper and mindful of a similar characteristic I had in a NV Piper-Heisdieck Brut I tried many years ago and like now, I do not like it.
That seems pretty useful and descriptive just as it is. Chalk and minerals OTOH, is pretty useless. Better to just say dust.
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#7 Post by RichardFlack » March 28th, 2020, 1:26 pm

White or black pepper? [stirthepothal.gif]

(Or brown green or pink)

Seriously, I assume black is the default. And nothing wrong with your wording, as such, but not knowing the wine can’t say if there’s anything better.

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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#8 Post by Blake Brown » March 28th, 2020, 5:18 pm

Frank Murray III wrote:
March 28th, 2020, 12:01 pm
Blake, the tendency is to try and 'fit' the experience and locate something that is singularly expressive, the 'it's this' of what you're tasting. What you described above seems just fine to me.

"It was like salt and pepper" [highfive.gif]
Thanks for chiming in Frank and others.

I gave it too much of a positive spin calling it salt and pepper. I've enjoyed that saline component in many champagnes, but I can't remember ever getting get black or white pepper.

It's not crushed granite or dust either. It's a very different character and to me, it`s not a result fo being reductive and it`s not welcomed. And since it is so rare to ever experience it, I'm trying to understand how that can ever get into a champagne and in this case, 2 different ones from different producers and regions with different soil types and climes.
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#9 Post by Brad Baker » March 30th, 2020, 11:40 am

Blake,

You got me on this one. Piper's NV and Bruno Paillard's BdB are not similar wines and while there is a chance that they may have some common Chardonnay grapes in the blend, the amount would probably be pretty minor. The only thing they really have in common is that their respective wineries are down the road from each other. Some wines do have a peppery characteristic as part of their profile. I often find Laurent-Perrier's wines (especially the vintage) to show this to some degree when young, but it isn't offensive and I don't find it in Piper NV or Bruno Paillard BdB.

My guess is that you are picking up on some type of damage in the wine, but more experimentation is needed to figure it out. I sometimes get a metallic-like characterisitc in Champagnes that have seen some minor issues in storage/handling. You would really need to try more bottles of the Bruno Paillard BdB and probably from different sources/batches just in case an entire shipment was affected.

One other question - do you find this characteristic in other wines from Piper or Bruno Paillard? It could be something in their winemaking practice that you are sensitive too.

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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#10 Post by Blake Brown » March 30th, 2020, 12:55 pm

Brad Baker wrote:
March 30th, 2020, 11:40 am
Blake,

You got me on this one. Piper's NV and Bruno Paillard's BdB are not similar wines and while there is a chance that they may have some common Chardonnay grapes in the blend, the amount would probably be pretty minor. The only thing they really have in common is that their respective wineries are down the road from each other. Some wines do have a peppery characteristic as part of their profile. I often find Laurent-Perrier's wines (especially the vintage) to show this to some degree when young, but it isn't offensive and I don't find it in Piper NV or Bruno Paillard BdB.

My guess is that you are picking up on some type of damage in the wine, but more experimentation is needed to figure it out. I sometimes get a metallic-like characterisitc in Champagnes that have seen some minor issues in storage/handling. You would really need to try more bottles of the Bruno Paillard BdB and probably from different sources/batches just in case an entire shipment was affected.

One other question - do you find this characteristic in other wines from Piper or Bruno Paillard? It could be something in their winemaking practice that you are sensitive too.

Fun stuff.
Thanks Brad for your feedback.

The fact that you have not found this character in either of these champagnes strongly suggests batch/ bottle variation to me. I've had this in more than one bottle of Piper from different sources so I have to think it's not from damage. Also, I do have another bottle of the Paillard and will open it to discover what it has to offer.

I most definitely have had a pepper accent in L-P wines and welcome it, but this I wrongly stated salt and pepper as that is much more flattering and acceptable from what I experienced. Metallic comes closer, maybe rusty metal. I do not have nay issues with metallic in mild forms, but this is not mild.

I've never found this character in any other bubbly.

More to be explored and the next Paillard may help to provide some answers.
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#11 Post by PeterH » March 30th, 2020, 1:00 pm

Sometimes a trace of brett leaves a metallic edge. Other stray yeasts can mimic brett. Maybe the fact that the wineries are down the road from each other is a clue.
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#12 Post by Brad Baker » March 30th, 2020, 2:50 pm

Blake,

When you are referring to multiple bottles of Piper, is this is reference to just the NV or have you experienced this in any other wines in the Piper-Heidsieck range. Same for Bruno Paillard - have you found this characteristic in any other wines in his range besides this BdB? This can help eliminate general wine making and house style as a possibility.
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#13 Post by Blake Brown » March 30th, 2020, 5:11 pm

Brad Baker wrote:
March 30th, 2020, 2:50 pm
Blake,

When you are referring to multiple bottles of Piper, is this is reference to just the NV or have you experienced this in any other wines in the Piper-Heidsieck range. Same for Bruno Paillard - have you found this characteristic in any other wines in his range besides this BdB? This can help eliminate general wine making and house style as a possibility.
Brad, I referring to only to these wines for both and I only had 2 bottles of the Piper and bailed on buying/ drinking others after getting this note in both bottles.
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#14 Post by Brad Baker » March 30th, 2020, 5:53 pm

Blake,

So it sounds like this is narrowed down to (2) particular bottles of Piper NV and (1) bottle of Bruno Paillard BdB. This happens to also represent your only experience with these wines so there is a limited sample size. I don't know if I would expect the other Bruno Paillard BdB bottle that you have to be any different if it was purchased at the same time. It might be interesting to go out and purchase a fresh bottle of Piper NV and see if you get it again. If you do then there is clearly something about the Piper NV that you are not grooving with. That also provides a bit more concrete information to start digging into and possibly identifying what it might be. Right now, it could be a damaged wine (from storage, handling, or something going sideways in the bottle), a particular characteristic of a release/disgorgement, a winemaking choice on a specific wine, or some character that you are sensitive too that happens to appear in the wine. Did your wife also find the wines/character off-putting?
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#15 Post by Blake Brown » March 31st, 2020, 8:23 am

Brad Baker wrote:
March 30th, 2020, 5:53 pm
Blake,

So it sounds like this is narrowed down to (2) particular bottles of Piper NV and (1) bottle of Bruno Paillard BdB. This happens to also represent your only experience with these wines so there is a limited sample size. I don't know if I would expect the other Bruno Paillard BdB bottle that you have to be any different if it was purchased at the same time. It might be interesting to go out and purchase a fresh bottle of Piper NV and see if you get it again. If you do then there is clearly something about the Piper NV that you are not grooving with. That also provides a bit more concrete information to start digging into and possibly identifying what it might be. Right now, it could be a damaged wine (from storage, handling, or something going sideways in the bottle), a particular characteristic of a release/disgorgement, a winemaking choice on a specific wine, or some character that you are sensitive too that happens to appear in the wine. Did your wife also find the wines/character off-putting?
Again, many thanks Brad for your input and help in investigating the character I'm trying to ID.

I'll hold off on opening the other Pairrlard in favor of getting another bottle of the Piper that is easily accessible locally and give it a try.

I`m leaning on this being in the areas of "a particular characteristic of a release/disgorgement, a winemaking choice on a specific wine".

My wife noticed what I was referencing and was not put off by it. She tried to ID it and called it more like white pepper and metallic. I like white pepper, although rarely find it in champagne, and still think that is too flattering and not nailing it close enough. I can include metallic as being a component, but it's something else.
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#16 Post by PhillipDube » March 31st, 2020, 8:44 am

Do you know if these are recently disgorged wines? Sounds like it could be some excess sulfur dioxide (SO2) that has yet to dissipate.
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Re: Help! Please help me to accurately describe and understand a character tasted in a champagne

#17 Post by Blake Brown » March 31st, 2020, 8:56 am

PhillipDube wrote:
March 31st, 2020, 8:44 am
Do you know if these are recently disgorged wines? Sounds like it could be some excess sulfur dioxide (SO2) that has yet to dissipate.
Phillip, I have no idea as to disgorgement dates as none are indicated on the bottles, but I can recognize SO2 and that's not what his is. Also, this character persisted throughout the first glass which btw has a large bowl and relatively large mouth which allows for increased aeration {Sophienwalk Champagne Grand Cru glasses}. We returned to it 2 days later and there was absolutely no change.
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