A fun and informative blind tasting of 2012 vintage champagnes

Also posted in the thread “Which champagne are you drinking?”

Thanks to Frank Murray, lll, I was extremely grateful to be invited to join some of his usual group of Orange County folks to enjoy a blind tasting of 2012 vintage champagne.

And, thanks to Frank and Jill, we were hosted righteously on their energetically correct back patio.

There were 10 of us in total with 8 more seriously tasting through 12 champagnes while all were feasting on some fine Indian food sourced from the nearby Basanti Indian Cuisine restaurant.

And if 12 champagnes were not enough, Frank and others opened up additional bottles and it was a glorious afternoon and another opportunity to be humbled with a blind tasting format while learning more about our palate preferences and the 2012 vintage.

We poured 2 bottles at a time as most everyone had 2 glasses. Geeky me, had 8 on the table and 4 more in the bag, but I did not pull them out.

The first 2 champagnes were my bring, bagged earlier with my name of it while chilling in the frig, so it was not blind for me, but nonetheless a surprise on how they performed.

Here’s some notes on the first 12 in the order poured:

2012 DOM PERIGNON- blind; I stand corrected in the percent of the blend announced as it is 51% Chardonnay and 49% Pinot Noir and dosed at 4 gpl; I’ve only had a couple of bottles of this and both were much more expressive, but still not ready and this bottle was not ready to give a whole lot; the first taste was so underwhelming and I put it aside and moved on and then came back to it and found more to like, but not enough to even consider opening another bottle for a few years; following its light yellow color came aromas of mild citrus notes, that on the palate translated into lemon and lime that continued all the way through; the most striking think I got was its bracing acidity; it was fairly intense and strongly suggestive of supporting longevity; I kept going back and after an hour, it still was a bit discombobulated and out of balance and yet there was a hint of elegance and forthcoming charm to be enjoyed down the line.

2012 DELAMOTTE BLANC de BLANC MILLESIME BRUT- blind; 60% of the fruit sourced for this comes from les Mesnil-sur-Oger, Ovize and Oger with 20% equal parts from each and the remainder of the fruit coming from Cramant, Chouilly and Oiry; as with previous bottles I’ve had, this one was spectacular, having such an inviting nose of fragrant yellow roses, orchard and stone fruit which on the palate more specifically included lemon, orange, peach, golden delicious apple with mild hints of butter and oak; it had a wondrous creamy mouthfeel which served to enhanced the long, satisfying finish; this is marvelous bubbly now and has all of the structure to be great in the years to come; eventually, it was by my WOTD with the next one coming in a close 2nd.


NV KRUG 168 eme GRANDE CUVEE BRUT- blind; the ID code is 119001 and we are told it consists of 52% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 13% Pinot Meunier with the oldest of the blend coming from 1996 and the youngest from 2012; it received its cork in the winter of 2018-2019; it had a clear yellow color and a nose full of vanilla laced lemon and orange zest with a hint of hazelnut and ginger in the background; it was full on, rich and luscious with an impressive finish where everything came together and held on beautifully; my #2 WOTD.

2012 FREDERIC SAVART EXPRESSION NATURE 1er Cru- blind; 100% Pinot Noir disgorged 2017; sporting a hazy yellow color, this no dosed bubbly offered some serious aromas of ginger and coconut accented, super ripe red apple, citrus and strawberry; it seemed quite advanced initially and yet backed off past mid palate and along with its smooth mouthfeel, glided in for a grand finish and was quite delightful.

2012 PIERRE GIMONET BLANC de BLANC SPECIAL CLUB GRANDS TERROIRS de CHARDONNAY BRUT- blind; the fruit consists of a small blend of the oldest vines in the house where the grape vines are over 40 years old and the 2 oldest were planted in 1911 and 1913; it is made of 60% Cramant Grand Cru, 30% Chouilly Grand Cru 30% and 10% Cuis 1er cru; aged 6 years on the less, disgorged July 2017 and dosed at 4 gpl; yellow color; spritzy and acidic, I got more red fruit notes with mild rose petals in the nose and mild red cherry in the taste with some citrus fruit mixed in; it had a cotton candy like mousse, was very light, easy, mellow and delightful; even with the red fruit notes, it seemed like a mild version of the Delamotte. I suspect my palate is a bit weird on this day and I held off eating until tasting through the initial 12 wines.

2012 VEUVE FOURNY & FILS CUVEE du CLOS NOTRE DAME BRUT 1er Cru- blind; 100% Chardonnay although not indicated on the front label and an Extra Brut, disgorged 4/22 and dosed at 3 gpl; yellow to gold color; I got white pepper and spice accented lemon zest, grapefruit and yellow apple fruit early on when it seemed to be showcasing some power only for it to fade out and arrive at a much more mellow place enhanced by its super soft and smooth mouthfeel.

2012 DELAMOTTE BLANC de BLANC MILLESIME BRUT- blind; a duplicate not detected as it was quite different albeit really good; it did posses the same yellow gold color, but the nose and taste was more citrus, especially lemon and the texture was not as heavy nor creamy as our first bottle; it seemed much more spry and youthful and yet maintained perfect balance while sporting loads of acidity; I made note that it was one of my favs thus far and when revealed, I’m thinking this came from a more recent release whereas the bottle I brought was part of the first release 4 years ago and has constantly displayed a broad spectrum of flavors and amazing power and finesse.

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2012 BERECHE LE CRAN EXTRA BRUT- blind; 50% Chardonnay and Pinot Noir disgorged 7/19 at 3 gpl; gold yellow color; the nose seemed to have advanced notes of super ripe ginger accented stone and orchard fruit which on the palate was identified as apricot, yellow peach, pear and especially yellow apple; as nice and fruity as it was, it’s hallmark for me was its super smooth texture; this is fully loaded and in time, I expect it to mellow, balance out and be sublime and I enjoyed it in this early phase.

2012 PEHU SIMONET FINS LIEUX NO. 6 VERZENAY GRAND CRU- blind; 100% Chardonnay disgorged 12/18 at 2 gpl, therefore, an Extra Brut; clear yellow color; the initial nose turned up some TCA, but then maybe not as it blew off in minutes and did not reappear, but it sure was wet cardboardy; fortunately, some really nice citrus and nectarine pleased immensely with lemon, lime, red apple {yes, even in a BdB} and more stone fruit filled in the taste profile; it was medium in weight and expression and as such, was elegant and charming AND NOT CORKED.

2012 LARMANDIER-BERNIER les CHEMINS d’AVIZE BLANC de BLANC GRAND CRU- blind; although not indicated on the front or back labels, this is an Extra Brut dosed at 3 gpl; the fruit is sourced from a single, old vines 0.7ha plot in Avize that is bio-dynamically farmed; after its yellow color came mild aromas of mineral and chalk accented peach and nectarine with a touch of coconut {here again as with the Savart above, I get coconut in a champagne which I’ve previously gotten in Spanish wines made in American oak and to my knowledge, no Champagne producer uses American Oak. We talked about this}; this was a fruit forward, mildly expressive bubbly that actually was a relief at this point in the tasting as it was so soft and easy on the palate. Although there was no disgorgement date indicated, I’m wondering if it was recently disgorged which could explain why it was so understated and perhaps it expands significantly in a couple of years or more? Maybe it was disgorged with a coconut based liquer- Ha.

2012 GOSSET GRAND MILLESIME BRUT- blind; 67% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir; this was outstanding and one of my favs of the day; it had everything going for it including its nice balance; the most operative word here is elegance as it gently glided over the palate and graced the back end with all of its treasures; yeasty citrus, apple and pear fruit made up much of the fruit profile in this medium to full bodied beauty showcasing some power and more finesse. I’d track this wine over the next few years as I have an idea it will probably gain more richness and fullness.

2012 VEUVE CLICQUOT BRUT ROSE- blind; for those of us who struggled to ID some of the wines, I got this as a rose; yes, it had a rose red color and an inviting nose of rose petals, spicy strawberry and red raspberry before nice fresh red cherry came in on the palate; it was nicely balanced, very lovely and tasty.
This is comprised of 51% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay (34%) and 15% Meunier; it is then elaborated with 13% red still wine, exclusively from the Pinot Noir of Bouzy. Included is an addition of 11% of wines aged in large wooden casks.

At this point, I ready to eat before re-visiting these first 12 and the additional bottles that were subsequently opened, of which I know of 4 plus a 375 ml dessert wine.

Of the additional wines, I liked them all with a preference for:

2012 VILMART & CIE COEUR de CUVEE BRUT 1er Cru- blind; 80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, disgorged 3/19; the color was clear yellow and the nose offered nice notes of green apple, citrus and grapefruit; the taste profile included more of the same plus a hint of buttered brioche and crisp acidity; it was medium to full bodied with a soft and smooth mouthfeel.

2012 GUY CHARLEMAGNE la CUVEE MESNIILLESIME le VIEILLES VIGNES MESNIL sur OGER BLANC de BLANC GRAND CRU EXTRA BRUT- blind; it seems quite youthful with lots of energy and an abundance of grapefruit notes that sung out loud and clear; additionally it gave mineral enhanced honeyed green apple, lemon and lime and as such, was very tasty; it also had an appealing smooth texture and a bright acidic finish; really good now with promises for a brilliant future.
No doubt, on this day and maybe all others, it wins the award for being the longest named bubbly.

There were at least 2 more wines, one a nice, refreshing 2012 rose from Pol Roger and a 375 ml of an intense Sine Qua Non Shackled made from Petit Manseng that could have been served by the dropper full.

What a wondrous occasion this was. Again, I an grateful for the invite and to be able to share the afternoon with righteously good, like minded people.



Look at that picture of suspicious characters! So grand, Blake, that you got to spend time with Frank, Jill and the posse.

Basanti–yum, yum, yum!

As always, superlative notes.



Agreed Mike. Always a treat to be in the presence of such fine folks.