For the past few weeks, my wine consumption has been greatly reduced culminated by a 2 week vacation in NW Michigan where it was even easier to abstain while living in the peaceful and tranquil setting among beautiful lakes, streams and forests. Once I returned, I checked the calendar and discovered there was a special champagne luncheon I’d previously signed up for and I knew then I’d be back involved in a more serious way at least for this one occasion which promised to be extra stellar.
Ian Adamo, of Somm`s Kitchen in Paso Robles, has been featuring some extraordinary events over the past couple of years and this one was as good as any. it included 14 of some of the best champagnes that have graced the planet since 1990 and were poured during a 5 course luncheon attended by 14 people. Here’s some tasting notes:
NV BILLECART-SALMON BRUT NATURE- zero dosage; made of 30% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and the Grande Vallée de la Marne, 30% Chardonnay sourced from the top Crus in the Champagne region and 40% Pinot Meunier from the Vallée de la Marne and the southern slopes of Epernay; it is vinified in stainless steel tanks, uses 50% to 60% reserve wines and aged 48 months on its lees; sporting fine acidity and fresh, ripe mineral laced citrus fruit, this prepared us perfectly with well cleansed palates.
2006 TAITTINGER COMTES de CHAMPAGNE BLANC de BLANC- a friend who I rode with brought this gem to share and it shined as literally a hundred or so other bottles have done before it with similar notes to more recent evolving bottles; it seems to be just getting better when I thought that maybe it can’t get any better than stellar; it showcased its significant bright acidity, lovely aromas of toasty brioche and spicy citrus fruit followed by a preponderance of fresh lemon zest and orchard fruit on the palate plus a creamy, feel good mousse and ideal balance; another bottle of this stupendous wine.
2002 SALON LES MESNIL BLANC de BLANC- my eyes lit up when I saw the next 2 bottles appearing and they even got bigger and brighter after a few sips of this marvelous bubbly; it had seamless balance noticed throughout each revered sip; the flavor profile was loaded and giving of slightly toasted citrus fruit; the texture was soft and smooth adding more elegance and the layered depth enhanced the entire experience; truly amazing bubbly. This was eventually my WOTD after repeated comparisons.
2007 SALON LES MESNIL BLANC de BLANC- following the
02, this had a lot to live up to and it almost pulled it off; in fact, I kept going back to be sure I was getting as much as it seemed I experienced as I had a hard time believing it could be anywhere close to the stellar 02; it was super rich, super soft and easy and but did not have quite the depth and complexity, although it was really good and just needs some time to evolve and mature. Here’s another example of a 2007 showing way beyond the vintage hype.
2002 DOM PERIGNON- I realized I’ve not had many of this vintage and so it was a real treat to see how it is holding up against so many other wondrous champagnes from this vintage; it was stupendous; it showcased a bounty of spicy and honeyed citrus fruit, absent the almond, nutty notes I usually find in mature DPs; that was not a problem in that it had so many other redeeming qualities to make up for it; it kept unfolding and giving up new treasures with each sip with hallmarks of richness and balance adding to the taste treat and texture. A great Dom. Maybe my #2 WOTD.
1996 DOM PERIGNON- I was sort of surprised to see this treasure come up, but what better to compare the 2002 with and maybe get a read on where it will arrive with more time; this
96 was one of the best ever bottles I’ve had including 2- 6 packs I bought way back when; this bottle was just fantastic; showing perfect balance, it was exciting from the nose through the tail with mature, spice laden lemon lime delivered in an oily, creamy like medium that carried all of the goodness while gaining momentum past mid palate; how can I judge this to be anything other that the WOTD? Well, it would be more out of respect and reverence as this has to be the best ever 96 DP I’ve had
2009 POL ROGER SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL- this was poured separately and rightfully so as it turned out, as it displayed a much different profile than most all of the others on the day with its white pepper and all-spice laden stone fruit notes; it was full boded with a bit of weight and as such, had a lovely mouthfeel; although I’ve not had all that many SWCs, I’ve loved everyone and find them to be more approachable early on and with the structure and wherewithal to stay the course for many a decade. This bottle seemed to support that contention.
1990 KRUG- and the gems just keep on coming; this was one of the best 90
Krugs I’ve ever had which seems to be my more frequently stated remark for the day for just about every bottle; it was a bit too chilled and therefore a little less expressive, but when it warmed up, the flavors just kept on unfolding, albeit with grace and charm; once again, as with most of the other more mature bottles, this had beautiful balance, holding a steady course throughout; honeyed lemon, apple and orange flavors stood out with a touch of creme brûlée coming in past mid palate; it was creamy and rich, crisp and full bodied with an impressive finish that sealed the deal and I regretted n to saving more. Maybe, another #2 WOTD. Maybe #1.
1990 DOM PERIGNON- and here’s another one of the best ever to add to the list; in fact, my last one was opened to celebrate my Kansas Jayhawks winning the National Championship this last April and it was almost in as perfect a condition as this one; again the operative descriptor is balance with everything being in its righteously appropriate place; following its medium yellow color came wondrous aromas redolent of ripe citrus fruit that continued on to be joined by a streak of spice and a dollop of brioche; it had a luscious mouthfeel and just reeked of elegance and sophistication. I`m giving up on how many WOTD I can have.
1990 POL ROGER SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL- this showed very different from the others with perhaps just a hint of oxidative notes evidenced by its musty, dusty butterscotch and nutty aromas; it offered some decent notes once tasted that included mint accented citrus, peach and apple while being served in an oily medium which enhanced the finish where it all came together.
2012 EGLY-OURIET GRAND CRU MILLESIME- I was surprised and happy to see these next 2 bottles which came from one of my very favorite small growers; this bottle was ready to give and be appreciated and earn its place in this lineup among giants; possessing youthful power and energy, it handled the challenge beautifully by also generously giving nice buttered apple, lemon and lime fruit with a touch of chalk and minerals in the background; this sported bright acidity, had an aura of class and dignity and was nicely positioned in the total lineup.
NV EGLY-OURIET BLANC de NOIRS VIELLES VIGNES LES CRAYERES GRAND CRU- this is a 100 % Pinot Noir blend from both 2014 and 2015, comes from 70+ year old vines, aged 51 months on its lees and dosed at 1 gpl; in a word, it is delicious; it featured spicy, ginger laced apple, red cherry/berry and red plum with a touch of brioche while being delivered in a creamy smooth texture which added to its complexity, length and overall allure.
And then Ian pulls out 2 bottles that were in clear, unlabeled glass, one was blood red and the other a faded light pink and I’m wondering what more can he do and the answer was a startling “A Lot”:
2008 LOUIS ROEDERER CRISTAL ROSE- I was shocked to learn the blood red, saignee made rose was that of Cristal especially after Ian mentioned the other one came from Jacques Selosse and I had already wrongly identified it as being the saignee; it is comprised of 56% Pinot noir and 44% Chardonnay, 20% of which is matured in oak tuns; nonetheless, this was nicely accented with ginger, blood orange, red cherry, red grapefruit and tangerine with a streak of minerals running through it all the way to the back end; it was the lasting impression of minerality that stood out at the finish; this needs time to evolve and come together and most certainly, will be cherished and revered by most of us Cristal lovers.
NV JACQUES SELOSSE BRUT ROSE- disgorged 1/3/18; light pink salmon in color, this is the rose that Cristal should have made as it gave wondrous fresh floral aromas including rose petals and then on the palate, some nice clove accented strawberry showed up along with a hit of saline and minerals; it was medium to full bodied, nicely balanced and just reeked of grace and charm. As an aside and begs the question “ did Ian know this going in to today’s choices to be poured?”, the Pinot Noir used in this comes from Francis Egly.
Well, here’s another fantastic luncheon with a rare, perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity to sample some of the all time GOAT in one sitting. My “fast” has been righteously broken.
L to R: Steve Werndorf, me, Tom Heath and Ian Adamo