20 Champagnes tasted side by side, not blind, in a backyard (not mine) in San Marino, CA.
Results, in order of finish:
2004 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses
2008 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne
2010 Vilmart Coeur de Cuvee
2012 Bollinger Grande Annee
2013 Roederer Cristal
2009 Pol Roger Cuvee Winston Churchill
2012 Larmandier-Bernier Chemins d’Avize
2011 Mailly Les Echansons
–bit of a break, quality-wise–
2007 Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Louis
Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle #24
2006 Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois
2008 Billecart-Salmon Brut
Krug Grand Cuvee (168eme)
2010 Dom Perignon
2010 Drappier Grande Sendree
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
Paul Bara Brut Reserve
2008 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame
Demiere-Ansiot Blanc de Blancs
1-17 were affirmatively good, with the Bara at $45ish being the last winner but by far least expensive of “this is tasty.”
The MOD was included as a lark – I was really hoping it might be sneaky good. Quite the other thing – really, really bad, a distant last. Broadly hated by all guests.
The Demiere-Ansiot wasn’t much (but didn’t cost much), but the La Grande Dame was so far inferior to its cost-peers that it starkly stood out.
More positively, this was my first-ever bottle of Coeur de Cuvee and wow was that good. Tastes like apple pie – green apple, pie crust, brown spice. More please, especially at that price.
As everyone knows, the 2008 Comtes is f’ing amazing (this was my 4th bottle), even if we are still drinking it largely on potential (the '07 drinks better now and costs less).
The Top 8 were all really terrific, each with individual character, and all felt worth the money. The Billecart/Krug/Dom group were all very correct and plenty tasty but not as interesting as the first bunch. The 2008 Billecart Brut isn’t far behind the prestige cuvees at all, and at $75ish is a steal (although very hard to find now).
Anyway, there are the results.