La Fete du Champagne 2019

Another fine event this year. Of course it also brought home to me the considerable difference in palates people can have when it comes to Champagne.

Usual disclaimers - A small pour, a sip, spitting out the wine gives a moment’s impression which is what I
recorded. No idea how long a given bottle was open. Palates differ. I was balancing a glass, a spit cup, the notepad and a pen while trying to sip and take notes. Etc., etc.

A fine lineup.I was disappointed by their 2014s last year but the wines here ranged from very good to
sensational. I see that the last two impressed me so much that I neglected to jot down my impressions of the first two but they were quite good.

Brut Reserve NV -
Les Beauregards 1er Cru 2015 -
Le Cran 1er Cru 2011 - Sensational! I haven’t been thrilled by many 2011s but this one takes the cake. Combines power and grace. A
Mailly Champagne Grand Cru 2013 - 100% Pinot Noir. Beautiful but very young showing incipient complexity. Needs time. A

Etienne Calsac
Thank you to all the people who recommended I try this producer! My “discovery” of the event. I loved, loved, loved these wines.

L’Echappee Belle Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru NV - lovely round, melony, melon-y, my impression was that if Marc Ollivier made Champagne this is what he would make. A
Les Rocheforts Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru NV - A bit more earthy, firmer, precise, just as good. A
Clos des Maldries Grand Cru 2014 - soft cool seabreeze on a summer’s day. A
Les Revenants (Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier, Arbane) NV - bright and vibrant nose. Grapefruit on palate. Lovely, refreshing and delicious. A-

Another board recommendation, they were not as much to my taste.

L’Accomplie 2015 - very good, sufficiently interesting that I’d like to try it again. B+
Les Noux 2015 - okay, a bit rough. B-
Le Mont Benoit 2015 - Good. B
Le Mont des Chretiens 2015 - Good, seems a bit basic. B

La Closerie Jerome Prevost
I fell in love with Prevost years ago so why don’t I buy more of their wines? After tasting this lineup rank
stupidity seems the only possible explanation.

Les Beguines 2016 - Light nose but kaleidoscopic on the palate. Earth and rocks and dirt. Gorgeous stuff. A
Fac Simile 2016 - very good but blown away by the others. B/B+
La Closerie Extra Brut 2015 - More expansive nose, I am forced to pause a moment in awe at the beauty of this wine. A/A+

Robert Moncuit
A friend suggested trying their wines. My general impression was that while I’m not sufficiently taken to seek them out I’d happily drink them any day.

Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru “Les Grands Blancs” NV - very good solid wine. B+
Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Millesime 2013 - Nicer mouse, not much on the nose. B
Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Les Chetillons 2013 - not much on the nose but very impressive on the plate. A-
Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Les Vozemieux 2011 - again, good Champagne. B+

I think I’ll stick to their rose…

Heurtebise 2016 - this was precise, long, scimitarish wine. I liked. B+/A-
Les Barres Pinot Noir (Dosage 2 g/l) 2015. Not bad but a bit heavy and boring. C+/B-
Les Barres Pinot Noir (Dosage 3 g/l) 2015. Ditto. C+/B-
Les Barres Pinot Noir (Dosage 5 g/l) 2015. Ditto. C+/B-

Mousse Fils
I expected to like these wines more than I did.

Les Vignes de mon Village NV - A blend of 2014 and 2015. Okay, a bit rough. C+/B-
L’Extra Or Late Disgorgement Reserve 2003-2014 - Captivating nose, soft and complex with a sea shell note I find very attractive. The palate was a lot less interesting. A nose, B palate
Special Club 2014 “Les Fortes Terres” - Good. B
Special Club Rose de Saignee 2014 “Les Bouts de la Ville” - not much on nose but nice palate. B+

Very impressive lineup!

Mineral 2013 - Beautiful penetrating nose ,lean and minerally on the palate. A nose, B+ palate.
Avizoise 2013 - lovely but less impressive than the Mineral.B/B+
Venus 2013 - Brilliant, complex Champagne. A-/A
EXP.14 - No notes? I tried to go back to retaste but the crowd was too big. A

Louis Roederer

Brut Premier NV - I always find this a reliably good value which fights above its price point. B/B+
Brut Vintage 2012 - Useful as I was debating whether to buy some. Good, but I probably won’t. B+
Brut Nature 2009 - Still doing well, I still prefer the 2006. B+/A-
Brut Nature Rose 2012 - A definite buy. Structured, complex and delicious. A

Dhondt Grellet
My one note for this lineup was “why was this producer recommended?” Nothing I found interesting.

Les Terres Fines 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs NV
Cramand Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV
Lieu-Dit Les Nogers Cuis 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs 2013
Lieu-Dit Le Bateau Cramant Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2014

Nice lineup.

Argilite - Good. B
La Vigne d’Or Millesime 2004 - Lovely! B+/A-
Millesime 2002 L’Etincelante - Even lovelier. A-
Cuvee Louis 2002-2003 - Gorgeous nose, rich, briochey, some ripe pit fruit. A

AMEX Lounge Wines
AMEX card required for entrance. They were pouring

NV Jacques Selosse Initiale - My first time trying this bottling. It is lovely, clear, light, delicate and complex. A-/A
2008 Roederer Cristal - still magnficent. A+
2008 Dom Perignon - I was very curious to try this as it gets a lot of love on the board. As usual with Dom I liked it but it didn’t excite me. B+

That’s it for this year. Now it’s time to start searching out some Calsac…

WHOA! If Marc made Champagne. I guess I have to try these now.

I really like the wines, that being said, I think I’m more OK with the wood than you are. I also am not sure how consistent the wines are as I’ve only been drinking them for the last couple of years and 2015 was a tough vintage.

Thanks for the notes.

Pleased to hear you enjoyed the Calsac. We opened a bottle of Les Revenants with dinner at Contra Friday evening. Second of the 2 bottles I was able to secure. This was the better of the 2 bottles, but perhaps just the company. Showed so good. Perhaps WOTY for me. Great nose, savory and comfortable. Complex palate. A fine light mousse.
The finds of La Fete for me were the Agrapart Mineral, and the Brereche Mailly.
Prevost showed very well, as did Laval.
Pascaline poured us the AMEX wines. The Initial was the one that stood out to me, more approachable than either the Dom or Cristal, which are both beautiful wines but very young.

Though I should clarify that it reminded me more of ripe vintage muscadet than, say, 2012.

Thanks for posting Jay and nice catching up at the event. My wife bought the ticket with her Amex. I’m not a “cardholder”. Sorry to miss that table!

Bereche = Yes please, Madame Catherine was pouring and very charming, glowing over her first trip to NYC.
Brut Reserve NV - dependable
Les Beauregards 1er Cru 2015 - crisp and very tasty
Le Cran 1er Cru 2011 - Delicious and super pretty, great stuff
Mailly Champagne Grand Cru 2013 - My taste was youthful, yet layered. Excellent wine.

Etienne Calsac
L’Echappee Belle Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru NV - I found it a bit “round” which I scribbled on the notepad.
Les Rocheforts Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru NV - Mouthful of rocks in a very good way.
Clos des Maldries Grand Cru 2014 - This was certainly among my top 3 of the event. So elegant, clean and precise!
Les Revenants (Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier, Arbane) NV - This is a vigorous flavorful mouthful of bubbles. I chatted briefly with Etienne about the unusual Petit Meslier and Arbane.

Agree with Jay, the wines are fine but just weren’t speaking to me. I liked the “Noues 2015” (misspelled in the notes) as the pick of the litter.

La Closerie
Les Beguines 2016 - Lovely example of 100% Pinot Meunier. Worth looking for.
Fac Simile 2016 - OK
La Closerie Extra Brut 2015 - Buy this one and the Les Beguines and you won’t regret it. Lovely and long.

Robert Moncuit - Enjoyed a brief chat with Maud Amillet, the wines have an understated subtlety.
Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Les Chetillons 2013 - Best of the table, by far. Elegant with quiet intensity, lovely finish

Heurtebise 2016 - I was a fan of the 2008 and this didn’t disappoint. Balanced and crisp.
Les Barres Pinot Noir (Dosage 3 g/l) 2015. My fav of the Pinot lineup and worth tucking one in the cellar for a couple of years

Mousse Fils
I was unimpressed by the first two wines
Special Club 2014 “Les Fortes Terres” - Light on its feet, clean, crisp and suggesting some added dimension
Special Club Rose de Saignee 2014 “Les Bouts de la Ville” - I enjoyed this…not shy in the least

Agrapart - Agree with Jay, nice lineup
Mineral 2013 - Simple, pretty, tasty
Avizoise 2013 - Kind of like the above with a lighter touch
Venus 2013 - Mostly about potential as it comes off slightly soft to start and then builds. Needs time to fill out.
EXP.14 - My first taste was very cold. As it warmed there was an intriguing elegant facet.

Louis Roederer
Brut Premier NV - Good, decent entry level
Brut Nature 2009 - Clean, crisp and proper, as I remember.
Brut Nature Rose 2012 - Thumbs up.

Dhondt Grellet
Again agree with Jay. Pass.

Argilite - Cutting, in a very polite, inoffensive kind of way.
La Vigne d’Or Millesime 2004 - 100% Pinot Meunier. Excellent length and definition
Millesime 2002 L’Etincelante - The pick of the bunch IMHO, elegant and long.
Cuvee Louis 2002-2003 - In your face intensity and something odd in the finish didn’t appeal to me

Some added thoughts:

Lanson Black Label NV and Green Label (Organic NV) - Nice enough for entry level. You could do worse with everyday Champagne.

Salon - The Delamotte Brut NV was boring. The basic (2013 base) Delamotte BdB NV is another very decent entry level choice, basic and clean. 2007 Salon: smooth and tasty but great?

Phillipponnat - 2009 Clos des Goisses - Telltale house style and really quite charming

Bollinger - 2008 La Grande Annee = too much dosage for me. 2007 Grande Annee Rose = fine, but skip it and buy the Mousse.

Pol Roger - Brut Reserve NV - another nice simple entry level value Champagne. 2008 Winston Churchill - Roundish and sleepy. I really expected more.

Michel Gonet - 2010 Le Coeur de Mesnil, not bad for their top of line, although I’m not a buyer.

Drappier - I always seem to enjoy the Grande Sendree and the 2009 is no exception…elegant and approachable. The 2002 Carte D’Or is also strikingly pretty. The Pinot Gris “Trop M’En Faut 2015”…Michel Drappier translated for me as “I can’t get enough”. It’s a mouthful of intriguing spice.

Krug - 2006 Vintage - Yes, it’s good. $275+ good? I’d buy the 2008 Cristal instead at this point.

Leclerc-Briant - The mostly Pinot 1er Cru Extra Brut NV was clean and intense. I enjoyed the 2013 Millesime Extra Brut…my note reads “BANG”.

Eric Rodez - I liked these better then expected, everything in the 2 - 4 gram dosage level. The Blancs de Noirs NV is well balanced. The Cuvee de Grands Vintage NV (2010 base) was elegant and very tasty. The 2007 Empreinte de Noire is a mouthful of Pinot Bubbles, Very good but I’d buy the Grands Vintage instead.

AR Lenoble - A very pleasant surprise. Lots of subtlety in the “Intense Mag 15”. The wines are NOT shy. Big extroverted robust red fruit with a purpose in the “Rose Terroirs Chouilly-Bisseuil”. More elegance in the 2008 Grand Cru BdB Chouilly 2008. Wouldn’t mind a bottle or 2 of the Rose Terroirs.

Ruinart - Only tasted the 2007 Rose and it didn’t move me.

Pierre Paillard - Les Parcelles Bouzy Grand Cru NV had an unusually expressive nose. Nice wine. Also enjoyed the balance and red fruited qualities in the 2002 Oenotheque Bouzy Grand Cru.

The event food was tasty as always. Well run with a fairly big crowd but you could still hit the tables/wines you wanted…with a little persistence. Palate exhaustion…not quite lacerated. Great opportunity to make up a Christmas shopping list.



what’s the Prevost Extra Brut 2015? Anyone got a picture?

Charlie, the tasting note sheet had it listed as “Les Beguines 2014” but I was told it was the 2015. Busy table so I didn’t ask too many questions.

Here’s a generic photo of a Beguines label. You can see that the “Beguines” is so light that you can easily not be able to read it, especially from several feet when the bottles are moving pretty much constantly.


2008 Dom Perignon - I was very curious to try this as it gets a lot of love on the board. As usual with Dom I liked it but it didn’t excite me. B+

Agree; youthful DP never does a lot for me. They seem to me to need a lot of age, which I’ve rarely had a chance to try.

Ruinart - Only tasted the 2007 Rose and it didn’t move me.

Agree; I often have this experience with this producer as well.

Thanks Jay and Richard for all notes–great to get such a judicious glimpse of the event!

Sorry, messed up an edit to correct some formatting and couldn’t delete this post.

Pascaline was busy moving around wine glasses when I stopped by her table to say hello so I got my pours from someone else.

right right. Just the listing you and Jay put say
Les Beguines 2016
La Closerie Extra Brut 2015

I assumed they were the same thing just different vintages, but wanted to make sure since it was listed differently.

Yeah, I assumed Jay knew something that I didn’t…which knowing Jay, isn’t a big stretch. My first experience with La Closerie.


Richard and Jay, thanks for the notes.

Reminds me good a producer Bereche is, if they managed to turn out something great in 2011.

Jay I hear you on the 08 Dom.

No extra knowledge. When the server said they changed the bottle I copied down what I saw on the label at a glance and I didn’t see the Beguines.

My bad.

2011 is unfairly judged as many have blindly jumped on the bandwagon that it is a bad, bad vintage. It really isn’t and quite a few folks did well. Overall, it should have been a lot better than it was. Too many folks picked too early fearing rot and rain. Neither came. If you had the gut to wait on your picking, the wines were quite nice and a good step up on 2010. I’m not saying 2011 is something great, but the best way to summarize the vintage is that either you did really well in 2011 or you did below average. There is no middle. You either have wines that came out under ripe or you have some very enjoyable, bright, zesty, elegantly fruity wines.

I know some folks like to talk about ladybugs affecting 2011 or a strange pyrazine characteristic that affected the entire vintage, but neither are correct. It all came down to timing the picking. Also, with age (especially on the lees), the wines from 2011 are softening quite a bit. It is a vintage you need to taste before you buy, but the good ones are well worth buying and it is a vintage well worth exploring. I’d rather have the best 2011s in my cellar than any 2010.

That’s quite a statement Brad. Certainly you know a lot more than us. Do you feel Bereche Le Cran 2011 is better than the 2010 version?

Did anyone attend the Prevost dinner and try the Climax?

My note from tasting this late last year is below; I am a fan of this wine and that is said with the fact that I am not much of a fan of most recent regular release Prevosts:

This is a late-disgorged version of the original release of the 2012 La Closerie Les Béguines cuvée; the only difference is that this wine received almost an extra three years on the lees. This retains the big, rich, oaky persona of the regular 2012 – especially on the nose – but it is much rounder and more balanced on the palate. Where the aromas are dominated by wood and baking spice, the palate relays honey, biscuit, orange, crisp apple and creamy peach. In my opinion, the wine does a much better job handling the oak in this late-disgorged version. Additionally, its structure and precision are greater with impressive length on the finish.

Excellent work by Jérôme: I only wish all of his wines could see this much (or even more) pre-disgorgement aging. His passion, hard work, and raw materials are truly showcased here. This is definitively one of the best wines I have tasted from the estate and it has ageing and improvement potential, too.

I’ve tried the Climax twice in the past month or so. I echo Brad’s thoughts.

So you think the other Prevost wines are bad, too?