La Fete du Champagne from across the Pond

The first London version of this event occurred this weekend. At the gala dinner last evening, some terrific bottles were poured. Apologies in advance for the brief notes on the wines that were particularly memorable…really only next day impressions…as the festive and frenetic atmosphere is not conducive to more thoughtful composures.

A huge shout out to the the somms from both NYC and London. A special thanks to the London somms who covered our table…Terry Kandylis (Head Sommelier at 67 Pall Mall), Heidi Mäkinen of 67 Pall Mall, Dawn Davies and Michael Sager-Wilde…as well as Kaitlyn Caruke of Walnut Street Cafe in Philadelphia and Matt Conway of Marc Forgione in NYC. You guys and gals rocked!

And thanks to the many generous attendees for the bottles poured.

1996 Clos des Goisses 750ml and magnum: Both wines were very fine. The 750ml was surprisingly more mature than the magnum and possibly even around its peak. The magnum was very fresh and far from mature. Both bottles showed a thoughtful hand coping with an integration of the high acidity of the vintage with the fruit and succeeded.

1988 Ruinart and Pol Roger Cuvee Winston Churchill magnums: Both terrific wines full of energy, tertiary character (biscuity, barley sugar), yet plenty of primary fruit remaining. The Winnie has more layers and more length…and was one of the wines of the night…but the Ruinart held its own.

1982 Clos des Goisses (deg. 2013): Gorgeous Champagne, incredible intensity. Biscuity, vanilla, barley sugar but some primary red fruits. Will continue to acquire more tertiary character for those seeking it but fantastic today.

1969 Lanson Club Red Label: An real treat…Champagne at its zenith with complex tertiary character…biscuity, creamy, barley sugar, touch of caramel.

2005 Clos des Goisses Juste Rose: Made with red wine separately vinified from a plot in the Clos. They moved to a saignée approach after this vintage (might be a saignée made separately and added though…not sure). Absolutely delicious bursting with red fruit and energy. Part of the energy from this wine is not only from the acidity, which is in line with the vintage, but also the benefit of some tannins from the added red wine.

2005 Bollingers Vielles Vignes Francaises: VVFs can be variable but this bottle was stunning, exploding with ripe red fruits and, like the Goisses Juste Rose, the structure to support it and provide the energy.

1982 Dom Perignon: A bottle that must have had immaculate storage conditions, as it still had a slight reductive character that opened up with time to show a seductive character.

1981 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Charlie: Fully mature but singing when it was opened with layers of complexity, including some subtle chocolate notes. This bottle faded a bit with time but was still a treat.

1975 Dom Perignon and 1975 Dom Perignon P3: What a special opportunity to try these two side-by-side…and thanks to the somms for connecting our group (which had the P3) with another group (which had the original release). The original release was at it peak, perhaps just beginning to show signs of tipping, biscuity, creamy, some nougat…delicious. The P3 was vibrating with energy but mostly tertiary complexity, similar to great mature white Burgundy at 30 years old (pre-premox).

1937 Massey demi-sec: Wow…what a revelation. Medium dry…caramel, vanilla, cinnamon and other sweet spices. Silky textured and long. An energetic acid spine holding it together.

Thank you for sharing your impressions, Ken. The 1937 Massey demi-sec sounds like a special treat.

Thanks for the notes. Interested to hear about the main tasting as well.

1988 Winston Churchill is a top-five all-time Champagne for me. My first and still my favorite Churchill.

Agree with Jayson on the 88 PR Winston Churchill - a great Champagne!

Appreciate the note on the 96 Clos des Goisses in particular. I’m sitting on a few of those wondering when to start opening them. Looks like it’s time to try one.

Hi David…if you have 750ml bottles, I would definitely open one. The 750ml was brought by the domaine. The magnum was brought by one of the attendees. The difference was dramatic. It could just be bottle variation in the 750ml format and not necessarily just the different format size but worth checking out.

Great notes Ken, any thoughts from the Grand Tasting?

Grumble,grumble, durn furriners stole our event, grumble, grumble.

More seriously, glad you got to enjoy it this year. The New York version is always superbly organized, ridiculously fun and very informative.