La Fete du Champagne Grand Tasting

First off, I’d like to comment on how well organized both this and the one seminar I attended were. I’m quite pleased that shortly before leaving I commented to someone “This was such a good event!” and turned around to see that Peter Liem had just walked by and had a big smile on his face showing that he had overheard me.

Food was also very impressive. Of particular note were the grilled Japanese Miyazaki Wagyu that diBragga was serving and the Hiramasa Crudo with Sunchoke Caponata, Lemon and Parsley from Cafe Boulud.

Bubbledogs was also a lot of fun (a London restaurant that specializes in Hot Dogs and Champagne). Lots of other very good offerings as well.

There were a lot of producers present and I only managed to visit about half the tables before deciding that even after spitting most of the Champagne I’d had enough.

One caveat before giving my notes. Most of these Champagnes had just been opened and had not gotten much air. I know at least one bottling (the Winston Churchill) that suffered for this and I have to assume there were more.

One of my two must-visits.
The Violaine was as brilliant as always. Precise, vibrant Champagne that was an amazing match with the above Wagyu steak.
Le Jardin de la Grosse Pierre. Softer, more complex,
2008 Millesime - clean minerals, intense, very young.
2004 - Much more mature nose than the '08, very good. complex. Hope the 2008 turns into this.
Loved all of these but the Violaine was my favorite.

Resonance Extra Brut 2012 - I’ve never been thrilled by the Resonance and this does not change my mind. A bit coarse.
Eloquence Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs 2011 - beautiful nose, a delightful Champagne. One to seek out.
Concordance Extra Brut 2011 - Strong but balanced. I prefer the style of the Eloquence and Indulgence but this is very good.
Indulgence Extra Brut Rose 2011 - what a beautifully delicate indulgence. Definitely a lighter styled Rose. Like biting into a single perfect macaron.

Rene Geoffrey
I did some quick tasting and spitting which confirmed my prior opinion that with the exception of the Volupte (not poured at this event) they are not making Champagnes for me.
Empreinte Brut 1er Cru 2008
Extra Brut 1er Cru 2005
Extra Brut 1er Cru 2004
Rose de Saignee 1er Cru

Pierre Gerbais
All these wines were very good with my favorite being the Grains de Celles which showed a very nice rainwatery nose
Grain de Celles 2011
L’Audace 2011
L’Original 2010

Laurent Perrier
Ultra Brut - harsh, the kind of no-dosage wine that I dislike. Wines like this turned me off no/low dosage for years
Cuvee Rose
vintage Brut 2006 - Nice
Grand Siecle - Ditto

Pierre Paillard
All were a bit rough, not my style.
Bouzy Grand Cru
Bouzy Blanc de Blancs Les Mottelettes Grand Cru 2009
Bouzy Blanc de Noirs Les Maillerettes Grand Cru 2009
Bouzy Grand Cru Millesime 2004
Coteaux Champenois Bouzy Rouge 2008

Georges Laval
Brut Nature Cumieres 1er Cru - okay
Cuvee Les Chenes Brut Nature Cumieres 1er Cru 2009 - V. Good
Cuvee Les Hautes Chevres Brut Nature Cumieres Brut Nature 1er Cru 2009 - long, impressive, excellent
Brut Nature Rose Cumieres 1er Cru - not my style

Vilmart & Cie
Grand Cellier Brut 1er Cru - very good
Grand Cellier Brut d’Or Brut 1er Cru 2010 - slightly better
Coeur de Cuvee Brut 1er Cru 2007 - Wow! Rich, wonderful! Among my favorites of the tasting
Cuvee Rubis Brut Rose 1er Cru - I’ve never understood the fuss so many of my friends make over this bottling. Unfortunately the vintage Rose (which I love) was not being poured.

Pol Roger
Brut Reserve - very good. I used to buy this wine and stopped a long time ago. I question my younger self’s decision making.
Vintage Brut 2004 - very sulfury nose. I can’t get past it.
Vintage Brut Rose 2006 - Very good, clean.
Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill Brut 2002 - good, rich, but a bit simple. Reminds of my disappointment with a bottle of 1999 before it had gotten an hour or two of air

Maison Bereche
I made a beeline for this table when I first arrived.
Brut Reserve - nice, good
Rive Gauche (Base 2011) - lovely! long, complex, crystalline.
Campania Remensis Extra Brut Rose (Base 2011) - very good but a small step down from the previous vintage
Le Cran er Cru 2006 en magnum - amazing nose! this and the Rive Gauche are buys for me (though perhaps not in magnum).

Jacques Lassaigne
Les Vignes de Montgueux extra Brut Blanc de Blancs - Very nice!
Le Cote Brut Blanc de Blancs - much less so
La Colline Inspiree Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs - beautiful
Millesime Brut Nature Blanc de Blancs 2006 - pure, lovely, just under the Inspiree

Pascal Doquet
Anthocyanes 1er Cru Rose - interesting nose, very good
Arpege Brut Blanc de Blancs 1er Cru - nice, okay
Diapason Grand Cru Blanc de Blanchs - again, nice but nothign to seek out
Les Mesnil Coeur de Terroir Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2005 - a little better than the last two

Zero - Brut Nature - Really good!
BAM! - Brut Nature - Again, really good! Both of these have an attractive underlying caramel note
La Vigne d’Or - Blanc de Meuniers Brut Nature 2004 - not my thing. All of Pinot Meunier’s stereotypical bad qualities
Cuvee Louis - XXe - Brut Nature - very sulphury on the nose, so so

Thanks for notes, will consult this next time I’m Champagne shopping.
I need to buy more Beniot-Lahaye.
I’ve recently discovered the Pierre Gerbais wines, and bought assortment, but haven’t seen the Grain de Celles

Thanks for the notes Jay. I’m not surprised you got burned out during the tasting. There is no way I could taste Champagne for four hours straight even spitting everything. Another great event by Daniel Johnnes, he really does a first class job.

Yes, I only could get to 18 producers before giving up (and while I put wines from the last two producers in my mouth, swirled them around and spit them, I am not sure I tasted them). Great event. Unfortunately, I did not make it to Benoit-Lahaye - next year.

For me, the QPR of the event, and for me so far probably in Champagne, is Bereche’s Brut Reserve.

Among the smaller producers, as I said in another thread I really liked Agrapart, Bereche, Chartogne-Taillet, Collin, Lassaigne and Laval. My most pleasant surprise of the event was Roederer.

I doubt I went back there more than 10 times or so. champagne.gif

Sorry, I missed seeing you Jay. Looked for you but never ran into you. Funny as it was not that crowded and I found all the DC people up there that I was looking for.


One thing to note on the Lahaye Millesime wines. The 2008 is a normal disgorgement/release that was aged under crown cap prior to disgorgement. The 2004 is a late disgorgement that was aged under cork. Benoit initially releases the Millesime with crown cap aging and saves the late cork aged bottlings for later, special disgorgement. I find more depth and complexity in his later disgorgements aged under cork. I can’t say 100% if the main factor in this is extra lees aging, cork aging, or a combination, but I think the answer lies more with the combination factor. I only point this out because I’m not sure the 2008 you tasted (aged under crown) is going to ever show similar to the 2004. You would likely need a later disgorged 2008 that was aged under cork to get a wine in a similar direction.

Thanks for posting Jay. Nice seeing you and fun comparing some impressions.

Your point about “air” is well taken for most all of these champagnes. How much will they morph and evolve? 5 seconds of hard swirling won’t do it. Seems like more of a moving target than red & white Burgs (which change plenty!).


Yes, my last table was Taittinger. I didn’t post notes because when I couldn’t tell the difference between any of the wines I knew my palate was shot.

Very interesting, thank you Brad! I suppose the only way to find out is to lay down some of that 2008 and wait.

It was surprisingly easy to miss people. At one point I ran into Richard’s wife and she told me she’d been searching for him for the last hour. And I only ran into a friend from my wine storage as I was leaving the event.

But they had a good number of people. A lot of attendees but it wasn’t horribly crowded. It was worth getting an AMEX card to be sure of getting a ticket.

I just tried using the discount code they gave us to order some of that Miyazaki beef but it didn’t work. I’ve emailed deBragga to ask about it.
UPDATED - they’re working on it

In case anyone else was trying to use the DeBragga coupon it’s working now. Just placed my order :slight_smile: