Last up: 2009 Cristal - Champagne-logue. Ongoing account of vacation wines.

We’re visiting Maui with another couple, who generously shared their hotel suite with us. Marybeth and I brought our A-game, as one of our hosts loves champagne, especially the pink stuff. I’m looking forward to opening a dozen or so bottles over the week. First up… Vilmart, and it did not disappoint!

1999 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Premier Cru Coeur de Cuvée

Another great bottle of ‘99 Vilmart CdC. Still well within its prime drinking window. This bottle was very similar to my last one about a year ago. It has that signature Vilmart density and viscosity, while maintaining nice freshness and balance. I found equal parts pit fruit, citrus, and yeasty hazelnut. The edges are rounder than the younger bottles have had, and there was some sweetness at the finish I hadn’t noticed in the past. The bead was medium, still going strong at 21 years. This bottle paired perfectly with every course at dinner.

Last night, we opened a puzzler.

2004 Pol Roger Champagne Vintage Brut

Wow, has this wine changed dramatically since I last tried it five years ago. Then it was crisp, lively, apples and citrus with a little brioche. Last night, any fruit was beaten into submission with a baguette. One of the most autolytic wines I’ve opened in a while, the dried pear and tangerine flavors were cloaked in yeast.
Besides being bready, this was huge! There’s no need to worry about it being overwhelmed by a hearty meal.
By the end of the bottle, I enjoyed it. The first glass was so different than I expected that I was initially taken aback, much as when taking a sip of iced coffee from my mug when I expected water. The coffee may have been delicious, but the shock almost made me spit it out.

Next up, a bunch of tête de cuvée rosés, and other sensational champagnes I’ve been collecting for this trip. champagne.gif


The lineup, minus the empties (99 Vilmart CdC & 04 Pol Roger).


Looks like you are going to have a fun time. Pol Roger’s Blanc de Blancs tends to go very creamy in a doughy, toasty, yeasty, honeyed way around 12-15 years old. It also can gain a bit or a buttery or mushroomy edge too. Lately, a number of the Pol Roger vintage releases have been a bit unpredictable in terms of aging - meaning they tend to change their expression very quickly. Sounds like your 2004 bottle went this way. Like you, I haven’t had the 2004 in a few years and it was still primary, zesty, and tart when I had it last, but it would not surprise me if this has started to make the change.

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NV Krug Champagne Brut Rosé Edition 21eme - France, Champagne (3/9/2020)
This took some time and coaxing to show its stuff. My main impressions were savory, restrained, shut down. Some red berry and blood orange, spice and sweet floral notes. I don’t recall another wine displaying such a long finish while simultaneously leaving me the impression it’s in a dumb phase. Still, I’m very happy to have a couple more awaiting a future revisit

Hey buddy, totally jealous, although it’s beautiful and sunny here today. Enjoy the vacation. Hopefully when you get home you won’t find all elective surgery has been canceled with every last ventilator in use in the ICU because every patient in the hospital has bilateral interstitial pneumonia. We aren’t at that point yet, so far we just have a run on hand sanitizer and toilet paper in the grocery stores, but reports out of N Italy are pretty grim.

I think we caught the last travel week before serious restrictions and cancellations begin. Scary times.

NV Marguet Champagne Grand Cru Shaman 14 Rosé
Though not terribly complex or persistent, this was energetic and fresh, a good pre-meal or weekday wine. Had I tasted it blind, I would have guessed the zero dosage.

That explains it. I’d never had a bottle of champagne change that much, even after 5 years. Thanks for that insight.

2006 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Rosé Brut
My first Comte rosé. Not surprisingly, this has little in common with its BdB sibling. The color, nose and flavors are intensely pinot driven. Bright ruby hued. Strawberry and blackberry, and a distinct earthiness that reminded me of raked leaves. It’s simultaneously rich and elegant. This showed even better than the Krug 21 eme rosé for current drinking

So envious.


Hawaii,bubbles or both?For me it’s both.

It’s the Champagne. Not Hawaii. champagne.gif

Have the bubbles not the islands [cheers.gif]

NV Georges Laval Champagne Rosé Cumières

Disgorged 2016. Very similar to the first time I tried this. It’s a peculiar rosé. In the glass, a darker ruby than most. On the palate, it’s quite vinous, and has an unusual profile of bitter cherry, strawberry, rhubarb and a medicinal, mineral component. At the table, others’ comments of “cheap Lambrusco” and “cold duck” were unflattering. I found it interesting, but won’t buy again especially considering the price.
Note to self; bring wine glasses to Hawaii; local options are limited!!!

Laval rose sucks. Have had it 4-5 times because for some reason people seem to love it, or the story, or something and they keep bringing it or opening it, but the wine is just flat-out awful. Especially given the price.

Warren, I don’t buy the Laval either. I haven’t enjoyed it. I’d rather drink NV Godme, which for 45 bucks is killer.

Enjoy your trip, buddy. Dig reading the TNs.

I really wanted to like the Laval and tried to give it a chance, while my comrades instantly rejected it. I eventually joined their camp.
Coincidentally, we really enjoyed the NV Hughes Godme rosé we had a couple of days ago. I didn’t include it in my post, but should have. We’ve been opening a nice bottle in the apartment after returning from the beach, then bringing a tête de cuvée out for dinner. Tonight will be Merrimans. I wanted to bring the '09 Cristal, but can’t as it’s on their list. First world problems.
I’m living the upper 0.1 percentile lifestyle on a 25th percentile budget. Turning 60 has led me to more often than not “open the good bottle,” which I’ve heard was advice from Clarence Clemons.

Definitely open the good bottles, and cherish the people you drink it with, too. I follow the same philosophy.

Since we’re going to have to cancel the Champagne trip in 8 weeks, you’ve inspired me to think about doing a Champagne event here at the house sometime in the next several weeks. Hell, if we’re not going there, we can try and bring it here!

Enjoy Merrimans tonight. That 09 Cristal is GENIUS!

As the world seemingly spirals, we’re still opening bottles on vacation and doing our best to be as safe as possible while still being thankful for every day. I should title this “Champagne in the time of Coronavirus,”, a nod to Gabriel García Márquez.
NV Laurent-Perrier Champagne Grand Siècle
At the moment, this bottle shows no sign of age. I’m not sure if it was the '99-'02-'04 version or the '02-'04-'06, although I suspect the former as it had more '04 than '06 character. It was a great bottle. Very fresh and elegant. Mineral laden lemon, lime, white flowers. Our bottle improved with air, and the last glass was the best.