First, I have several bottles remaining of a six-pack of 1996 Pierre Peters “Cuvee Speciale”. Is this entirely from Les Chetillons? I believe the Les Chetillons designation was first used in 2000, but was the wine the same before that? (BTW, the wine is great, and I regret drinking four of my six bottles so young, planning to hold the last two for a few years.)
Second, just today I bought a non-vintage Peters “Cuvee de Reserve” blanc de blancs, disgorged in June 2011. Would that imply the base wine is 2008? I read on the Shurnik website the following… “What’s in the market now is based on ’06, disgorged 7/09. Coming up is an ’07-based wine disgorged 9/09.” If one could assume that sequence is just a bit outdated, it seems to make sense that the 6/2011 disgorgement is based on the 2008 vintage. That would imply approximately 27 months on the lees. Is that about right? Seems a quick turnaround to me.
Yes, the Cuvee Speicale is all Les Chetillons as was the Special Club that came before it. The June 2011 NV is a 2008 base and it is utterly fabulous in my book. Peters’ best NV since the 2002 base.
The average entry level NV in Champagne sees far less than 27 months of age before disgorgment and amongst those that are more well known, 27 months is fairly normal. Yes, there are a number where 36+ months is the norm, but that is the exception in the big picture (and it doesn’t necessarily mean the wine is better).
What David said; I’ve had them soon after purchase and after some years storage and have never had a NV from PP that was less than wonderful. Gotta try to find some of their other (better?) bottlings, though.
The NV that was the current release in late 2010 was not up to prior years’ standards. Last year’s was better. But you have to check to see which lot is actually being offered. When I was shopping this past holiday season, I was able to verify through an ITB source that some of what was on the shelves in NYC still dated back to the 2010 release; the retailers hadn’t restocked. Aside from storage issues, you’d definitely better off with the 2011 release.
One thing to remember about the NV Cuvee de Reserve Mags (and Jeros) is that they are always the actual Millesime (L’Espirit) and not the NV juice. Late 2010 disgorged Mags would have been either 2005 or 2006 juice (Jeros would have been 2004). The NV Extra Brut is often the Millesime (L’Espirit) as well. Even when Peters doesn’t actually release a Millesime (L’Espirit), it is unofficially bottled as the NV Extra Brut and Mags/Jeros of the NV Cuvee de Reserve. For example no L’Espirit bottlings were released in 2004 or 2007, as it was instead bottled as NV Extra Brut and Mags/Jeros of the Cuvee de Reserve. This makes Mags of the NV Cuvee de Reserve one of the best buys in Champagne. It is only slightly more expensive than two bottles of the NV 750 and around 1.5 times as expensive than one 750 of the Millesime.
I have asked Rodolphe Peters why he does this and his response basically is the he wants to have some fun and give a deal to those who geek out enough to know what is what.
As for aging Peters NV wines, they age quite well. When to drink is a personal choice, but I really enjoy it once it has three years on it.
As far as previous vs. current releases; it is difficult to know what is what just based on shelf dates. Locally, in Detroit, I can pick up everything from the 2003 to 2008 base vintage of Peters’ NV. I would guess that the late 2010 release in NYC would have been 2007 based and the late 2011 release should have been 2008 based. I like both wines and think the 2007 based performed as expected. The 2008 based is killer stuff and one of Peters’ best NV efforts in my book and right up there with the stunning 2002 based NV.
Brad, is it correct that you can tell the year of the base wine from the disgorgement date, if you are dealing with the 750 ml size? I’m guessing the wine is generally bottled in the spring, and the NV is based primarily on the prior year’s vintage, and the disgorgement will be 24 to 30 months after that? So a 2011 disgorgement should imply 2008 base wine?
In general, yes, you can be pretty accurate with getting the base from the disgorgement date. You have to know the producers normal disgorgement and release cycle, but if you do you can get it most of the time. That said, you normally won’t bat 100% without contacting the producer or looking up info from someone who has.
First, producers change base vintages yearly and some disgorge year round. If they disgorge throughout the year and change the base vintage one month, you have a few months where the wine could go either way based on normal calculations like you reference.
Second, There are times where multiple bases will be disgorged at similar times. You really need to look at the importer or market/country the bottle was made for as well. Sometimes one market/country may get a different base vintage than another.
The only real solution is to let consumers know the base vintage in the wine or at least when a wine has changed. Put the info on the label somewhere (this can be done discretely) or give each base vintage blend a name like Krug is considering.
For Peters, the 2011 disgorgements I have run into have all been 2008 based wines, but there may be some late 2011 disgorgements that are 2009 based; these 2009 based, late 2011 disgorgements would probably be France or Europe bound bottles, but that is just a guess.
2008 is a very good year for all grape varieties. Pinot Meunier is the variety that has impressed me the most, but the Chardonnay is gorgeous as well. 2008 is the best vintage since 1996 and is the equivalent in quality to a year like 1985/1990/1995 to me. It is a step up from 2002 (which is a very fine vintage too).
I will be a shill for Brad - his newsletter is worth the subscription price if you like bubbles. Besides CT, it’s the only other wine related subscription I pay for (oh yeah, and WB). You also get a discount if you are a CT user.
The only frustrating part is the fact it’s hard to find a few of the wines he writes about on this side of the pond.
Jennings and Baker are the two reviewers I trust most.
Pierre Peters NV is currently our go-to NV champs and we have enjoyed quite a bit of it over the last 12-24 months. I have noticed a relatively big retail price jump in what is now on the shelfs; i.e. from around $37-$42 a bottle to $47-$52 a bottle. Anyone else seeing this increase?