What better thing to do on a cold, February night than to taste a selection of Blanc de Blancs blind? Well, kind of blind - we knew what the cuvées were, we just didn't know what order they were being served in. Which can lead to mistakes, as that little knowledge of what's available can bring preconceptions and affect how you interpret your tasting.
I don't blind taste often enough, though I do find myself designing blind tastings quite often. From my experience, the less you focus on what the wine could be and the more you focus on what you're tasting, the better you'll perform. The three of us tasting all scored 50%, though we didn't get the same 50% right.
Quite a straw colour.
Hay and coconut nose - manages to be exotic and restrained at the same time.
Gentle palate. Creamy with green and red apples that develop caramel notes and a touch of marzipan. Textured and gentle with a long finish that leaves a slightly sweet, powdered sugar sensation. Charming, delicious and harmonious.
My guess: Pierre Péters 'Les Chétillons' Cuvée Spéciale Grand Cru 2002
Wine: Pierre Péters 'Les Chétillons' Cuvée Spéciale Grand Cru 2002
Again quite pale, silver.
Nose more apple-y and forward.
Palate quite balanced, luscious but with good acidity. Soft. Possibly a touch of dirtiness. Short.
Immediately pleasing, but doesn't hold up with air, sadly, and falls apart after about an hour.
My guess: Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000
Wine: Delamotte 1999
Darker. Feel this has a bit more maturity than the others.
Lean nose that seems a touch disjointed. Bit dirty.
Loud on the palate with big mousse and a lack of balance. A bit of teenage Champagne rambunctiousness.
My guess: Delamotte 1999
Wine: Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000
Just the very beginnings of brass on the edges of rich gold.
Clotted cream, apples and a hint of toffee on the nose.
Rich palate that is just starting to caramelise with age. Initially quite simple, though. As it breathes, complexity reveals itself with bready, textured mouthfeel and more expressive fruit. The other wines shut down a bit as the night went on, whereas this just got better and better.
My guess: Pol Roger Chardonnay 1996
Wine: Pol Roger Chardonnay 1996
The most disappointing of the bunch was the Comtes, and it increased my conviction that 2000 is not a great year in Champagne. The Pierre Peters was delicious, though that powdered sugar finish still has me scratching my head. Regardless, they're a grower I recommend seeking out, as the wines are compelling from entry level up to the top. Delamotte's continued inconsistency frustrates me, and the next time some wanker from Corney & Barrow waffles on about how 'it's basically Salon', I shall have to be restrained from punching them in the face.
The Pol's another story all together. On the one hand, it was easily the best wine of the evening. On the other hand, it took about three hours of breathing time for that to become apparent. Now, the folks I taste Champagne with are strange, and we are more than happy to let a bottle breathe as needs be. But I would venture that we're the exception. Champagne tends to be cracked open and drunk, often in haste, which is, forgive the rhyme, a waste. That said, I have a hard time telling someone to open a bottle and let it sit for three hours.