Champagne tasting

by Michael Alderete on 2/11/2003

Yesterday we hosted a comparative champagne tasting. We selected six bottles of wine, three pairs, and put them in paper bags to serve them blind. We tasted and compared each pair, paused to collect ourselves, and then moved to the next.

Since Rochelle and I knew which wines we’d chosen, and I knew which was which from opening the bottles (in spite of the bags, the caps told all), it wasn’t a completely blind tasting for us. But even so, there was quite a bit we didn’t know, and had to really go on taste, rather than knowing the label, or how expensive the wine was.

This was a once-in-a-blue-moon event, because the wines were all outstanding (most were received as gifts); we’ll not hold such an orgy for a long time, I’m sure!

The wines we tasted were:

A: Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé
B: Gosset Grand Rosé
C: Dom Pérignon 1995
D: Dom Pérignon 1993
E: Veuve Clicquot Brut (yellow label)
F: Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 1995

I won’t attempt to post tasting notes, because my palate vocabulary isn’t that developed. As a group we were disappointed with the rosés, we theorize because they would have gone better with different food. In the middle pair, the Dom Pérignon 1993 was preferred over the younger vintage by most, but the aspiring Master of Wine who attended said that 1993 was not a very good year, and felt the 1995 was better.

In the final pair, and for the tasting as a whole, people were very happy with the standard Veuve Clicquot which was, at $30, the least expensive wine in the group by more than $20.

I was partial to La Grande Dame, but again, I knew which it was, and so I don’t trust my judgment. I am looking forward to someone stepping forward, and hosting a similar tasting where I can be a guest, and prove my choice wasn’t a fluke. Still, at $120 or more a bottle, I don’t know how I could justify drinking La Dame over her country cousin.

Viva la Veuve!

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