Taste Champagne Prestige Masterclass
Tyson Stelzer’s Taste Champagne tastings kicked off in Sydney today, with a large contingent of Champagne producers opening their wares at Sydney’s Four Seasons Hotel (Melbourne and Brisbane are still to come. Go to the website for details)
One of the highlights of this Champagne event is the Prestige Masterclass, and I got in early enough to snag a spot at what is one of the best bubbly benchmarking opportunities on the calendar.
And the lineup sure was handy.
That said, it’s always interesting with a tasting like this to see how highly favoured wines stack up against their peers. Too often prestige Champagne is viewed in isolation and treated as some sort of godlike nectar, when, in fact, it is still just another wine (with even more variability)…
These notes are slightly abbreviated, but hopefully you get the drift. The Krug and the R.D really are epic wines. Extra bits in italics.
Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Elisabeth Salmon Rosé 2002
Very light copper. Notable Pinot dominant nose. Vinous. Quite light and elegant, the acidity seems quite prominent too. More acidity than yeast. Frothy and delicate. Maybe it’s too delicate? Crystalline acid. Bloody good rosé. 18/20, 93/100.
Piper Heidsieck Rare Millesime 2002
70% Chard 30 Pinot Noir. No oak.
Green straw. Bread autolysis dominant nose. Very much in the ‘statement’ class with almost cheesy lees. Increased Chardonnay gives this a richness through the middle too. Maybe a little lean on the finish? Very high quality but not a superpower. 18/20, 93/100
Krug Vintage 2002
40% Pinot Noir, 39% Chardonnay, 21% Pinot Meunier!
Super rich nose. Exuberant nose. It’s almost bacony in the richness and even with some aldehyde. Acidity looks superb – soft and real. It’s a massive mouthful. A Champagne ride of a wine. Love the integration of the acidity. Boldness and superb length. A whole extra step in concentration and power. Wow. Difficult to spit. Can I take some home? 19/20, 96/100.
Bollinger R.D. Extra Brut 2002
60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. First bottle was corked!
First bottle corked. Second bottle superb. Love the hints of marzipan from the oak. Builds in the glass too. My this needs so much longer! Aching youth and acidity is so prominent. But gee it’s long. Purity and power. There’s a hint of magic in the background hints of oak. Very concentrated. Grown up as hell. Only overshadowed by the extra weight of the Krug. 18.7/20, 95/100.+
Jacquesson Avize Champ Cain Recolte Extra Brut 2005
Ripe year, ripe wine. Chunky. Bombastic and the acidity seems a rush. Almost aggressive flavours. Not delicate. But has a place. Feels lesser in this lineup with its firm bitterness. A very different shape to this acidity – it’s not soft, natural acid. It’s attacking acidity. Good in other contexts no doubt! 17.8/20, 92/100.
Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Vieilles Vignes NV
Aggressive and quite stemmy. Impressive structure though. An extractive and quite bitter beast. A bit hard for mine. Where is the delicacy? Impressive length but out of step in this lineup and not much joy to drink. I don’t get it. 16.8/20, 89/100.