Friday, 7 September 2012


I am late! I am late with writing about the last ICD. Any excuse? Lack of inspiration to write!

But not lack of inspiration from drinking.

Ten years after I resumed, in fact fully immersed myself in, drinking Champagne I changed my mind about what I was going to drink and took a chance on a recommendation from a shop assistant and bought two bottle of a small producer.

One, I thought was a straight blanc des blancs but when I tasted it was a very unusual Chardonnay but I doubted what I tasted. The colour had pinkish hue, the nose was earthy and big, the taste was robust, the impressions were of Pinot Noir not of Chardonnay. Three glasses in, and I could swear it was Pinot but I dismissed the notion because all the time at the shop the assistant was telling me it was a straight Chardonnay, but just as I poured the fourth glass I looked at the label and realised that it was indeed a Pinot Noir.

A few weeks later, I met up with someone who had been in the hospitality industry for years and knew the ins and outs of it in Norway. I know very little, save the results of my limited research. Despite my research or his validating experience, I was told something interesting: 'In Norway sommeliers (and laymen too) prefer  smaller producers to the big ones'. He stated the reasons why that was so, which were mostly regarding the production ethics.

Whilst I can understand the reason behind the professionals' attitudes toward smaller producers, when a layman is actively encouraged to drink the same wines as the professional and dissuaded from experiencing the big one, I strongly object! Of course, objection of any kind in Norway, let alone strong ones, are frowned upon.

I think it unfair that taking advantage of someone's ignorance for financial gains, and I am not naive, it impairs the layman's ability to assess wines intrinsically.

Why do I think that? Simply, the big ones, Grande Marques, are big for a variety of reasons. Their production extents over at least dozen of decades and the knowledge and expertise is passed on with the view of maintaining individual style. Not only there is a greater proven record of the variables of vintages, but, with generosity, four decades, don't compete with in the case of the oldest house, 251 years of experience. Of course trends have changed among other things but the 'CHAMPAGNE' buzz is essentially based on those brands. The big brands have more capital to invest into the sources, the training of wines, extended contracts of growers etc.

The most important aspect however is the end user. What does he know? How much does he drink? How much does he earn? I often face the objection of money. I was a student when I started exploring Champagne, and to date I maintain a view that students are the richest consumers of alcohol.

At any rate, a layman would have to drink at least 100 liters of Champagne a year and dedicate a enormous amount of time and funds to learn about the big names of Champagne. While for a professional, the big ones are unexciting at times, nevertheless, they already have the experience of the big ones while the layman, with credit, has only little experience. To devalue the professionals, it is not often the case where an average professional would drink a full bottle on his/her own and experience the development of the wine after opening. A layman must bear in mind that a professional often looks for flaws in the wine, and they have to encompass the entire world of wine to give a layman some idea of what it is they are about to purchase. And at last, it is the big ones that established the mark up on Champagne that the professionals make money on, so no wonder they will recommend the best they can for their pocket with the notion that their recommendation has to live up to the expectations of the layman, but on what experience are the expectations of a layman based?

Bottoms up!

Friday, 20 July 2012


Another Gosset today. Well not exactly. This entry has remained in my drafts since Christmas.

I found a bottle of Gosset 95 very unexpectedly and was I happy! Yes of course I was! My favourite vintage and my favourite producer too! However I cannot say that on the first few occasions I was impressed! But this time, I cannot say I was disappointed.

Although with Gosset the Grand millessimee is beyond Celebris on many accounts, Celebris is evidently made with future in mind. This wine was first tasted in 2002 then in 2005 and then in 2011. And what more can I say other than some Champagnes show their beauty with age!

Notes of honey and nuts with exquisite taste of lemons gave the wine such life in 2011 that even Bollinger's RD could not measure up, in fact not even Louis' BB 88. As if it were saying : 'I might have matured/developed, but I am full of life and nowhere near retirement' and for 95 harvest it could not have been a better statement!


GOSSET (Vs) VILMART - well not really!

Ok! I admit! Comparisons never work!

And it is true!

I chose for my evening two companions, the long awaited Gosset's new baby, its NV Blanc de Blancs and Vilmart's Grand Cellier D'or 2006.

Yes, you're right; a non vintage along with a vintage? Perhaps a move against all reason but still I bought the two and felt it was important and even more so, interesting to run a duel tasting!

So as for Gosset: I cannot emphasise more how much I love Gosset, however the blanc de blancs isn't quite what I had hoped the cellar master would conjure but, and with Gosset there is always a 'but', I will die before I see this wine develop in a bottle or on lees. It is an impressive Chardonnay with the standard nose of one, perhaps a little more mineral but alas nothing too out of the ordinary. And the 'but': My god it will age spectacularly!

Vilmart on the other hand 'hello baby!'. Seriously, this one has a nose of a very strange character, I cannot really make up mind whether it is powdery (like some frangrances, yes odd I know) somewhat mushroomy, a little off, tad rummy, somewhat notes of milk and a little caramel, with a hint of bailyes. And after a while the nose develops slightly and a facet of a slight tinge of rose water comes in!

So if your Champagne experience gets a little too dull, then go against all one would anyway :)

and which one won? I shall save the answer for later; ask me again in 10 years!



When I sometimes discover wines which over the years became my favourite my usual dilemma (what am I going to drink?) is resolved.

As you know the time I spend in wine shops has no limit. Today, for instance, I could easily sleep amongst all the bottles and feel so at home there! Perhaps a wrong idea but still!

Anyway, one day before Christmas I walked into the shop and spent at least 45 minutes for all the bottles to speak to me. And when I cast my eyes on Louis BB 2003 it was set! It turned out to be more expensive but hey....

Let's get the facts right. So we know that all Louis BB regardless of vintage deliver something very interesting and showcase masterfully the character of the vintage it is released. I would refer to previous entries on BB by Louis and also review the article about 2003 by Bollinger.

To sum up, 2003 was impressive vintage and an interesting one too, but why did I find Bollinger's 2003 and Louis very similar?


Saturday, 7 July 2012


Yes it is true! The bold declaration, strangely enough mostly in capital letters, on any label of Champagne as we know it can only be applied to the fizzy stuff.

But! There is not just the fizzy stuff made in our favourite patch of the wine world.

Years have I been looking, albeit not actively, for the red wine made in Champagne called, and as such, having its own appelation, Coteaux Champenois.

I found couple of producers from Champagne making wines under the aforementioned appelation and naturally with a bottle of Champagne in one hand I reached out for the more expensive one of the two that were in the shop.

I opened in a few minutes ago and my first reaction was 'Corked'! Bugger! The corked smelled as though it was but the wine did not taste very much like a corked one as the over powering smell of griotte liquor came through like a slap! I recalled pickled cherries in rum and dark chocolate which is a box of chocolate of very distinctive flavour and aroma. But the wine gives the impression that it has too much alcohol in it, which of course it does not as it is half a per cent below classic Champagne.

The wine is from Ay. Home to the likes of Gosset, Ayala, Bollinger and it is classified as Grand Cru.

The body is pronounced and the aromas big it does not lack softness. My first conclusion is that perhaps it is not the ultimate favourite and I would prefer the classic Ay Champagnes however, I can really see how some  people can find this tipple immensely appealing! Cheers Jazz! :)

Thursday, 2 February 2012


The naughties have been over for over 2 years but we still managed to taste some very good tipples of the 90s. 09, 10, 11 were the best years for Champagne not so much in the fact that the vintages were good but  because of the recession that hit the world and that Champagne suffered in that the good stuff was left unconsumed by all the bankers that were laid off.

But this jolly years were eventually going to end. It is 2012 and if we manage to lay our hands on something from the 90s (mostly latter years of the decade) is now becoming a matter of luck or funds as those years will have gradually moved into the realms of later disgorgements of vintages of most houses.

The more accessible stuff now available is anywhere from 2000 to 2006 vintages and some small houses have already released 2009 (I hope I am wrong in what I have written yet, my eyes do not often fail me). Which is still a bad thing as some of the vintages will fair at nearly 10 years of bottle age as opposed to i.e. 95 released in 2002.

One thing that is noteworthy is that we are now into the 3rd decade of since 1990 and I have not heard that any other vintage since would have been as good....well, actually 96 was pretty close but not same.

It has not even been a month, since someone played Evita on spotify and I noticed the year in which it was released and commented on the 1996 that last time I saw 1996 written like that it was on a bottle of Champagne.

So may this decade bring something just as good at least as 95, 90, 96. In truth global warming might not help, and even if there turns out to be a year to be remembered in Champagne we will not have the opportunity to indulge in it for at least another decade. Will be this the limbo decade for Champagne?

I have started to taste some of the recent releases up to 2004 and I cannot say I have been overwhelmed! (yet)