So here we go. Another year down and another year to look back and think what was so astonishing to drink!
The 13th year started for me with the notion that the likelihood of my drinking excessive amount of champagne was coming to an end. I was ambitious, and I was more interested in just cutting down on booze full stop.
I failed, in certain respects. Especially when it comes to Champagne. But where I failed I realised that the silver lining was in experiencing my own Champagne renaissance, as well as comprehend a few more things about it.
I have tasted a few very interesting Champagnes. I have also drunk a few of those as well, only to realise that tasting is no good for me, and I don't think tasting, God forbid spit, is the right way to appreciate Champagne. Even if one has years of experience, one bottle is the perfect size for one person to actually have the best chance of appreciating the wine.
The 13th year also gave me the opportunity to assess people's motivational choices. My sample was quite small (in psychology this would probably be deemed sufficient) and perhaps a little too mono-cultural but through that I had made some very startling discoveries of that one particular culture. Obviously, various cultures have different attitudes toward Champagne. About that I will talk about in the book. I had the pleasure of talking to other nationalities but one, surprisingly, astonished me. Perhaps in my convoluted manner I made my point addressing my findings in previous entries so I shan't polute this article with it.
So, Philipponnat, Bollinger, Ayala, Gosset, Pierre Gimmonet, Drapier, Pol Roger, Joseph Perrier, Charles Heidsieck, Moet et Chandon and about 20 small producer were all the wines I had the great pleasure of tasting and some of them I drank.
And who stood out of it all? An you will be surprised!
1. Moet et Chandon - this must be the worst Champagne I have ever had. I really don't remember it being so revolting. Why on earth would anyone want to spend money on this? There are better sparkling wines at half the price!
2. Drapier Brut Nature, no sulphites - Blanc des Noirs - WOW! What a wine! Big, bold, beautiful, elegant. Elegantly combining power of pinot noir and rocks a lengthy elegance! These sort of the words I would normally reserve for Bollinger La Grande Annee, but this wine, truly set me back. I have had the vintage and the non-vintage wines from Drapier this year, but the straight pinot noir ROCKS!
3. Ayala really surprised me this year. When I first had it, 10 years ago, I had just found out that Bollinger had acquired the house. The bottle I drank in 2006 would have been put on lees around 2003 and Bollinger had no influence, but when I went to Ayala in February, I could not be more surprised at how high the quality had become. Yes, Champagne tastes slight better in Champagne, so I got a bottle in Dublin, only to discover it was the old label. Normally this is fine, but as I later relayed to the Irish importer, Ayala, needs to be drunk fresh and not bottle aged - age kills the delicate white fruits and lovely flowers!
4. Gosset -Petit Doucer Rose - Extra Dry - This wine encapsulates what I used to dislike about Champagne - pink and sweet. But I have changed and so has my appreciation of Champagne. Nevertheless, I was taken aback by how perfectly balanced, how wonderfully flirtatious, lively, and addictively drinkable this wine was! This wine is most definitely one of the greatest surprises ever since my Champagne records began. Oh Billecart - Salmon Rose has in this wine a serious, a very serious competition!
5. Gosset - Grand Blanc - Blanc des Blancs - I have reviewed this wine shortly after it came out on to the market and in fact I did a dual 'tasting' (drinking morelike) with Vilmart. But how stupid, perhaps too enthusiastic or passionate, was I! I knew that with Gosset I might need to wait a few years for the wine to show its potential just as was the case with my first Celebris but only years showed me how well the wine developed! One of the greatest expressions of Chardonnay I have ever tasted. Burgundy - MOVE OVER!
6. Joseph Perrier - Rose - NV - what are fruity surprise was this! A profound strawberry galore! Nothing more to add! Enjoy!
7. Bollinger - This is not a deliberate attempt to leave the best for last! Bollinger this year ignited the spark of my own Champagne renaissance. And it was Bollinger that sparked my own 'naissance' in Champagne. I might have experienced 'love-at-first-sip' myself with Grande Annee 1995 (that year did not have the definite article) which is of course unforgettable, but when at Bollinger, I notice that one of our company experienced the same. I was chuffed to have noticed it, but now, I just pity the person. To have such a profound life experience and have no other choice but to relegate to memories is a sad state of affairs. This should be enough about Bollinger, although, not entirely wine related entry, but since in retrospect this experience in and of Champagne stood out it would would be unfair to just shelve it.
8. Lanson, Millessime 2000, Blanc des Blancs - One word: SUPER!
THINK, DRINK, BELIEVE CHAMPAGNE!