Champagne, offline
A remarkable tasting of high end Champagnes

November 29th 2011

This was a fun tasting. A bunch of internet Champagne geeks got together at the Fish Club ( on St John’s Hill, near Clapham Junction, to feast on fish and drink fine Champagne. These events are usually wonderfully informal: everyone brings one or two good bottles, and we share them. Here are notes on all the bottles I tasted. You’ll notice that the scores are in quite a tight band – that’s because the quality of wines of offer was admirably consistent.

You’ll also see the term ‘Special Club’ in some of the names. This refers to the Club Trésors de Champagne (, which is an alliance of 26 growers who make wine from their own grapes. The Special Club bottlings are the finest offerings from these growers, from great years, and have to pass tasting tests as vins clairs as well as after the ageing process.  

Thanks to Champagne expert Steve Pritchard (pictured above, in red) for organizing this event.

Jacquesson Grand Vin Signature 1993 (magnum)
Disgorged 2001. Structured, toasty, taut and alive with powerful citrus fruit and good structure. Pure, tight and mineral, this begins to show ripe pear, nut and honey notes as it warms up in the glass. Really complex and fresh with plenty of life ahead of it. 95/100

Champagne Jacquesson Avize Grand Cru 1996 (magnum)
Tight, fresh and lemony with a bit of toastiness. Very 1996 in style with high acidity. Austere and structured, with some apple and pear fruit and plenty of development to come, I reckon. 95/100

Champagne Mailly Grand Cru ‘L’Air’ 2005
Intensely aromatic, this is a very pure, fruity Champagne with linear fruit focus and nice brightness. 75% Pinot Noir. 92/100

Champagne Bereche 2002
Very rich, intense, toasty style with some oxidative appley notes and evidence of oak. Rich, assertive and slightly rustic. 89/100

Champagne José Michel & Fils Special Club 2000
From Moussy, south of Epernay, this is a blend of 50% Meunier and 50% Chardonnay. Really fruity and generous with pear and white peach fruit. Real finesse here: a very bright, fruit-driven wine that’s quite precise. 93/100

Champagne Bollinger RD 1997 (magnum)
Disgorged in April 2008. Profound, complex and toasty with notes of herb and citrus. Taut and finely structured with a gentle nuttiness. A big, powerful, in-yer-face style, but manages to combine this power with finesse. 94/100

Champagne R Blin & Fils Cuvée Maxime 2002
Toasty, rich and intense with notes of pear, peach and honey. Powerful style showing opulence and sweetness, allied to structure. 92/100

Champagne Joseph Perrier Cuvée Josephine 1998
Taut, toasty, intense and quite pure with good structure and lovely focus. 94/100

Champagne Joseph Perrier Cuvée Josephine 2002
Rich, toasty, lively and citrussy with fresh acidity. Creamy, toasty and bold, this is an intense style of Champagne, showing rich apple and pear fruit. 91/100

Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Premier Cru Chardonnay Special Club 1998
Bold, taut and quite dense with nice citrus fruit. Precise style showing tight citrus character and lovely focus. Very fine. 94/100

Champagne Larmandier-Bernier Premier Cru Special Club 1998
Tight, fresh, lemony and quite structured. Lovely complexity here with some savoury notes and an austere character. 92/100

Champagne Gosset Grand Rosé NV
Ripe, sweet and appley with some strawberry character. Fine, toasty and quite powerful with real finesse and a savoury edge. Nicely complex. 93/100

Champagne Paul Bara Special Club 2002
Warm, complex and rounded with nice toasty notes. Rich palate with good acidity and precise fruit flavours. Very attractive wine. 93/100

Champagne Dom Perignon Rosé 2000
Very sweet aromatic nose with rounded apple and cherry fruit. The palate is herby, complex and open with sweetness and structure. Lovely vinous fruit quality here, showing cranberry and cherry characters. So distinctive. Needs time. 94/100

Champagne Gaston Chiquet Special Club 2002
Fresh, assertive and fine with citrus and herb notes. Taut with nice structure. Firm, precise, showing good acidity. 92/100

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1999
Wonderfully taut and toasty with some biscuitty notes, a touch of vanilla and lovely rich yet fresh flavours on the palate. Finesse is the key. Lovely fruit. 93/100

Champagne Forget-Chemin Special Club 2005 (magnum)
Rich and quite bold with toastiness to the fore, as well as crisp citrus notes. Lively character. 92/100

Champagne J Bassalle Premier Cru Special Club 2000
Complex, toasty and refined with real finesse combined with richness. Nice citrus, pear and peach fruit. Impeccable balance. 94/100

Champagne Vilmart Coeur du Cuvée 1997 (magnum)
80% Chardonnay. Very rich with a nose showing toast, vanilla and spice. The palate is concentrated, fresh and edgy with nice complexity. Sweetness from the dosage works well with the precision and freshness. Lots of potential for development. 95/100

Oliver Horiot Coteaux de Champenois Riceys Rouge En Barmont 2006
A red wine from Champagne. Sweet, supple and smooth with elegant, natural tasting sweet cherry fruit and some nice mineral notes, too. Grainy tannins work well with the sweet fruit. Lovely. 93/100

See also:

Visiting Champagne Bollinger

Published 12/11  
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