Champagne tasting

An in-depth look at 39 bottles, including NV, vintage, prestige and grower Champagnes

This was an interesting chance to take an in-depth look at 39 different Champagnes, including Grande Marques, Vintage cuvées, prestige cuvées, grower Champagnes and rosés. There were some surprises, too. It's really helpful to do a side-by-side comparison like this, especially when there's time to really compare the wines. Thanks to Gismondi On Wine for allowing me to crash the tasting, which was part of their annual Champagne focus.


Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV France
12% alcohol. 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier. 10% reserve wines, stored in oak. Three years on lees. Fresh and vital with a lovely bright citrus fruit core. Lemony and fresh but with integrated high acidity. Such purity with notes of white peach and pear. There's a lovely harmony to this wine which combines richness and freshness. Finishes bright with a hint of sweetness. 93/100

Champagne Ruinart Brut NV France
12% alcohol. 50-55% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 5-10% Pinot Meunier. 9 g/l dosage. Stainless steel fermentation and full malolactic. Quite bold and intense with apple and pear fruit together with some citrus and cherry. A rich style but with freshness. Subtle toast and spice, too. Very pleasing and rounded with a bit of sweetness. 89/100

Champagne Taittinger Brut NV France
12.5% alcohol. 40% Chardonnay, 33 crus. Three years on lees. Fresh and vivid with sweet lemony fruit. Nice precision here with a hint of grapefruit and toast, as well as a lively, smooth fruity core. Nice acidity here. Light with some citrus and toast notes, and a touch of sweetness on the finish. Good acidity. 91/100

Champagne Laurent-Perrier Brut NV France
12% alcohol. 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 15% Pinot Meunier, up to 20% reserve wines, sourced from 55 crus. Three years on lees. Fine and expressive with some nice toastiness complementing the bright citrus fruits. This is linear and a bit creamy with lovely vivid focus. Very stylish and bright with a really attractive lemony core to the fruit, and a hint of sweetness. 91/100

Champagne Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV France
12.5% alcohol. Equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. 25% reserve wines, 30 different crus. Fresh, vital, lemony and herby with bright fruitiness. Linear and lively with lovely precision and detail. Has good acidity and lovely purity of flavour. This is really good. 92/100

moet et chandon

Champagne Moët et Chandon Brut Imperial NV France
12% alcohol. Equal parts Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and slightly less Chardonnay, from 200 crus. 20-30% reserve wines. Very attractive and balanced with subtle toast and citrus fruit. There's a nice fine, spicy quality here and some subtle pear and ripe apple adding an extra dimension. Very easy and drinkable. 89/100

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve NV France
40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay. Three years on the lees. Some pear and peach on the nose with a melony edge. Some vinyl, plastic notes intrude a little. The palate has ripe pear and apple fruit with some reductive notes, but not nice ones. Actually a bit unpleasant. 83/100

veuve clicquot 

Champagne Veuve Clicquot Brut NV France
25-40% reserve wines. Predominance of Pinot Noir (50-55%), high percentage of reserve wines, 25-40%, often from five years. Fresh and quite toasty with nice bright citrus and ripe apple fruit. Good power and weight here. There's a bit of cherry richness as well as lovely lemony brightness. There's a hint of herbiness and some toasty depth. Lovely fruit quality here, and it shows focus and freshness. Marmalade hints on the finish. 91/100

Champagne Lanson Black Label Brut NV France
12.5% alcohol. Fresh and really focused with lovely bright lemony fruit, and a bit of sweetness countering the high acid. Hints of apple pie and cream. Subtle toastiness. Really well balanced, combining freshness and focus. 91/100

Champagne Canard-Duchêne Cuvée Léonie NV France
12% alcohol. Very fruity and appealing with brightness and lemon and pear fruit. There's a very distinctive pink grapefruit quality here. Very fruity style with some sweetness on the finish. 88/100

Champagne Charles de Cazanove Brut Premier Cru NV France
12% alcohol. Lively, fresh and fruity with bright lemons and pears. Fine toastiness with a bit of zip on the finish. Has a bit of toastiness here. Lively and focused. Simple and fruity. 86/100

Champagne Barons de Rothschild NV France
12% alcohol. Some toast, pear and marmalade notes here. Lemony and bright with a bit of sweetness. Very fruity and easy, but not very refined. 86/100


Champagne Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV France
12% alcohol. Very fresh with apples and herbs, as well as some lemony brightness. There's lovely length here, with a beautiful elegance to the fruit. So fresh and fine with a beautiful core of acidity and linear citrus fruits. 93/100

Champagne Jean Milan Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV France
12% alcohol. From Oger. Has a distinctive nose with a hint of baby vomit and herbs. The palate has lively focused lemony fruit with grapefruit and pith, with some spicy notes too. There's a tight fruity focus with nice concentration. 90/100

Champagne Moutard Grande Cuvee NV France
12% alcohol. 100% Pinot Noir, three years on lees. Disgorged March 2014. Côte des Bar. 200 000 bottles a year. 10 g/litre dosage. Assertive and fresh with some toast and pear notes. Full flavoured with lively lemony notes. Quite full but very fresh with attractive, developed flavours. Not finessed, but has plenty of personality. 87/100

Champagne Gardet Brut Tradition NV France
From Chigny-Les-Roses. 45% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinot Meunier, 10% Chardonnay. 24-36 months on the lees. Fine creamy, lemony nose. The palate is fresh and detailed with nice lemony, herby, slightly spicy fruit. Has edges. Fresh with good acidity, and an appealing lemony focus. Very bright style. 89/100

Champagne J-M Sélèque Solessence Brut NV France
12.5% alcohol. Based in Pierry. 10% fermented in barrels. 2013 vintage with 50% reserve wines from a perpetual reserve, stored in wood casks. 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Meunier, 24 months on lees. Fresh and detailed with a herby edge to the lemony fruit. Bright and quite refreshing with just a touch of toastiness and ripe apple. Lovely wine with a focused lemony finish. 92/100

Champagne Nicolas Maillart Platine Premier Cru NV France
12.5% alcohol. Mostly Pinot Noir with some Chardonnay. Reserve wines aged in barrel. Disgorged January 2013. Fresh and assertive with a lovely pure citrus core. Refined and harmonious with some white peach richness and a bit of spicy nuttiness in the background. There's a bit of cherry, too. Lovely integrated fruit here. 90/100


Champagne Pierre Paillard Grand Cru NV France
60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 38 months on the lees, disgorged July 2014. Complex, refined nose with sweet, ripe apple and lemon notes. There's a finesse to the palate with fresh, detailed herb, cabbage and grapefruit as well as some pear and apple. Fresh and really complex with lovely detail. A lovely wine. 93/100

Champagne Bauchet Signature Premier Cru NV France
12.5% alcohol. 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir. Attractive lemon and apple fruit with racy acidity and appealing fruit. Lovely lemon and toast notes with a bit of spicy bite. There's a bit of sweetness to the fruit. An attractive fruity style. 90/100


Champagne Devaux Ultra D Extra Brut NV France
12% alcohol. Aged 5 years. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, some aged in oak. 2 g/litre dosage. Very fine and expressive with nice fruitiness. Lively and pure with some nuts, toast and herbs as well as lovely lemony focus. Very bright and zippy with real delicacy and good acidity. 92/100

Champagne Devaux Cuvée D NV France
12% alcohol, 5 years on lees, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, some aged in oak. Powerful and dense with rich nutty, toasty characters. Herb and apple with toast and a hint of cheesiness. A big, lively, structured wine showing keen lemony acidity. Weighty stuff showing nice complexity. 91/100

Champagne Michel Loriot Blanc de Noirs Apollonis Authentic Meunier NV France
12% alcohol. Disgorged March 2016, 9 g/l dosage. Extremely fruity with green apple and lemons, as well as some herbiness. Really expressive and fruity with good precision. I love the bright fruity, slightly herby quality. Long citrussy finish. Benchmark Meunier. 91/100

Champagne Moët et Chandon Grand Vintage 2006 France
12.5% alcohol. Disgorged September 2013. Fine toasty notes on the nose with a palate showing some richer peach notes as well as pear, ripe apple and citrus. There's a slight creamy, bready quality, too. Some cabbage hints, a bit of cherry pie, and a soft, herby finish. Very approachable but also quite serious. 93/100


Champagne Veuve Clicquot 2008 France
12% alcohol. Fresh lemony fruit dominates, with lovely pear and cherry notes joining in. Vivid with some toast and nut savouriness underpinning a lovely direct, pure, fruity core. Bright and delicious with real presence. Fresh, fruit-driven and vital at the moment. 93/100

Champagne Pol Roger 2006 France
12.5% alcohol. Complex, creamy and toasty with some nutty depth. Almonds, toast, pear and peach. Quite a rich style, but seamless and concentrated with some lemony detail on the finish. Satisfying and broad with lovely depth. 93/100

Champagne Jean Milan Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Symphorine 2009 France
12% alcohol. A small family owned negociant. Very fruity and lively with pear, peach and citrus fruit, and a hint of toffee. Nicely fruity and pure with good concentration of citrus fruit on the finish. Just a hint of dairy here, alongside the lovely concentrated fruit. 91/100

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2006 France
12.5% alcohol. Tight, fresh, complex and detailed with subtle toast, white peach, white pepper, yellow plum and lemon notes. Bright and pure with precision and good acidity. Has beautiful detail and brightness, with a core of lemony fruit. There's a bit of toast and honeycomb here, also. A remarkably good wine. 96/100

Champagne Krug Grande Cuvée NV France
12% alcohol. Disgorged summer 2014, oldest wine 1990, base wine 2007, seven years on lees, 12 different vintages. Complex and intense; lemony, appley and herby. Lots of flavour here with bracing freshness and notes of toast, citrus pith, grapefruit and herbs. There's a sweet toffee and toast note adding richness, but the core of this wine is linear, intense, citrussy fruit. Still quite primary, this will blossom into all out toasty richness with a bit of time in bottle. Very tight now, and tighter than I'd expect from Krug. 94/100

Champagne Dom Pérignon 2006 France
12.5% alcohol. Fine, expressive and fruity. Lovely weight here: pear, white peach, a hint of melon. Generous fruitiness and attractive, smooth texture define this wine. A bit of sweetness, too. There's an elegance and purity here, and it's a wine that has some seriousness but also it's so approachable and friendly. Such a good wine. 95/100

Champagne Charles de Cazanove Brut Rosé NV France
12% alcohol. Fruity and lively with mandarin, spice and herb notes, as well as some cherry and wax characters. Very fruity and lively. 85/100

Champagne H Billiot Fils Grand Cru Ambonnay Brut Rosé NV France 
12.5% alcohol. 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. Lots of reserve wines. Appley and bright with some red cherry and wax notes. Pear and wax notes. Quite oxidative and edgy. 86/100

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé NV France
12% alcohol. 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier, 10% Chardonnay. Nice toasty notes here under the fresh pear and red cherry fruit. Lovely sweet fruit here with some nice spiciness. Attractive with some elegance. 90/100


Champagne Pierre Paillard Les Terres Roses Bouzy Grand Cru Extra Brut 12 NV France
12.5% alcohol. 65% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, base wine 2012. 4.5 g/l dosage. Disgorged April 2016. Vinous and fine with lovely cherry and raspberry fruit. Some herbs, with nice texture and depth. Vivid and intense with a pretty personality and some texture. Lovely complexity here: bold and fine. It's a youthful wine but it combines elegance and palate weight. 94/100


Champagne Dom Pérignon Rosé 2004 France
12.5% alcohol. Has hints of sappy, leafy herbs on the nose along with red cherries and pear fruit, as well as a hint of wax. The palate is fruity with some pear and red fruits, as well as wax, nuts and herbs. Complex and refined with a bit of toast, and lovely texture. Complex, broad and delicious. 94/100


Champagne Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé NV France
12% alcohol. A dozen crus, most Grand Crus. Pinot Noir, saignee, 48-72 h maceration after picking. Fresh, bright and sappy with nice red cherry and cranberry fruit. This has nice freshness and texture with a bit of sweetness to the fruit. Fine and satisfying with real finesse and elegance. Benchmark. 91/100

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé NV France
Quite deep in colour. Nice sweet cherry and strawberry fruit here, with some citrus brightness, and nice rounded personality. Very nicely put together with attractive brightness. No rough edges.


Champagne Moët et Chandon Rosé Imperial NV France
40-50% Pinot Noir, 10% still red wine. 30-40% Pinot Noir. 10-20% Chardonnay. 20-30% reserve, 9 g/l dosage. Very fruity and appealing with red cherry and cranberry notes. Juicy and lively with good acidity. Nice pure red fruit character here. Fresh and vivid with a grapefruit freshness. 90/100

Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Rosé 2010 France
12% alcohol. Juicy and lively with focused lemony fruit. Sappy and fresh with cranberry and herb notes as well as a bit of mandarin. Citrussy and herby with high acidity. Very pale in colour. It doesn't work so well, with a bit of pithy bitterness on the finish. 88/100

See also:

Visiting Champagne Jacques Selosse
Champagne Bruno Paillard

Wines tasted 11/16  
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