When wine from your wishlist turns out to be exceptional, you receive a flood of dopamine and endorphins. Krug and Cristal had been on my list for a long time. Thanks to Elena and Roman, we finally got to taste them. The final scoreboard speaks volumes. Krug and Cristal are by far the highest-scoring wines we tried this year1.
As you can see, not every wine was equally interesting. In my opinion, it would be better to gather in a smaller group2 and taste 3-4 bottles to appreciate and enjoy these delightful drops. Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun. We tasted the first four wines in parallel and blindly to avoid being biased. Were they tasty? Not so much. However, they clearly demonstrated the vast difference between artisan Champagne and mass-market products.
Bollinger Special Cuvée NV
This wine secured the 🏅 4th place in our wine tasting lineup.
Special Cuvée greets me with a simple and rather restrained bouquet. It whispers in pears and croissants baked for the queen's funeral. Thanks to oxygen exposure it breaks from petrification spell to waft with notes of lemon and hazelnut. On the palate, it's round and tasty with some good acidity. The aftertaste makes me think that the agent drives an enormously huge car.
G.H.Mumm Grand Cordon Brut NV
This wine secured the 🏅 6th place in our wine tasting lineup.
Some mediocre Mumm bottles behind my shoulders resulted in low expectations from Grand Cordon. Luckily, there was no room for prejudice as the wine was served blind. And you know, it's nice (price aside). Aye, simple, crowd-pleasing and shy. A sun-kissed green apple, brioche and a few shells. Just to drink, be empty-minded and happy.
Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label NV
This wine secured the 🏅 5th place in our wine tasting lineup.
Just a few years ago I decided to buy this wine. After all, a loud name meets my curiosity. Yet a person I trust advised me not to waste money on the Yellow Label. So I waited for an opportunity to taste it either for free (haha) or at some wine-tasting event.
Long story short, the chance has come. It was served blind, so no prejudice. A generic crowd-pleaser with no character and soul. Which is not bad per se (when the price is right). Plan, round and not fascinating. Citrus, brioche and pears. Not something you remember even an hour after you taste it.
Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut NV
This wine secured the 🏅 7th place in our wine tasting lineup.
Haha, we had to open two bottles because the first was one tired from short ageing (hopefully, not in someone's car). Wafting with scents of honey made by zombees (hehe) and red apple, it was not sexy at all. The red lipstick is there, but the wicked boggy body is a turn-off. With the second bottle, we travelled 80 years to the past. And it was as you would expect it to be. A crowd-pleasing and tasty. If only the price was better haha.
P.S. The rate represents the arithmetic mean of the two bottles.
Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon Rosé Brut 2006
This wine secured the 🥉 3rd place in our wine tasting lineup.
Although it's not my style, I genuinely enjoyed Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006. Wafting with scents of a sweet pipe tobacco smoke (Virginia-based blend?), it's pompous and exploding. Caramel, canned peach, sugar strawberry, blood orange, bay leaf and mushroom-flavoured Mivina. With lovely acidity and volume, it leaves a long and flavourful aftertaste. For this price, there are far better choices, but I am happy about this experience.
Louis Roederer Cristal 2014
This wine secured the 🥈 2nd place in our wine tasting lineup.
A 60/40 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sourced equally from La Rivière, La Montagne and La Côte vineyards. The main crus (see the map) are Verzenay, Verzy, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, Ay, Avize, Mesnil-sur-Oger and Cramant. None of the wine went through malolactic. Around one-third was vinified in wood.
He spills the champagne from his glass onto the floor.
It's fuckin' flat, Norman, that's
what's wrong. The champagne -- the
fuckin' Cristal's fuckin' flat.
– Four Rooms
I tried my best not to quote the Four Rooms movie. A single sniff cleared my mind and I fell in love with this 'beverage'.
Estragon in Champagne? Incredible! Combine it with shells, chalk, crème brûlée, tilia honey, hay, raw yeasty dough, citrus, peach and white flowers. Ultra complex yet approachable, expressive and alluring nose. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, vinous, delicate and multilayered. Racy and wonderfully balanced. The aftertaste is eternal and blissful. It's already delicious today yet I can't help but wonder about its future.
To close the circle, I let it breathe for 30 minutes only to find it flat. So I did what Chester did in that scene.
Krug Brut 2006
This wine secured the 🥇 1st place in our wine tasting lineup.
The first sniff made my heart drop. At the light speed, my brain translates the signal - nothing interesting, a cat-a-strophe. Disappointed, I make a sip and it washes away my mind. It's a small wave on Islay with a promise to become a storm. You just need to wait.
And the wait is rewarding in this case. Krug Brut 2006 offers aromas of dried fruits, pear, nuts, mushrooms, wet cellar, freshly baked bread, and baked apples with honey, iodine and sweet spices. It's racy, incredibly multilayered and concentrated. It could be a tsunami. It could be a spontaneous storm in the mountains. Yet somehow it remains approachable and open, never throwing at you everything it has. The aftertaste is persistent with charming notes of smoke (hence the mentioned Islay). Impressive wine.
Do you want to know the ratings of all the wines from this year's tasting events? Don't worry! I will post them closer to the end of the year. ↩
By the way, I deliberately decided to gather only 10 people instead of 12 for the next wine tasting dedicated to Arianna Occhipinti. And afterwards, I plan to experiment with even smaller groups (up to 7 people). I understand the need to taste more and more, but I feel the urge to slow down. ↩