Our monthly wine tasting group, circa 1988, held our annual Valentine celebration champagne event to acknowledge the heart and passion that we all share not only for our loved ones, but all the things in life we`re so deeply passionate about.
For this occasion, our members invite spouses, significant others, friends and basically anyone who cares to celebrate in this fasion. Obviously, the common dominator for all who attend and that brought us all together at some point in time is the wonderful world of wine.
The perfect ambience and the only ever venue for this event is the barrel room in the Santa Barbara Winery. Their winemaker and a good friend, Bruce McGuirre, has been solely responsible for reserving the winery space and even doing all of the set up. I sincerely appreciate all he has done for us over all of these years. Arranging the event has been made minimally effortless with Bruce accommodating us in this stellar way.
All who attend are encouraged to bring a vintage champagne and a small appetizer to share. It is a truly heart felt wonderful evening and after seeing the quality of bubbly and food, it`s readily apparent, all 50+ who attended came prepared to share at a high level.
I did my best to taste every bottle. I know there were bottles I missed. Here are my notes for the ones I did taste:
2006 FRANC BONVILLE BRUT BLANC de BLANC GRAND CRU- consistently one of my favorite current small growers, this had the expected bright acidity, wonderful citrus notes with a touch of spice and a clean refreshing mouthfeel; the flavors expanded and by the time all reached the back end, it reached a grand sustained climax.
2006 JACQUART BRUT- crisp, nice acidity, ripe green apple and lemon zest flavors served up in a medium+ body and palate cleansing texture are hallmarks here; a good bottle of many I`ve enjoyed recently.
2006 LOUIS ROEDERER BRUT NATURE PHILIPPE STARK EDITION- I kept going back to find something that would speak out with this no dosage bubbly; it had a preponderance of saline character all the way through from the aromatics to the finish; it was just so muted and I never did get anything more to make note of; definitely a salty dog.
2006 MOET & CHANDOM DOM PERIGNON- usually, this event has a plethora of the big house`s top champagnes including a few Doms, but this was our only one and it was a treat albeit in a youthful, but so promising state; it has that expected acidity, toasty brioche, spicy, white pepper and salt accent to crisp apple, lemon and lime fruit; basically, it has all of the stuffing to be another fine DP and as usual, it was delightful out of the gate; by age 25, it should be great.
2006 LE BRUN SERVENAY CUVEE EXHILARANTE VIEILLES VIGNES GRAND CRU- this is full on with loads of spice laden fruit and a bit of chalkiness; it is big, rich and forever on the palate [until I moved on toward 10 new bottles that just arrived].
NV PHILLIPPE GONET 3210 EXTRA BRUT BLANC de BLANC- loved the citrus flavors that abound here amidst the fresh baked pastry dough; nice texture, medium to full body and loads of energy; no dosage= very dry.
2005 THIENOT BRUT- toasted cinnamon flavored apple sauce in liquid form; later on, lots of citrus fruit shows up and compliments all before it.
2002 HENRI GOUTORBE BRUT SPECIAL CLUB GRAND CRU- this is made in the full on almost oxidized house style I`ve become accustomed to with this producer`s bottling; it`s a mouthful and has some significant honeyed stone fruit character with peach and apricot especially prevalent; it is full bodied, rich and intense and has a texture likened to thin liquid honey.
2008 POL ROGER BRUT BLANC de BLANC- this showed so well out of the gate; it`s complex and full on with finesse to offset the power; there`s toasty, honeyed ginger fruit flavors hitting on all cylinders and nice minerality coming in by mid palate; one of the finer bubblies on the night exuberating class and sophistication.
2007 COLIN BRUT BLANC de BLANC GRAND CRU- new exposure for me and a delightful one at that; nice expression of fruit with balance and a creamy mousse; good acidty, fresh citrus and some minerals to give it more zip.
2002 LENOBLE BRUT BLANC de BLANC- in magnum; I`ve had quite a bit of this and got what I expected which is major acidity, bright spicy lemon, lime and kiwi notes that accompany fresh cut flowers in the nose which carry on through to the finish; it`s definitely a “bigger” style champagne, but has elegance and charm to balance it out.
1999 PHILIPPE PRIE CUVEE “LOVE FLOWERS” BRUT- 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay; this had an aging gold color with a pink hue almost suggesting a rose; somewhat honey sweetened almond apple notes are prevalent; medium+ texture with a long finish.
2002 RUINART “DOM RUINART” BRUT ROSE- 80% Chardonnay, 20% still Pinot Noir; dosage is 5 gpl; the nose was so inviting giving up tropical, floral and spicy red fruit notes; the taste profile was of Asian spiced raspberry, cherry and a touch of strawberry delivered with a palate pleasing creamy texture spreading out all of the treasures; it went on forever and I almost just stayed contented to call it a night after this one which was absolutely fabulous; eventually my WOTN.
NV PHILIPPONNAT 1522 CUVEE BRUT ROSE 1ER CRU- what a treat and on the heels of the Ruinart, it stood its ground nicely; fresh floral and spicy red fruit notes grace the palate after showing up early in the nose; it was bright, crisp, tasty fruity delicious.
NV BOLLINGER BRUT ROSE- another I`ve had quite a bit of and this followed in the foot steps of its predecessors; really nice red fruit forward strawberry and red cherry prevail all the way through; I served this previously prior to moving into some still Pinot Noir/ red Burgundy and it works perfectly for the segue especially when the fruit profile is close to the same.
2006 PHILIPPONNAT GRAND BLANC BRUT- 100% Chardonnay; dosage 4.25 gpl; this producer continues to shine in all types and styles it puts out; this bottling holds up to the high expected standards; it comes in clear glass and the color strongly infers the bright acidity and pear, lemon and lime notes which actually are prewent; it tastes like it looks and that`s a good in this case.
2006 MOET & CHANDON “GRAND VINTAGE” BRUT-;42% Chardonnay, 39% Pinot Noir, 19% Pinot Meunier; dosage 5 gpl; magnificent bubbly; rich, lush, honeyed toasted ginger laced citrus and stone fruit grace the palate in an easy and welcomed way.
2005 PLOYEZ-JACQUEMART EXTRA BRUT BLANC de BLANC- apples and pears dominate the fruit profile and are graced with a hit of almond and spice; it had nice acidity, a touch of minerals and saline; full body, layered complexity and a creamy mousse completes the deal.
2002 PHILIPPONNAT BRUT BLANC de BLANC “GRAND BLANC”- this was really delightful; it had upfront bright fruity flavors including citrus, a fantastic creamy lush mousse and gained momentum to finish with class and elegance.
2006 GOSSET GRAND MILLESIME BRUT- a winner bubbly with honey flavored citrus, tropical and stone fruit notes, a touch of minerality and a great, expanded mouthfeel; better and better with time which I gave it as I got to it toward the end.
2007 LOUISE BRISON CUVEE TENDRESSE BRUT- 100% Chardonnay; I`ve liked earlier vintages and non vintages from this producer and was looking forward to tasting this one; whether it be bottle variation, the 07` vintage itself or some other factor, this did not show all that well; the fruit was tart and only mildly expressive; in fact, it was bland.
2003 LOUIS ROEDERER BRUT- creamy rich and medium to full body were hallmarks here; it had some pear, apple and peach notes and was delivered in a smooth texture; it faded out after mid palate and lost some of its pizzaz.
2008 LOUIS ROEDERER BRUT- there`s no comparison to the 03` bottle; this has so much more going for it; it had wonderful orange ginger notes, fine acidity, minerality, nice depth and a creamy texture that carried all to a grand finale.
NV JP LAMIABLE BRUT GRAND CRU- 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay; baked apples and pears with a bit of orange zest coming in late highlight this decent bubbly; it had traces of acidity, a touch of minerality and pleasing texture.
NV BERECHE & FILS BRUT RESERVE- 35% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinot Meunier and 30% Chardonnay; 7 gpl dosage; toasty brioche, stone fruit and citrus notes flourish with a backbone of acidity; the body is medium + and it has fine length as well.
2009 DHONDT-GRELLET BRUT BLANC de BLANC 1ER CRU- almond paste wrapped apples, peaches and pears with a pleasant richness and nice mousse make this appealing
I used the expression “common denominator” earlier and the one here at the end of a fine couple of hours was the numerous hugs, smiles and resounding number of clinking glasses shared by all as we collected our things and moved on into the evening.
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