The rooftop patio atop our penthouse is a very rare and special place as attested by many who have frequented it. It has an unobliterated 360 degree view of Santa Barbara including the local mountains with partial ocean views and we have furnished it for extreme casual comfort which demands use including for entertaining and we have obliged over the years. It had been way too long since the last time so I conceived a food catered, high end champagne event that 13 of us enjoyed recently.
For this occasion, I provided Riedel Overture Red wine glasses as opposed to the restrictively narrow Riedel Vinum champagne flutes in order to allow for more aromatics and in the glass evolution.
On this night, we were graced with a glorious summer evening of pre and post sunset auras and an almost full moon rising. We sipped great champagne and ate a wondrous assortment of appetizers over the course of the evening.
Champagne With A View Fête Friday August 24th, 6:00pm
* Goat cheese + fig bites
whipped goat cheese. fig jam. pumpernickel toast
* parmesan puff pastry
* potato chips + caviar
oyster on the half shell
apple horseradish slaw
* ahi tuna tartar
* roast beef crostini
horseradish chive cream cheese. European multi grain
* mini profiteroles
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
It is my MO to great every house guest with a glass of champagne upon arrival and for this occasion I chose to serve a magnum of Bollinger Brut Rose. Many in this group had tasted this lovely rose from magnum when I took another bottle to a dinner last November.
NV BOLLINGER BRUT ROSE- 62% Pinot Noir, 24% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Meunier; over 85% of the wine comes from Grand and Premier Cru vineyards and 5% of still Pinot is added; a hint of toasty brioche blends in with the spicy red raspberry, red cherry and strawberry fruit and is delivered in a silky texture all the way to the back end; stunningly beautiful rose.
With our plates properly prepared, we proceeded to drink quite well with the following in the order poured:
1995 CHARLES HEIDSIECK BLANC des MILLENAIRES BRUT- at the end of the evening, this turns out to be one of the top bubblies on the night; it just took one sip for me to realize this was very special and the more I tasted it, the more I loved it; the color was yellow gold; the nose was so inviting with fresh and fragrant floral and citrus fruit notes; on the palate it gave rich lemon, lime and green apple notes with a streak of spice with all staying the course for a grand finish; it had a creamy mousse to add to the sensory pleasure; I’m thinking, this can hold its own amongst the big boys, some of which are forthcoming.
1995 VEUVE CLICQUOT LA GRANDE DAME BRUT- based on a blend of eight Grands Crus traditionally used for this wine, the blend is dominated by 62.5% Pinot Noir grapes which come from Ay in the vallée De la Marne, and Verzenay, Verzy, Ambonnay and Bouzy in the Montage de Reims; the 37.5% Chardonnay grapes come from vineyard plots in Avize, Oger, and Mesnil-sur-Oger in the Côte des Blancs.
Our bottle, as with many others from 90`, 95`, 96` and 98` in the past few years, was heavily and sadly oxidized beyond my tolerance level.
2000 PLOYEZ-JACQUEMART LIESSE d`HARBONVILLE BRUT- initially this came off as being on the light, wimpy side of things with muted aromatics, suppressed taste and a thin texture; I’m about to toss it and decide to go back for one more sampling and lo and behold it`s a new and improved version with more pronounced citrus notes, a streak of minerality, bright acidity and a rich and creamy feel good texture. Amazing evolution in the glass. I’m thinking this would not have occurred in a flute.
The Liesse d`Harbonville is the tete du cuvee for this house and is always the same general blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Primary fermentation takes place in casks and without ML.
2002 PIPER-HEIDSIECK RARE MILLESIME BRUT- 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir with just under 10 grams of dosage and vinified in stainless steel tanks with full ML; this was a lovely bubbly with toasty brioche and ginger accents to the ripe stone and tropical fruit notes delivered in a creamy testure; it was rich and full bodied and had vibrant acidity; it seemed to expand on the palate and finished on a high note.
MV KRUG GRANDE CUVEE 166 eme EDITION BRUT- the code on the back label was #117006 which tells us it is a blend of 140 wines from 10 different years with the oldest being 1996 and the youngest 2010; it received its cork in the winter of 2017 and was made from 45% Pinot Noir, 39% Chardonnay and 16% Pinot Meunier; this is the latest of the Editions and my first exposure as I’ve had all from 158 eme in the last few months; although really young and still working on reaching its certain to be achieved sweet spot, it had much to be proud of with the requisite toasted dough, ginger, all-spice and mild nutty notes providing accents to the lemon, lime, apple and honeydew melon fruit; it had classic Krug feel, richness and length and just teased of the treasures to come.
MV KRUG 20th eme EDITION BRUT ROSE- the back label code #215041 tells us it is a blend of 45 wines, with 2007 the youngest and 2002 the oldest, received its cork in the spring of 2015 and is made from 45% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Meunier; additional information: it was composed around an early harvest in 2007 and was completed with 10% traditionally macerated Pinot Noir red wine from the year. Ultimately, the wines of the year made up 68% of the final blend. They added reserve wines to gain more diversity, length and character.
Tasting notes: the pink red bottle label and neck band replicated the wine`s pinkish hue as well as the color of the rose petals and red raspberry found in the aromatics; on the palate, it had a nice spicy streak with fresh mild strawberry and red cherry fruit; it was elegant and expressed more femininity; I’m thinking our bottle was somewhat closed and tightly wound.
2007 PHILIPPONNAT CLOS des GOISSES- 65% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay; as indicated on the back label, it was bottled in June 2008 and disgorged in September 2016 at 4.5% g/pl; this bottle was consistent with one that I had recently; it is absolutely fabulous; fresh citrus dominates the aromatics and continues on in the taste profile along with spice, ginger, saline and more specifically, lemon zest; it had a medium full body, a creamy mousse and all of the treasures staying the course through the finish; I liked that it was not sweet; it`s nicely acidic which should allow for ageing and a lovely mature expression; I liked that it was not sweet.
2006 TAITTINGER COMTES DE CHAMPAGNE BLANC de BLANC BRUT- here comes this fabulous CdC again and I did not bring it but I sure enjoyed it as I have many over the last few years [and I just purchased another batch with 6 in the cellar]; this bottle had some toast, smoke, spice, citrus and stone fruit notes and a bit of mineralality in the background; it had bright acidity, was full bodied and completely sensorially satisfying; there was only a touch of sweetness which is another thing I love about this wine in that the dosage has been touted to be in the 9 gm/l area, but it is not cloyingly sweet.
2005 LOUIS ROEDERER CRISTAL BRUT- nicely evolved and ready to please, the hallmark was it beautiful balance; it had the requisite toasty brioche as well as some talc and sandalwood and wood spices to enhance the citrus and stone fruit notes; it was full on, had a creamy texture and long finish; basically, it was the complete package and the best 05` Cristal I’ve had to date.
2008 LOUIS ROEDERER CRISTAL BRUT- my 2nd bottle [and 3rd taste] of a big stash I opted for; the 1st one was tight and barely giving and certainly not emblematic of any of the hype it has received; this was more like it with even a deeper yellow color, more inviting aromatics, a bigger fruit profile and creamier texture and all of this in 2 months time [or a bottle variation of immense proportions]; there were a few other folks present who sampled the 1st bottle with similar thoughts so, when we all tasted this one, we simultaneously had that eye to eye twinkle of acknowledgement that this was closer to the real deal.
1998 MOET & CHANDON DOM PERIGNON P2- this was brilliant; it`s one of the best of the formerly called Oenotheques I’ve ever had, suggestive of the 75`, 90` and 96`; the strong nose included citrus, spice, toast and ginger; all continued on and were joined by more specific lemon zest, white peaches, grapefruit with an unexpected distinct streak of vanilla; it was seamless, full throttle, energetic and yet had great finesse and so much charm; no other wine on this night came close to matching it for sheer pleasure; WOTN.
More about the plentitudes: As older vintages rest on the lees in the cellar, it does not improve steadily as might institutively be expected and as many wines do. Instead it remains relatively flat for years at a time and then when nature has had her ways, makes a quantum leap to a new quality plateau, where it again remains flat in terms of improvement for many years. Internally, the staff at Dom Perignon refers to these leaps as “plentitudes,” and have concluded that they occur just three times. The first plentitude takes about 7-9 years and results in the Dom Perignon most of the world knows, having made its first big improvement. The second happens after another 10 years or so, the third in another 10 years or so (these times are very subject to nature). After the third, there are no more leaps but rather a slow and steady improvement, at least up to the nearly 100 year point they are still trying. Dom Perignon that is not resting on its lees never experiences the second or third plentitude.
2009 MOET & CHANDON DOM PERIGNON BRUT- a dear friend was pouring this at Wally`s Grande Marque champagne event in LA a few moths ago and it was my house wine for the day as I kept going back between other stops because I could and it was pretty good albeit quite young; obviously youthful and no where near maturity, it still has some redeeming qualities to offer while it gets it together during its journey toward magnificence; major acidity, lemon and lime notes with a toasty brioche accent show up and sustain; I really don`t feel all that bad about robbing this cradle.
2012 PIERRE GIMONNET GRANDS TERROIRS DE CHAMPAGNE SPECIAL CLUB-100% Chardonnay; this was very crisp and refreshing with lemon, lime and apple most prevalent among the fruit notes; it had stark acidity, a spicy element that came in about mid palate and bit of tartness on the end. Try again in about 15 years.
1979 CHATEAU GILLETTE SAUTERNES- 750 ml; check out the color on this sweetie; it`s brown orange and I`m thinking severely oxidized- its not even close; served up in a thick honeyed texture, it is redolent of intense and super ripe and sweetened peach and apricot nectar; a little sip will do ya or at least me just fine.
We had a fabulous evening and one that I shall be sure to repeat. One suggested doing this annually and I’m in. As the ole saying goes, “You can never have too much champagne”.