I recently attended Wally`s 26th annual Marque Champagne tasting held on the grounds of the JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot located on the beach. How I stayed away for 25 years is beyond me, especially for the last 10-15 years or so with my collection focus more concentrated on champagne.
There were 27 Champagne houses and 7 new world sparkling wineries represented on this day. Most poured at least 2 wines and 2 poured as many as 6 [Taittinger/ Louis Roederer]. There were 4 tete de cuvees [09` Dom, 09` Cristal, 06` Salon and 06` Comtes de Champagne]. Krug poured a special MV Grande Cuvee.
I was fortunate to go with a good friend who had been there, done that and he had the routine all scoped out. So after checking in and getting a glass and a list of all of the houses and their wines being poured plus a map of where they and the food purveyors were located, we headed for our first stop.
Salon. From past experiences, he tells me Salon Les Mesnil pours out quickly so we headed there only to discover about 40 other people had the same idea. We waited 15-20 minutes by the poolside location before getting to the station and it was worth it. The 06` was singing beautifully. The nice and elegant 07` Delamotte was also poured and tasted although I have had it before.
The next table was Taittinger and they had much to taste from the entry level MV La Francaise to the 06` CdC. I tasted the delicious MV Rose and the CdC and found it to be as good as the 20 or so bottles I’ve already sampled and happy to have a 6 pack remaining in the cellar.
We then journeyed inside to where Dom Perignon and Krug were situated next to each other. A good friend was pouring the Dom and my glass was not quite big enough, but additional pours throughout the event translated into drinking a lot of 09` Dom which became mu house wine on this occasion. At this same table, MV Ruinart BdB and Brut Rose, both long time personal favs and house wines were offered and accepted.
Krug had to be next and how special was it that they were pouring 3 litre bottles of the MV Grande Cuvee Brut 159 eme edition which I`d never knowingly had. It was not shown on the label as the more recent editions are, so I may have had it as I drink as much Krug as I can, both at home and with my 3 wine group`s. BTW, the 159 eme edition is the 21st of these and had an 03` base with 88` being the oldest vintage in the blend. I also had a splash of the delicious MV Brut Rose.
Now that I have a glow on, I have even more ambition to seek out other treasures and Cristal has to be one of them. In fact, it was the next stop and look who is pouring at this table with the LONG line? A few weeks ago, I attended a Cristal dinner in Santa Barbara put on by a local wine shop and skilfully headed up by a former wine sales rep who is now working for a group that represents many estates including Louis Roederer. I gladly accepted a nice pour of the young and spry 09` which I had and bought at that dinner. I moved on never to return due to the LONG lines.
What`s left of the biggies? Well, it the next echelon or 2 down, but still worthy of a taste. 07` Billecart- Salmon Extra Brut Grand Cru, 05` Charles Heidsieck, 06` Henriot, MV Grand Siecle La Cuvee from Laurent-Perrier, 09` Blanc and Rose from Moet-Chandon, the infrequently released, 8 times since 76`, of Piper-Heidsieck`s 02` Rare, 08` Pol Roger, Veuve-Cliquot 08` Blanc and Rose and the Black and Gold Labels from Lanson.
I missed a few that I knew about. The 09` Belle Epoque Brut by Perrier-Jouet; the remaining wines at Louis Roederer including the 12` Rose, 09` Bdb and 09` Brut; Philipponnat`s Brut Reserve Rose and a few at Drappier including their NV Brut Nature Zero Dosage and NV Brut Nature Zero Dosage Rose.
I also missed a couple of houses that were unfamiliar to me such as Eric Phillips and Franc Pascal.
There were numerous food stations, but I only nibbled on a couple of interesting bites as we had a group of 7 going to the nearby One Pico Restaurant located in Shutters on the Beach. We did take some wine, but not one bottle of champagne.
This event epitomises for me the realisation of the ole adage, “Drink what you like and like what you drink”. Indeed.
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