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December 10, 2001 • The Hye Life

Have we ever met a Champagne we didn't like? Not recently. In terms of the overall quality of the field, the panel was thrilled. Any one of these wines would be a pleasure to drink again and it was quite a challenge to choose among them. While the possible point spread for 10 wines by a unanimous nine-member panel would be from 9 to 90 and average results from 20 to 75, these wines fell within a spread of 37 to 63. Host Tim Pashayan provided food accompaniment in a wide palette of flavors from traditional Armenian appetizers that included Basturma, Baba Ghanoush, Keyma, Sojuk, peppers, assorted cheeses and pita. The bubblies handled all, from delicate to spicy, with great aplomb.

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Champagne panel thumbnail.
Wines are Judged Equal within Recommendation Category and Listed Alphabetically by Brand
* indicates a second or third party web page
Vintage Varietal or "Name"
Appellation, Vineyard
TASTING NOTES: Color; aroma; flavor; body;
balance; finish. Varietal composition. Summary. ($ paid)

KEY: consensus (flaws?)


Charles Ellner 1993 Seduction.Charles Ellner
1993 "Seduction" Millésimé

Light straw color, very tiny bubbles, not very active; yeasty, apply and caramel aromas; appealing, very delicate green apple flavors; good body, rich, creamy mouthfeel; very good balance, crisp, slightly tart; lingers well. Blend of 75% Chardonnay,25% Pinot Noir. Very nice, elegant wine in a good-looking package. ($50) WEBSITE

Deutz Brut Classic.Deutz
Brut Classic
Cuvée 2000

Light straw color, very active, very small bubbles are persistent; complex, floral, perfumey, apple cider and caramel aromas with hints of malt, yeast and autolysis; big, rich, complex, fruity, apple cider flavors; pleasant mouthfeel, not very expansive; balance is crisp, slightly tart; slightly sour finish lingers somewhat. Blend of 38% Pinot Noir, 32% Pinot Meunier and 30% Chardonnay. Very complex and flavorful. ($32). WEBSITE n/a

Laurent-Perrier Brut.Laurent-Perrier
(nv) Brut

Light straw color, tiny and very active bubbles; fruity, citrus, biscuit dough and woody-toasty aromas; clean, delicate, almond flavors; very light, soft mousse, creamy; good balance; lingering finish. Blend of 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier. This wine has balance, texture and a lovely style. ($30) WEBSITE


Bollinger Special Cuvee.Bollinger
Special Cuvée

Light straw color, small, barely active bubbles; vinous, slightly yeasty aromas with a hint of cardboard; deep, light fruity, lemony flavors; rich, creamy, expansive mousse; crisp, tart balance; long, Granny Smith apple finish is slightly astringent (sour?). Blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier. Very slightly aggressive compared to this group of wines. ($28) WEBSITE

Jacques Selosse Origine Brut.Jacques Selosse
(nv) "Origine" Blanc de Blanc Brut

Medium straw color, tiny bubbles, very little activity; ripe fruit, caramel and slightly yeasty aromas with slight autolysis; very nice entry flavors; creamy, slightly expansive mousse; balance is slightly tart; finishes long, but a little flat. Composed entirely of Chardonnay. Very nice wine with quite modern packaging. ($50) website n/a

Michel Gonet Brut Reserve.Michel Gonet
Brut Reserve

Light straw color, very small bubbles, very active; very delicate, attractive, complex, floral, yeasty, biscuit dough aromas with slight autolysis; attractive sweet almond, older flavors, somewhat creamy; expansive mousse; good balance, slightly tart; lingers well. Blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. This wine, although dry, seemed sweetest of the lot. ($30) WEBSITE

Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut.Perrier-Jouët
Grand Brut

Pale gold; very small bubbles, very active, persistent; clean, floral aromas with hints of yeast, toast, autolysis (petroleum? mustiness?); pleasant, very fruity flavors; somewhat creamy, slightly expansive mousse, a little coarse; crisp, good balance; medium long finish. Blend is "dominated by white grapes." A couple of comments about odd elements here, but consensus said another enjoyable wine. ($24) WEBSITE

Pommery Brut Royale.Pommery
Brut Royale

Light straw color, tiny bubbles, barely active; floral, citrus, light yeast and sweet apple pie aromas; very light, delicate, clean flavors; slightly creamy, expansive; balanced; finish lingers somewhat, a little flat. Blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier (percentages not disclosed) and approximately one-third Chardonnay. The house of Pommery has revved up its marketing program recently, leading with this delicate entry. ($42) WEBSITE

Taittinger Brut La Francais.Taittinger
(nv) Brut
La Français

Light gold, tiny bubbles, not active; complex, toasty, cidery, maple nut, caramel and yeasty, biscuit dough aromas with a hint of autolysis; bread, citrus and oaky, toasty (burnt?) older, mature flavors; full body, not much mousse; tart balance; long finish. Blend of 60% Pinot (Noir? Meunier?) and 40% Chardonnay. The slightly burnt flavor bothered some tasters and lowered this quite different and controversial wine in the rankings. ($35) WEBSITE

Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin Carte Jaune.Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin
(nv) Brut
Carte Jaune
("Yellow Label")

Light straw color, very small, active bubbles; very light apple, fruity aromas with a hint of caramel and autolysis; very delicate (flabby?) flavors; light body, mouth-filling, creamy, very expansive mousse; crisp balance; finishes slightly tart with very persistent tingle and zing. The blend is "dominated" by Pinot Noir, with Chardonnay and "a touch of" Pinot Meunier. This wine, a perennial group favorite, in this case concentrates its appeal in its wonderful texture. We want it all: where's the yeast? ($30) WEBSITE

This Panel included Regulars Kevin, Deanna, Glenn, Marlene, Jon, Jim, Ron, James, and Guest Tim
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