Saturday, 29 December 2012

A social media tasting of sparkling wine and Champagne

In mid December 2012, I attended the plush surrounds of Circa, The Prince, to taste, talk and "tweet" about a group of sparkling wines with a relatively newly formed tasting group, Imbiber Melbourne established by fellow WSET diploma student Caroline Tunnell-Jones and Ben Hosie.  It is similarly modelled I understand to tasting groups operating in Sydney and Brisbane, namely Spitbucket and Swirl Sniff Spit, respectively.  The atmosphere was engaged and the tasting well organised with handouts saving much research.  Despite the apparent paradox of social media here - being seated with company for the purpose of typing away on an iPhone or equivalent about the wines - I found the session quite interesting and interactive, and it was nice to put (real) faces to names.


I've already reviewed a couple of the wines that I tasted at this event separately - the Hoddles Creek Blanc de Blanc 2010 and the Domaine Chandon Prestige Cuvee 1996.  These wines proved too interesting and divisive (in the latter case) not to write about immediately.  Here are my thoughts on the other, mostly no less interesting, wines.

Dominique Portet LD Brut Rosé NV, Yarra Valley
A blend of 60% pinot noir and 40% chardonnay, fine bubbles, aromatics of flowers, rose petals and straw.  A palate that is dry, with medium length, high acid and a creamy mousse.  Moreish.  Good

Abv: not recorded
Price: $28
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://dominiqueportet.com
Tasted: 2012

Domaine Chandon Vintage Brut 2009, various sources
A blend of 50% pinot noir, 47% chardonnay and 3% pinot meunier, and sees 7g/l of dosage.  Lemon in colour.  Aromas of apples, pears and a bit of biscuit.  Principally fruit driven.  Finishes dry, with straw, apples, pear and soda water.  Well made identifiably Australian sparkling if a bit unexciting.  Good

Abv: not recorded
Price: $35
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://chandon.com.au
Tasted: 2012

Clover Hill Tasmania Cuvee NV, Tasmania
A blend of 56% chardonnay, 37% pinot noir and 7% pinot meunier.  Winemaker Karina Dambergs is also a fellow WSET diploma student, and happily makes some good wine.  Lemon-white in colour.  Lemons, apple, quite pronounced intensity of aromatics and fine bubbles.  On the palate, stones and a creamy mousse.  I thought it a bit of a "step up" in quality.  Good

Abv: not recorded
Price: $32
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.cloverhillwines.com.au
Tasted: 2012

Clover Hill Vintage 2008, Tasmania
Lemon-white in colour.  Muted aromatics of biscuit, integrated straw and lemon citrus.  Firm acid on the palate, initially a little rough, but shows balance and straw characters with time.  I did though marginally prefer the NV. Good

Abv: not recorded
Price: $50
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.cloverhillwines.com.au
Tasted: 2012

Arras Vintage 2004, Tasmania
A blend of 66% chardonnay and 35% pinot noir, with 9g/l of dosage.  Lemon-white in colour.  Quite lemon zesty aromatics, with a bit of yeast, minerals, soda, wood and oak.  On the palate, yeast, creamy mousse, straw, apples, balanced and medium length, maybe a bit more.  The best of the set so far, showing some more complex yeast characters.  Good to Very Good

Abv: not recorded
Price: $70
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.bayoffireswines.com.au
Tasted: 2012

Taittinger Brut NV, Champagne
A blend of 60% pinot noir and 40% chardonnay.  A surprise packet here.  Perhaps it was because I tasted it after the preceding group of Victorian and Tasmanian sparkling wines, but it certainly stood out.  Lemon in colour.  Aromas of yeast, biscuts, apple, citrus, wood and straw.  Creamy mousse on the palate, well made and classically styled.  The other table disliked it.  The same bottle too.  Perhaps they had been reading W. Blake Gray's comments here and here.  Good to Very Good

Abv: not recorded
Price: $85
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.taittinger.fr
Tasted: 2012

Laurent-Perrier Brut NV, Champagne
A blend of 45% chardonnay, 40% pinot noir and 15% pinot meunier.  Lemon, biscuit, yeast and a muted intensity of expression.  The palate showed as quite lemony and with high acid.  A fairly average  showing from a wine I usually have no complaint with.  Acceptable to Good

Abv: not recorded
Price: $85
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.laurentperrierus.com
Tasted: 2012

Pol Roger Brut NV, Champagne
A 33/33/33 blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier with 12g/l of dosage.  If you have read this far, the remaining 1% appeared to be vegemite.  Very yeasty aromatics.  Quite overt.  Creamy mousse, lemons, minerals and fell a bit short on the palate.  Good

Abv: not recorded
Price: $85
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.polroger.com/english/
Tasted: 2012

Pol Roger Vintage 2002, Champagne
A blend of 60% pinot noir and 40% chardonnay, with 8g/l of dosage.  Yeasty again, with old oak there too.  Lemons and a creamy mousse on the palate.  Classically styled.  Good to Very Good

Abv: not recorded
Price: $135
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.polroger.com/english/
Tasted: 2012

Vazart-Coquart Brut Reserve Blanc de Blancs NV, Champagne
Surprisingly enough being a blanc de blancs, this is a 100% chardonnay.  Aromatics of yeast, bread, apple, with its chardonnay character evident.  On the palate, high acid, lemon, quite a lean and austere style, supplemented by minerals and wood.  Feels like it needed more love to thrive.  Good

Abv: not recorded
Price: $79
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.champagnevazartcoquart.com/uk/home/
Tasted: 2012

Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Clos du Mesnil NV, Champagne
This was probably my wine of the night.  Aromatics of yeast in a medium intensity expression.  The palate has peach, high acid, classical style, good length, elegance and comes together well.  In a word, "balanced".  Very Good

Abv: not recorded
Price: $70
Vendors: Check http://www.wine-searcher.com/
Website: http://www.champagne-peters.com
Tasted: 2012

Champagne Fleury Saignée NV, Champagne
Biodynamically run, this rosé Champagne has aromatics of yeast and rose petals.  Rose petals carried throug to the palate.  Nice mousse and quite fruity.  Good

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