Champagne Grand Tasting: Old Friends and New Discoveries


In London they have a Champagne Grand Tasting every year. Why is this the first time it’s come to the US? This year the New York Champagne Grand Tasting was held in a beautifully decorated, small ballroom at New York’s Plaza Hotel.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the finest champagnes I sampled:

Alfred Gratien Brut Rosé Classique, tons of acidity
Ayala Brut Majeur NV, with good acidity and not overwhelming
Ayala Blanc de Blancs 2004, still needing some more time to develop
Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Brut, very restrained
Boizel Brut Réserve, classic balance with a nice floral touch
Boizel Brute Millesime 2000, light and well integrated
Boizel Brut Rosé NV, also very well balanced
Bollinger Special Cuvée NV medium light, lighter than I remembered
Bollinger Rosé NV, similar in profile to Special Cuvée NV
Bollinger La Grande Année 2002, lemony and light, more yeast than agar
Gaston Chiquet “Tradition” Brut NV, complex and medium-light
Gosset Brut Excellence, smoothly excellent
Gosset Millésime 2000, spice from lees, baked yeast nose, not too huge
Gosset Grande Réserve, round flavors structured, lemony finish
Henriot Brut Souverain NV, a good, hearty mouthful
Henriot Brute Millésime 1998, astonishingly light, age felt mainly in the finish
Lanson Black Label Brut NV, lots of toasted oak
Lanson Brut Rosé NV, gold-red salmon color, would be good w/ smoked salmon
Philipponnat Grand Blanc 1999, smoky, yeasty, asks to be served with dinner
Pierre Gimonnet et Fils 1er Cru Brut NV, honeyed, finish so dry it’s almost chalky
St. Chamant Blanc de Blancs Brut NV, medium body, easy to drink
Stephane Coquillette 1er Cru “Carte d’Or” NV, well-made on the dry and lemony side
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2000, elegant with toasty yeast, orange
Thienot Rosé NV, nicely dry
Vilmart & Cie “Grand Cellier” Brut NV, complex aromas and flavors floral to salty

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