Champagne Club November 2016

Champagne club time again, this time hosted by Nicki with resplendent views of Sorrento to boot. A reduced range of sparkling wines on offer, down to five from the six we had in March, but in line with a reduced number of attendees. It also hadn’t gone unnoticed that the ability to focus was inversely correlated to the sparkling consumed!

A similar format to last time with one Rose, one Cremant, a Prosecco and two pukka champagnes from the top champagnes houses. First up the Vetriano Prosecco which was served to guests on arrival. A delicate drop with a fine mousse and deciduous fruits (pear, white peach) on the palate – certainly one of the better Proseccos around and would be perfect for a Bellini cocktail.

Dead Soldiers
Dead Soldiers


Next the cremant, again from Limoux, but this time the L’Eglise Saint Martin. Not as good as the St. Hilaire – length a little short and the yeastiness probably not in balance with the citrus fruit. So definitely one to inflict on Christmas guests that overstay their welcome!

An Australian Rose was third, the excellent Taltarni Brut Tache 2011. Creamy texture, nicely balanced and the dosage of pinot noir (giving it that sublime salmon colour) also added subtle strawberry and rose petal aromatics. At around $17 a bottle this should be a stocking filler!

Finally two champagnes from the houses of Belle Epoque and Cristal – although sadly neither champagne was within budget. The Perrier Jouet Grand Brut was an excellent expression of a “red dominant” champagne (only 20% chardonnay) – floral and fruity fragrances with notes of vanilla and butter, and citrus, peach and apple on the palate.

However, to my palate the final champagne of the day, the Louis Roederer Brut Premier, was the pick of the bunch. This one just had the edge when it came to balance – some vegetal bouquet with mouth puckering acid and apple on the palate. A fine mousse and evidence of aging (honey and butterscotch) round this one off as arguably one of the best non-vintage French champagnes under $70.

Wine List

Oenophiles June 2016 – 1990: Australia versus France

1990 Australia versus France
1990 Australia versus France

I was lucky enough to attend a very special tasting thanks (once again) to John Jens and to the hospitality of Bob Winterbottom. The theme – 1990: Australia versus France – and amazingly all 12 wines were from Bob’s personal collection!

The tasting was divided into five flights – two groups of three and then three groups of two to finish. All flights had been designed to test the tasters and wines had been double decanted before the event. And whilst the wines were predominantly Cabernet there were a few curve balls to test the wisest of palates.

Finally, all bottles had cork enclosures – we had two faulty bottles (cork taint and oxidation) out of the twelve. Some Brettanomyces was evident in the French wines but did not detract from the overall quality of the wine.

Flight 1 included the Moss Wood (Margaret River), Mount Mary (Yarra Valley) and Chateau La Lagune (Haut Medoc). All great wines but the Moss Wood was the pick of the bunch for me – well integrated, fruit still present and displaying tertiary characteristics.

And so it continued… Flight 2 included the John Riddoch (Coonawarra), still fruit driven (blackcurrant) and more than a hint of eucalypt, as well as the Penfolds 707 – all vanilla and butterscotch thanks to the lashings of American Oak. Flight 3, the first of the two glass flights, was the curveball pitting an Australian Shiraz (Wynns Michael) against a French Grenache (Pignan, Chateauneuf-du-Pape). Both excellent with the Pignan showing lovely primary red fruit (cherry, raspberry) still but with all the benefits of ageing.

The last two flights included the Comtesse de Lalande (Paulliac), Penfolds Bin 920 (a Cabernet/Shiraz) and the Grand Vin Chateau Leoville Las Cases (Saint Julien). The more refined palates picked the shiraz in the Bin 920 but the pick of the flights (and perhaps the night) was the Chateau Leoville – subtle and restrained, beautifully integrated fruit, hint of pepper and mushroom. Just a fantastic wine!

Such an excellent night and great privilege to taste these vintage wines. And the winning country? 1990 of course!

Champagne Club March 2016

Another Saturday, another tasting! 34 aspiring sparkling wine aficionados gathered in the heat of a Perth autumn to bravely work their way through six sparkling wines. Our host, Sharlene, thoughtfully provided Bellini’s (in the sparkling theme) the get the show on the road and then it was straight into the Santa Margherita Prosecco, which turned out to be one of the crowd favourites.

Sparkling 201603

A light and fruity wine with peach, white blossom and apple, on both nose and palate. Clean finish (and cleanly finished!) and was generally agreed that it will make it onto future cheese and charcuterie menus.

Next up the Mauzac dominant Blanquette de Limoux that had the bargain hunters squabbling for more! One of the best value traditional method sparkling wines around this had deciduous fruit nose and lemon on the palate. Creamy with gentle autolytic characteristics -and clean finish.

The move to the lucky country was not with controversy. The Tasmanian Georg Jensen (a Heemskerk wine) divides the punters, many of whom thought it was over-priced and over rated. Once you knock $10 off for the elegant champagne stopper I believe it displays fair value for wonderfully restrained (chardonnay dominant) traditional method sparkling. 98 points it is not, but good acidity, citrus dominant with a soft, chalky feel I think that the crowd was a touch harsh…

The chardonnay only Charles Orban followed and judging by the level and pitch of conversation, things were getting well oiled. The champagne lovers enjoyed this one and generally agreed that we had made it into the adults only section of the event. From Troissy, this had all the hallmarks of a blanc de blanc, some peach, brioche, butter with a fine petillance.

Wrapping up the formal tasting was the sublime 2006 Moet, a favourite for the hardened Francophiles but not enjoyed by those who prefer a lighter touch. This was an excellent wine, ripened fruits with a hint of pepper on the nose, citrus on the palate (nectarine), maybe some elements of the pinot’s coming though too. Creamy mouthfeel, complex with many moving parts. Just awesome!

By this stage it was time to finish off with an old favourite, the Arras Brut Elite. But there was little point in tasting at this stage as most palates were well marinated!

All prices Dan Murphy’s in a six bottle pack.

Wine Varietal / Type Year Rating Cost
Santa Margherita Prosecco Di Valdobbiadene Glera NV 96  $14.90
Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux Brut Mauzac NV 93  $13.90
Georg Jensen Hallmark Cuvée Chardonnay / Pinot Noir NV 98  $36.09
Champagne Charles Orban Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay NV 95  $38.90
Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Chardonnay / Pinot Noir / Petit Meunier 2006 95  $74.95
Arras Brut Elite Chardonnay / Pinot Noir NV 96  $33.30