Last Sunday I had the honour of attending a Champagne tasting organised by Marco Manzoli, in art @vinogodi, at the restaurant La Barrique of Poviglioa charming, remote location in the province of Reggio Emilia. Well, we ate absolutely delicious and very fresh fish! In the cover photo the second: ttuna garlic, pecorino mousse, basil oil and crunchy bread. The oysters were also exquisite, the only thing that didn't excite me were the red prawns and langoustine... but I'm too used to that! First of all, thank you to Marco for inviting me... it was a real pleasure to meet him, I had the opportunity to taste wonderful champagnes and this experience will certainly remain in my heart! Marco has an incredible culture and passion... for those who don't know, he is one of the authors/tasters of Daniele Cernilli's Doctor Wine and an avid organiser of these special tastings with rare, sometimes unobtainable bottles. There were 10 of us, an absolutely perfect number to taste well and talk to everyone. Perfection would have been to be at a round table, but even so I was able to forge relationships with exquisite people and great connoisseurs of good wine! In this regard, the half-French doctor Daniele Guarneri promised to visit me in Monte Isola with my neighbour Lauro Ghizzoni and make me an exquisite tiramisu in 18 minutes! I'm counting on it, eh! 🍨😋😋😋😋😋

Champagne: Dom Pérignon 2008 

AOC | Pinot Noir 52% - Chardonnay 48% | Brut, 5 g/l | 8 years on the lees | € 160

Need to know.  The Vintage 2008, also presented in a limited edition box with the signatures of the two Chefs de Cave, celebrates the passing of the baton between Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon's Chef de Cave since 1990, and Vincent Chaperon, his right-hand man since 2005 and the winery's new head since 2009.

My tasting. It has a beautiful bright straw yellow colour with a fairly fine and numerous pearl. The nose is delicate and fine, with notes of acacia flowers, raw butter, Sedirea japonica, walnut, honey. In the mouth it is intense and consistent, the bubbles are creamy and enveloping. It has a nice acidic backbone and interesting mineral notes just hinted at. The taste of dried fruit is even more intense. Great structure and long citrus finish.

My opinions. Young, very young. To begin to excite me, especially in the mouth, it needs at least three more years.

Champagne: Louis Roederer 'Cristal' 2008

 AOC | Pinot Noir 63% - Chardonnay 37% | Extra Brut, 8 g/l | € 240

Need to know.  Cristal is one of the most famous Champagnes in the world and drinking it has long been considered a status symbol. The 71% grapes come from Grand Cru vineyards. The 25% ferments in wood.

My tasting. It is a beautiful crystalline straw yellow with a fine, numerous and persistent perlage. On the nose, it is less intense and less complex than the previous one, with strong citrine notes prevailing, intersecting with sweeter notes of melted butter, toasted hazelnut, catnip and a slight flint finish. In the mouth it is much more interesting, with a pleasant crisp bubble and a citrine taste that gives it great drinkability while betraying all its youth. Long bitter finish.

My opinions. Young, very young. Very, perhaps a little too much, citrine. However, if the nose did not convince me completely, it has exceptional drinkability! To be tasted again in 4/5 years!

Champagne: Bollinger 'R.D.' 2002

AOC, 71% Grand Cru | Pinot Noir 63% - Chardonnay 37% | Extra Brut | € 250

Need to know. This Maison, founded in 1829, is famous for having as its cellars a network of underground passages that are well worth a visit! Its name R.D. means Récemment Dégorgé, and each bottle is degorged as it leaves the cellar. This vintage is also important for being the 50th anniversary of its founding.

My tasting. It is a beautiful bright straw yellow with golden reflections. The perlage is fine, numerous and persistent. The nose is the materialisation. of my champagne concept, with those intense and complex oxidised notes of great elegance and finesse. Hints of hazelnut, custard, zabaglione, violet, wildflower honey, candied pear, lightly buttered toast fade into a finish of underbrush. In the mouth, it enters softly, with a creamy bubble, but with a marked acidic vein. The finish, quite savoury, is very long and leaves pleasant toasted hints.

My opinions A simply superlative product! It is in no way comparable to Cristal, with which it only shares the same price range. This is absolutely a textbook champagne, the kind I like!

Champagne: Salon 'Le Mesnil' 2002

Grand Cru | Blanc de blancs | Brut | € 600

Need to know. This extraordinary Maison only produces one label and only when the vintage is right. The first vintage produced was 1905. This Maison works with the vigneron of some 20 Chardonnay microplots with plants over 40 years old that give it particularly fine grapes. The chef de cave Michel Fauconnet is the same as Laurent-Perrier, but here the bottles produced do not even reach 60,000.

My tasting. It is a beautiful, bright, intense straw yellow with golden reflections. The perlage is fine, numerous and persistent. The nose is elegant, with delicious notes of white chocolate, vanilla, mint, pink pepper, acacia flowers. In the mouth it is intense, very fresh, perfectly balanced and consistent, with a creamy, enveloping bubble. The finish is very long.

My opinions. A marvellous product, son of a particularly extraordinary vintage.

Champagne: Jacques Selosse 'Les Lieux Dits - Les Carelles'. 2002

Grand Cru | Blanc de blancs | Extra Brut | € 300

Need to know. No grapes conferred by other vignerons: the champagnes signed Jacques Selosse come only from the 8 hectares of estate vineyards in the cru of Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Ay, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and Ambonnay. The 2002 vintage is the first in which biodynamic viticulture was abandoned in favour of a very personal interpretation of vineyard management. The oldest vines date back to 1922: these Chardonnay vines are almost a hundred years old! 😍 The Lieux Dits collection comprises 6 cuvées obtained from 6 different parcels of land that give us a taste of the expression of the terroir. In particular, Led Carelles comes from the Le Mesnil-sur-Oger vineyard.

My tasting. It is a beautiful bright golden yellow with a very fine, numerous and persistent perlage. The nose is very special and elegant, with a very intense note of zabaglione, almonds, pistachios, oyster and raw chocolate. In the mouth it is consistent, ample, with a creamy, enveloping perlage. Its great acidic backbone suggests to me that it has excellent ageing potential. Very long finish.

My opinions. Of all of them, it was the one that moved me the most. I found it simply perfect in its adherence to my personal taste.

Champagne: Billecart-Salmon Le Clos Saint-Hilarie 1999

AOC | Blanc de noirs | Brut | € 390

Need to know. It comes from conventionally managed vineyards planted in clay and porous limestone, in a closed vineyard of only one hectare where only work horses pass through. Vinification takes place in oak barrels. Each bottle is numbered by hand.

My tasting. It is a beautiful old gold colour, with a very fine and numerous perlage. As soon as it was poured it had a strong smell of broccoli, but left in the glass it improved a lot. After about ten minutes the nose is intense, distinctive but pleasant, perhaps a tad cloying. Notes of raspberry jam, cashews, blue cheese and pan brioche intertwine with a rough expression. In the mouth it enters very savoury and increases salivation. The bubble is fine. Fresh, it maintains the rough character found on the nose. Still more pleasant to drink than to smell. Long finish of jammy wild strawberries.

My opinions. A product that did not blow me away, but probably just needs time. For those who like excess, even in bubbles.

Champagne: Dom Perignon Œnothèque 1996

Brut | € 450

Need to know. It can be called a rare bottle, not least because today the Œnothèque line has been replaced by the P2 line. It is not the quintessential line in that the bottle has silver lettering and not gold (there is a substantial price difference between the two, let's say almost double!). The difference? In Champagne, the Œnothèque is the part of the cellar where the old vintages rest... and between this bottle and the one with the gold frieze, there are about 20 years of ageing! In our case, this bottle has spent about 7 years on the lees as is the case with Dom Pérignon Vintage, then it is left with the crown cork and corked. and aged for another 7 years or so. This is followed by a manual degorgement and a dosage in reality extra brut. 

My tasting. It is a beautiful pale straw yellow with a very fine and numerous perlage. The colour already suggests that it has great ageing potential: it is the colour of a baby champagne! The nose is delicate and complex, with notes of hazelnut, cumin, milk chocolate, toast with a veil of freshly warmed butter, dried rose and maracuja. On the palate, it enters citrine and iodine, well-balanced between softness and hardness, very fresh and with a delicious, long finish of candied orange peel.

My opinions. A product capable of enchanting even the most sceptical of this Champagne Maison! Tasted in mid-August, I found this bottle even better and with so much more potential for evolution. No doubt thanks to the storage, which is more suitable than mine which, alas, has been through a few removals!

Champagne: Krug Collection 1990

 AOC | Pinot Noir 40% - Chardonnay 37% - Pinot Meunier 23% | Brut | € 900

Need to know. This bottle is the result of a vintage with a complex climate: first a particularly mild winter, then a spring full of frost and finally a hot and sunny summer. 

My tasting. It is a beautiful deep golden yellow with a beautiful antique gold hue. The nose is intense and very elegant, with those delicious evolved and oxidised scents that I love so much. One recognises dried fruit, jammy strawberries, hazelnut and nutmeg, coffee, candied citron, honey. In the mouth it is full, ample, velvety and still very fresh. The bubbles are creamy. The finish, of butter flavoured with orange peel, is long and enveloping.

My opinions. What wonderful champagne! Certainly the climate influenced the structure and aromas of this cuvée which, for me, has less potential for evolution than others. From a point of view of perfection definitely the best, but to me Selosse continues to tell me something more, I find it absolutely more interesting. But I would drink another glass now, to dispel what I just said... 😍

Only the 1996 Krug is missing from the roll-call, which unfortunately had to be thrown away due to a fungal smell that was as unwelcome on the nose as in the mouth. A shame to pour a bottle like that into the spittoon, but it would have been even worse to drink it! 😅

We didn't just drink Champagne... but since I'm planning an educational article on the Burgundy of the 2 'red children' I'll tell you about it soon!

In short, it was a very special Champagne tasting... that made me fall madly in love with Selosse so much so that I hope to go to France soon to learn more about it. Have you ever drunk any of these bottles? What do you think? I invite you to leave me a comment on the blog so we can compare notes together!

Cheers 🥂

Chiara

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