A medium-sized tasting at "my place", Delissimo. It was a great tasting, but I will say that almost every wine deserved to be tasted at a tasting half the size. Spend more time with the wines, give them more air, allow people to follow a couple of glasses over time. My rule of thumb going forward is going to be 4-5 people, 4-5 Champagnes.
Bérêche et Fils, Montagne de Reims, Brut Reserve, n.v.
A rising star located in the northern part of Montagne de Reims, this is a blend of all three major grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Meunier). None of Bereche's cuvées go through malolactic fermentation and the non-vintage cuvée is comprised of 30% reserve wines. When I was first introduced to Champagnes, the toughest style for me to come to terms with was the style this wine brings to the table, with its baked apples on a slightly oxidative nose. This wine intrigues me intellectually and I enjoy it viscerally on the savory and broad palate. Imported by Bourgogne Crown.
Michel Gonet, Côte des Blancs, Les 3 Terroirs, Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, 2013
A fairly large, venerable name from the Côte des Blancs, who own all the vineyards their grapes come from (which isn't that common, as larger firms buy at least some of their grapes). The style here is different than the previous wine's, for obvious differences: the terroir is different and the wine is made of Chardonnay only. The style here is wildly disparate. You won't find Bérêche's slightly oxidative baked apples, and the yeast-cum-brioche on the nose is more distinctive. It feels young and direct. The wine immediately following it is a vast improvement, for obvious reasons I'll go into.
Michel Gonet, Grand Cru Mesnil sur Oger, 2012
The previous wine was comprised of grapes from the villages of Mesnil sur Oger, Vindey and Montgueux. This, however, is pure Mesnil sur Oger, arguably the greatest Champagne terroir. And also, 2012 is the greater vintage. I would expect the better vintage to show younger and rougher, but I think the greater contribution from Mesnil sur Oger, and maybe a better inherent balance in 2012, makes for a wine that is more intense yet, at the same time, more elegant, than the Les 3 Terroirs, with less obvious rough edges. The yeast and brioche are more subtle, so the umami character of the wine is more pronounced. Gonet is imported by Cheers.
Larmandier-Bernier, Terre de Vertus, Premier Cru, Blanc de Blancs, 2013
The last affordable vintage cuvée from one of my favorite houses, from the Côte des Blancs again. Larmandier is a master of low dosage, which he applies to carefully raised fruit that is always rich and ripe, yet balanced. Thus, the wines are always full and broad, with great focus. The Vertus has zero dosage and is complex, focused, ever changing (the nose gyrated from chalk to shells to green tea), detailed, salty. One of the best wines of the night. Imported by Eldad Levy.
Moussé Fils, Vallée de la Marne, Special Club, 2012
This is one of the more unusual wines of the tasting. First of all, Vallée de la Marne is considered the third Champagne sub-region in terms of quality, certainly in terms of renown. More importantly, Cédric Moussé is a Meunier specialist, rare to begin with, and this is the only Special Club made today of pure Meunier in all of Champagne. As for the wine itself, I was disappointed. It has the breadth and depth and the nose has originality going for it, a sort of salty caramel which I've never encountered before. The palate is more focused, but one-dimensional despite, or because, of its size. The house's holdings are based around the village of Cuisles, which is classified as Autre Cru, which is the base classification in Champagne. Assuming the classifications still reflect quality, and are not biased against the Marne, perhaps the wine is not designed to be drunk at ten years of age? Or maybe the wine suffered the most from being meted out in single glass portions and little time to let it develop? At least one participant, with very good palate and taste, told me he loved it. Not imported.
Gramona, Gran Reserva Cava, "Celler Batlle", 2007
This Cava joker (which was added to the lineup both for comparison's sake and to witness firsthand the impact of long lees aging) is a blend of 75% Xarello and 25% Macabeo that spends some ten years in bottle with the lees. The rule of thumb for ageing sparkling wines on their lees is that long aging gives endows them with greater depth but at the cost of longevity post disgorgement. Luis Guiterrez from Wine Advocate loved the wine in 2018. As 2023 approaches, we experienced something that reminded me of a white Rioja, but with bubbles. And not a white Rioja on par with Heredia, say. The nose stumbles like a one-legged lumberjack, the palate as flat as his dismembered prothesis. I doubt I'd buy it even right after release. Not imported.
Roger Manceaux, Cuvée Heritage, RD, 2009
This blend of 60% Pinot Noir from Mailly and 40% Chardonnay from Taiss in Montagne de Reims was disgorged in September 2019. While it wasn't really one of my stars of the evening, it was still in a better place on the post-disgorgement curve than the cava. Not imported.
Léguillette-Romelot, Clos du Montdorin, 2015
Champagne actually allows six grape varieties. This is a blend of the other three: Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Pinot Blanc. It's an interesting curio, and very charming, but I think something about its simplicity only goes to show why the three varieties are so rarely encountered. Not imported.