Dinner with Jean-Emmanuel Bonnaire

Join us for dinner on July 11th with Jean-Emmanuel Bonnaire (pictured), the owner of two excellent grower champagne houses – Bonnaire and Paul Clouet.

Bonnaire Jean Emmanuel ChampagneAs a special treat for our clients, Jean-Emmanuel will bring a few mature bottles from the family’s personal collection dating from 1982 and 1996. Both were excellent vintages in Champagne.

Bonnaire is based in the Grand Cru village of Cramant, renowned as one of the top terroirs for Chardonnay. And Paul Clouet is located in Bouzy, another Grand Cru village and home to outstanding Pinot Noir.

We’re not the only fans of these houses.  Probably the most notable devotee is champagne expert Richard Juhlin, who introduced us personally to Bonnaire. He has scored some of their champagnes at 98/100 points – as high as legends like 1961 Krug, 1934 Pol Roger and 1959 Cristal.

My private cellar is full of bottles from Bonnaire.” Richard Juhlin

In all, Jean-Emmanuel will be presenting 7 champagnes for you to taste.

The Wines

NV Bonnaire Rose (90 points, Antonio Galloni)
NV Paul Clouet Grand Cru (92 points, Allen Meadows)
NV Bonnaire Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru (92 points, Allen Meadows)
2008 Paul Clouet Grand Cru (not yet rated)
2008 Bonnaire Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru (90-94 points, Richard Juhlin)
1982 Bonnaire Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru (95 points, Richard Juhlin)
1996 Paul Clouet Grand Cru (93 points, Richard Juhlin)

Event Details

Tuesday 11th July
6.30pm – Aperitif
7-9.30pm – Dinner
The Devonshire Club
4-5 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YD

Prices are £130 for a single ticket, £120 each for multiple tickets. Your ticket includes seven champagnes, a three-course dinner designed to complement the wines, and £20 off any purchase of wines on the night.

Order your tickets by email to sales@closcru.com, or message us via the website.


Tasting with Dominique Demarville

By Margaret Elderfield

Ask any chef. The right seasoning is essential to creating a great dish.  And according to Dominique Demarville, the cellar master at Veuve Clicquot, winemakers need their own ‘seasoning’ to assemble great wines.

Dominique was in London last week for the launch of Veuve Clicquot’s 2008 Vintage. In between sharing the latest news from Champagne and presenting the wines, he explained his rationale for reintroducing oak into the vintage wine.

Veuve Clicquot, Champagne, Dominique Demarville

Dominique Demarville

For some time, he had been wanting to expand the range of vins clairs going into the vintage – to have more types of “seasoning” to use “like a chef”. When he is making the non-vintage, he can select from a broad array of reserve wines dating back years. Adding small doses of these complex, characterful wines can bring amazing complexity to the final blend. But to produce the vintage, he is limited to the raw materials from that year alone.

Reintroduction of oak

So starting in 2007, they purchased a range of oak foudres, large casks of 55-75hl in size, with capacity for temperature control. The oak is sourced from French forests in the Vosges, Alliers, Fontainebleau and the centre of France.

Being able to chose from tank-fermented and cask-fermented wines has given Dominique a wider palette of flavours and textures to choose from, with greater complexity in the final wine.

Dominique stressed that the use of oak is minimal (only around 5% of the 2008 vintage wine saw any oak, rising to around 12% for 2012), and he will only consider oak fermentation for the grapes “with the biggest shoulders”, i.e. fruit that can take well to oak without being dominated by it.  In practice, this includes the very ripest grapes, typically harvested early in the vintage and often from the older vines.

To illustrate his point, he poured us several vins clairs from 2015 – Chardonnay from Cramant, Meunier from Villedommange and Pinot Noir from Bouzy. For each village, we tasted tank- and cask-fermented wines side by side. In each case, the cask-fermented wines had subtle but recognisable touches from the oak – slightly more roundness and breadth in the middle palate, and a bit more aromatic complexity. Dominique also likes the greater fruit length from cask fermentation.

Veuve Clicquot, Champagne, vintage

He has no plans to introduce oak for the Grande Dame at the moment. According to Dominique, La Grande Dame is all about the pursuit of freshness and silkiness. He selects grapes with a very different fruit profile than the Vintage.  With the Vintage, he is aiming to achieve power and complexity, as well as freshness and silkiness.

Veuve Clicquot 2008 Vintage wines

The 2008 Vintage overall has given wines of crisp acidity with great delicacy of structure. Dominique believes it will be a superb vintage for ageing potential.

Weather-wise, the early season in 2008 was cool and rainy in the spring.  From flowering onwards there were good weather conditions, with hot days reaching 24-25C, and cool nights of less than 10C.  The harvest at Veuve Clicquot took place from 14th September to 10th October – a very long harvest due to the very favourable weather conditions, so they could pick at the best moment.  In bad years they will be forced to pick fairly early to avoid botrytis, but this was not the case in 2008.  On average, the grapes came in at 9.8 degrees of potential alcohol, 8.6 total acidity, with pH of 2.96.

Vintage Rose is a very important and growing category for Veuve Clicquot, accounting for 30% of all vintage sales (compared with 8-9% for non-vintage).  Dominique even has two full-time winemakers making only red wines. They share a winemaking facility dedicated to reds in the Cote des Bar with Moet.

Veuve Clicquot Vintage 2008 – from bottle
61% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay, 5% Meunier.
Nose: Fresh, with some development. Nutty, biscuity, white peach.
Palate: Lovely texture and mouthfeel. Apple, fruity, yeasty, creamy dairy. Saline minerality. A honeyed quality to the fruit. Complexity and intensity. Drinking well now, sufficiently open. 95 pts.

Veuve Clicquot Vintage 2008 – from magnum
Nose: Very closed in comparison. Apple, lemon, some yeasty notes, but less overt than bottle sample.
Palate: Fruity, some citrus fresh lemon and ripe grapefruit, some more tropical fruit notes, with hint of spice.  Seems too young, not open yet. 93 pts.

Veuve Clicquot Vintage Rose 2008 vintage – from bottle
61% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay, 5% Meunier. Contains 14% still red wine from Bouzy.
Medium salmon pink in colour.
Nose is fruity and autolytic, apple and light red fruits, some apricot. Nutty and bready also, opening to dairy.
Palate: Dominant portion of pinot noir immediately evident. Steely base note, cherries, lemon, apricot. Crisp, mineral with some creaminess. Balanced. Gentle bitterness on the back palate, typical of Bouzy reds.  One to have with food ideally. 93 pts.

Next Vintages and a Superb Cave Privee

Dominique confirmed that 2012 and 2015 will be the next Veuve Clicquot vintages.  He said that although they typically have enough quality grapes to produce more vintage wines, there are no plans to raise the current average of around 3 vintages per decade. This is because they want sufficient quantity of reserve wines to maintain the style of the non-vintage.

To finish, we were treated to a glass of Veuve Clicquot 1989 Cave Privee from jeroboam, disgorged in January 2014. This delicious wine is drinking perfectly now.  It was made by former cellar master Pierre Peters, who confided to Dominique that it was a personal favourite.

1989 Veuve Clicquot Cave Privee – from jeroboam
Disgorged January 2014.
Medium gold.
Mature honeyed nose, with smoky and coffee notes, bruised apple.
Palate beautifully complex and powerful. Honeyed and silky.  Apple peel with tangerine acidity. Finely textured with excellent length of fruit. Lovely bitter twist on the finish. Mature. Autolytic character strong but well integrated. 98 pts.

Veuve Clicquot 1989 Cave Privee with canapes

Thanks to Dominique for sharing so much of his time and his winemaking wisdom. And to all the team at Veuve Clicquot for the delicious Cave Privee and canapes!

Tasting with the Sparkling Winemaker of the Year

By Martyn Zemavicius & Margaret Elderfield
Champagne Henriot Laurent Fresnet

Laurent Fresnet, Henriot chef de cave

Henriot has always been one of our favourite Champagne houses.  Their devotion to quality is paramount and it shines through in their wines, which have an elegant freshness, combined with depth of fruit and beautiful structure.  

Last Friday, we had the good fortune to taste across the Henriot range with their chef de cave, Laurent Fresnet.  Laurent was recently named Sparkling Winemaker of the Year for 2016 in the International Wine Challenge – the winemakers’ equivalent of winning an Oscar.

The wines were presented in different formats – including bottles, magnums and jeroboams – always an enlightening comparative experience.

We began with the Brut Souverain NV, perhaps Henriot’s most well-known cuvee, which we tasted first in bottle then in jeroboam. The Souverain is comprised of around half Chardonnay and half Pinot Noir, with just a touch of Meunier (less than 5%) in the blend.  The reserve wines (around 20%) always include a proportion of the previous year’s base wine, but can also include Grand Cru wine that goes into their vintage Cuvee des Enchanteleurs. Depending on the base year, it can even include a portion of the perpetual blend used in their Cuve 38. Aged for a minimum of 3 years on the lees, with a dosage of around 8-9 gr/L.

The 75cl bottle of Souverain, with the base wine from the 2011 vintage, exhibited a lovely length of fruit with some floral aromas and a touch of creaminess in the middle palate. But the Souverain in jeroboam, based on the 2000 vintage and disgorged only in 2013, had amazing opulence and power.  

Champagne Henriot Souverain Enchanteleurs

Good wines come in large and small packages

Next came the Henriot Blanc de Blancs NV, which recently won a Platinum medal in the 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards.  The grapes for this wine come primarily from the Cote des Blancs, including the Grand Cru villages of Mesnil sur Oger, Avize and Chouilly. Aged for 3-5 years, with a dosage of around 7 gr/L.

The 75cl bottle of Blanc de Blancs came from the 2008 base year, and was disgorged in 2012.  It was a beautifully balanced champagne, with white peach, floral and honeyed apple notes.  In comparison, the BdB from jeroboam with the 2006 base was a more broad affair, and showed a mix of youthful and maturing characteristics, including notes of spice and toasted minerals.

Then we tasted two vintages of Henriot’s vintage champagne, the Cuvee des Enchanteleurs, for 1999 and 2000, both from magnum.  The Enchanteleurs contains only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, exclusively from Grand Cru villages. Interestingly, the 2000 vintage was kept in tank for an extended period prior to bottling, to safeguard the fresher, youthful characteristics as long as possible prior to maturation in bottle.  The Enchanteleurs is matured for a minimum of 12 years before release.  It is not always released in magnum, but when it is they limit production to 1,000-2,000 magnums only.

The 2000 Enchanteleurs from magnum displayed lovely round characteristics, including baked apple and stone fruits, and a toasted nutty character. The 1999 – called “Eclipse” because the Champagne region experienced a total solar eclipse in August of that year – was amazingly well-balanced between opulence and freshness, with incredible length of fruit. Both wines had lovely autolytic flavours of baked patisserie.

We finished with the Cuve 38 from magnum. Readers of our blog will know the great story behind this wine (see our earlier post 38 – The magic number at Champagne Henriot).  In 1990, Joseph Henriot had the foresight to begin a solera-style perpetual cuvee.  He set aside one tank, the Cuve 38, to which he added some of his best Grand Cru blanc de blancs.  Every year since they have drawn off 15-20% of wine from this tank, and replenished it with the best blanc de blancs from that year.  The Cuve 38 is now an incredibly complex blend, with the best of each year’s Grand Cru Chardonnay harvest.  It is released only in magnum (1,000 magnums per year), and aged for at least 5 years before release.

Tasting the Cuve 38 shows what can be achieved with great care, and with time, in winemaking. This is a blanc de blancs of great structure and complexity, with beautifully floral top notes and a mouthwatering saline mineral character on the finish.  It is a champagne of serious quality that would hold its own with many foods, even a post-prandial cheeseboard.

Our thanks again to Laurent and his team for their generosity in setting up this superb and educational tasting!  

Tasting notes for our favourite wines of the tasting are reproduced in full below.

Henriot Brut Souverain NV – in 3L
Equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with less than 5% Meunier. Grapes from 25 crus, most of which are located in the Montagne de Reims and the Cotes des Blancs.  Base wine from the 2000 vintage. Kept on cork and disgorged in 2013.  Dosage 7-8 gr/L.
Complex nose, nutty and earthy. Opulent, rich, powerful and long on the palate. Wow!
92 pts

Henriot Blanc de Blancs NV – in bottle
100% Chardonnay, mainly from the Cote des Blancs. 2008 base vintage. Disgorged 2012.
Floral, white peach, honey and apple aromatics. So pleasant rich and balanced on the palate, with honeyed flavours. Super champagne. 91 pts

Henriot 1999 Cuvee des Enchanteleurs “Eclipse” – in magnum
50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir.  All fruit comes from 6 Grand Cru villages (Mailly Champagne, Verzy and Verzenay in the Montagne de Reims; and Mesnil sur Oger, Avize and Chouilly in the Cote des Blancs).  Only 1800 magnums produced. Disgorged in 2014. 6g/L dosage.
On the nose, rich and nutty, with herbal, baked apple and biscuity aromas.
Opulent, rich and nutty on the palate with balanced acidity. Very long finish, complex and stunning!  94 pts.

Henriot Cuve 38 – in magnum
Bottled in 2009.  Disgorged in 2014. Only 1000 magnums produced in 2009.  From a perpetual blend “solera” comprising vintages 1990-2007. 3.5 g/L dosage.
Incredible complexity on the nose.  Notes of iodine, orange blossom, lemon tart, brioche, croissant and Madagascar vanilla. Stunning palate, elegant and powerful at the same time, with finesse. Floral honey, salted caramel and nutty flavours. Long and complex. Still needs time. 95 pts


Dom Perignon vs Dom Ruinart

By Martyn Zemavicius20160310_231030


Today’s post includes notes from a special tasting we organised in early March that featured two of the ‘Doms’ of Champagne – Dom Ruinart and Dom Perignon.

The idea for this tasting came after our old friend from Moet Hennessy, Jack Dundas, had invited me to a very interesting tasting with the current Ruinart chef de cave, Frederic Panaiotis.  Thanks for the inspiration, Jack and Frederic!


Ruinart has been commercially producing sparkling champagne since Nicolas Ruinart founded the house in 1729, making it the oldest champagne-producing house in the region. (While Gosset, founded in 1584, is the oldest existing wine producer in Champagne, it was not making sparkling wines then.)

Wines from those very early days were sold exclusively in cask, and it wasn’t until 1728 that wine was legally permitted to be shipped in bottle, thus allowing for the sale of bottle-fermented champagnes.

Following financial difficulties, the house of Ruinart was sold to the Moet & Chandon group in the 1960s.  Frederic Panaiotis is the current chef de cave.

Dom Ruinart RoseCrayeres
Ruinart is known for its crayeres – the deep cellars near Reims tunnelled from chalk dating back to Gallo-Roman times – which it has owned since 1782.  Other houses such as Taittinger, Pommery, Charles Heidsieck and Henriot own crayeres in the area as well. But it is widely acknowledged that Ruinart’s are of exceptional beauty.

The Ruinart house style is influenced by chardonnay from outside of the Cote des Blancs, giving the wines a distinctive breadth and body on the palate. The areas of the northern Montagne de Reims around Sillery and Verzenay, as well as the Massif de St-Thierry north of Reims, have been important sources of grapes over the years.  

NV ‘R’ de Ruinart
48% Pinot Noir, 47% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier.
Pinot Meunier was recently introduced to the blend. Frederic intends to increase the percentage, but has no plans to go over 15%. The fairly young reserve wines, usually from the last three vintages, and the high proportion of Chardonnay make Ruinart a storable non-vintage.
Delightfully toasty bread note and a hint of citrus aromas.

NV Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
100% Chardonnay.
2001 was the first release. It now accounts for 20% of total production and is becoming the main face of Ruinart.
Roundness comes from grapes grown in Sezanne and north of Reims. Blended from 20 villages, about 40% from the Cote des Blancs. Only Premier Cru grapes are used.
A lot of floral and exotic notes. This is our favourite NV, and currently like all other NVs it is  based on the great 2012 vintage

NV Ruinart Rose
Chardonnay 45%, Pinot Noir 55%.
The blend includes about 20% of red wine produced with a short maceration, about five days, for fruitiness and freshness.
Wine had a lot of structure, maybe from strong vintage like 2012. With plenty of red crunchy berries.

Dom Ruinart

Dom Ruinart – the house’s prestige cuvee – is the jewel of the house. The first vintage was the 1959, released commercially in 1967.  It was named for Nicolas’ uncle, Dom Thierry Ruinart. A Benedictine monk who lived from 1657-1709, Dom Ruinart was a native of Champagne who impressed upon young Nicolas his conviction that “vin de mousse” (wine with bubbles) had a promising future.

It is made from 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay, typically about a third of which is from the Montagne de Reims, and around two-thirds from the Cote des Blancs.

2004 Dom Ruinart
For two years in a row, this has been our top wine at the annual Champagne Bureau tasting in London.
Incredible structure with floral notes and ripe citrus fruit.

1996 Dom Ruinart
This is the second time we have tried this wine in the past month, and the second time it was corked. Bad luck!
But even through the cork taint we could taste toasted nuts and dried fruit with the smoky 1996 minerality.

Dom Ruinart Rose

First released in 1966. It is based on the same blend as the blanc de blancs, with the addition of about 15 percent of pinot noir that is vinified as a still red wine, with ten days’ maceration to extract more color and tannin.

1998 Dom Ruinart Rose
85% Chardonnay. 15% Pinot Noir.
Only 5 g/L dosage.
What a pretty wine! Lovely floral notes mixed with bags of red fruit. Beautifully balanced and very long. Just entering its drinking window.Dom Ruinart Rose Champagne

1959 Ruinart Rose
80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay.
Made by the Ruinart family before the house was sold to LVMH in 1963. Not only was 1959 the first vintage of Dom Ruinart blanc, and it was also the legendary first vintage of Dom Perignon Rose.
We have been very lucky with this bottle. The cork broke when we tried to take it out. But that’s often a good omen for such old bottles, as it signals the bottle was sealed well.
Colour still had dark red hinge. On the nose it still had some red fruit. Wine was very powerful and with long finish.

Dom Perignon

Dom Perignon was launched by Moet & Chandon as a prestige cuvee in 1936, with the 1921 vintage the first to be released commercially.

Moet had previously made a private release of 300 bottles of the 1926 for one of its English clients, Simon Brothers & Co, to mark their centenary celebrations in 1935. Due to the publicity and demand that this one-off cuvee generated, Moet offered the 1921 vintage the following year under a newly created brand, named after Dom Perignon, the legendary cellar master of the abbey in Hautvillers.

Follow-up releases of the 1928, 1929 and 1934 were also Moet vintage wines, transferred into the special Dom Perignon bottles.  1943 was the first Dom Perignon to be fermented inside its own bottle.

Today Dom Perignon is a unique brand within the LVMH portfolio, kept separate from Moet & Chandon.

Richard Geoffroy, the current chef de cave, has been with the house since 1990. He is among the finest winemakers in Champagne.

In general, Dom Perignon is always made from 8 Grand Crus and one Premier Cru, Hautvillers, where Dom Perignon lived and where his remains are buried.

Moet & Chandon are the largest landowners in Champagne, and that gives the house access to a vast array of vineyards. So even in weaker vintages Dom Perignon can make very good wines.

A typical blend will include slightly more chardonnay than pinot noir, although the exact blend depends on the character of the vintage, and it’s even possible that certain vintages will contain a majority of pinot noir.

2003 Dom Perignon
40% Pinot Noir, 60% Chardonnay.
This wine is all about elegance and power at the same time. Possessing ripe but very well balanced fruit, with minerality and freshness. A masterpiece, considering how hot the 2003 vintage was.

1995 Dom Perignon
48% Pinot Noir, 52% Chardonnay.
This vintage was the opposite of 2003, as classic as it could get. Silky smooth with delicate sweet spice notes, roasted nuts, dry apricots. Stunning.


One of the attendees had commented at the start of the tasting that it would be a fight between the two Doms to see which is better.  But what transpired wasn’t a fight at all – more of a delicious experiment proving that Dom Ruinart and Dom Perignon are two of the best prestige cuvees.  Those who are patient will be rewarded as they age beautifully.

For those of us who cannot afford to drink at the prestige level every day, the NV Ruinart Blanc de Blancs offers superb value, particularly now as it is currently based on the excellent 2012 vintage.


Tasting the Creme de la Creme of Champagne from the 1996 vintage

By Rytis Jurkenas

Over the last few years I have had the privilege of tasting over 100 different champagne cuvees from 1996 the historic and unusual vintage with very high acidity and very high ripeness levels. As these wines have turned 20 years old, by kind invitation of Alper Alpaslan, we met in Dusseldorf in early February for an extensive tasting of the creme de la creme from the vintage.

My general impression is that most of the 1996s are very fresh and youthful, with profound acidity. There was also some typical smokiness, which for me is vintage-specific and sometimes gets very hard when it co-mingles with the scents of the great terroirs of the Cote des Blancs (Mesnil-sur-Oger or Oger).

Here are a few of my highlights from the tasting.  All my scores are given at the end, as well as some other champagnes from 1996 that are worthy of seeking out.

Outstanding – Above 95pts

It was Bollinger’s VVF (Vieilles Vignes Francaises), which took the top spot, and stood out as a wine in its own league. This was my winner of the tasting, with 98pts.  It is already quite evolved, but still possesses great ageing potential.

All of the wines from Krug particularly the the Clos du Mesnil (97pts) and the Clos d’Ambonnay (97pts) were simply superb. They will probably be even better and longer-lived than the 1990 vintage, which shows beautifully today.

The Cristal and Cristal Rose also hit 97pts, and they shared second place with the Clos du Mesnil and the Clos d’Ambonnay. As a reminder, Cristal and Cristal Rose are produced only from Grand Cru communes in Ay and the Cote des Blancs.

With a strong showing in sixth place was Jacques Selosse’s Millesime – a pure expression of Grand Cru Avize terroir – with 96+pts. The Selosse was freshly disgorged in November 2015 exclusively for this tasting, but I have had the privilege of tasting the ones disgorged in 2005 and 2011, and all of them showed the same greatness with excellent ageing potential. I would cellar them for at least another decade.

Excellent – 93-95pts

The second group was led by the very pure Belle Epoque, with 94+pts.  Following closely were the Clos des Goisses, the Comtes de Champagne and Comtes de Champagne Rose.  All these champagnes were showing elegance and youth. It struck me that it is far too early to drink them I would cellar them for another decade. (How fabulous to be able to say that about 20-year-old champagnes!)

Jacquesson’s Vauzelle Terme from magnum is the rarest bottle of champagne I have ever tasted.  Only 100 were produced in magnum and they were never commercially released. The Chiquet brothers were experimenting with the lieux dits concept back in 1996 (before fully adopting it in their winemaking in 2002).  The Vauzelle Terme was young and shy during blind tasting, and I gave it 93pts. But half of the magnum was left to accompany dinner, and it improved enough in the interim for me to raise my mark to 95pts, although it was still far too young.

Very Good – 90-93pts

The third group was led by a shy and undeveloped Grande Dame from Veuve Clicquot and the Saint Gall cooperative’s Cuvee Orpale, which we tasted during dinner. Both were 92+pts, but whereas the Orpale is at its peak and is absolutely ready to be enjoyed, the Grande Dame needs more time to develop fully. In the past few years, I have come across some already fully mature bottles of Grande Dame, so it could be that examples with different disgorgement dates behave differently.

Only a few really tired bottles were below the 90-pt mark, which illustrated not only the greatness of the vintage, but also the true mastery of winemaking in evidence at these houses.

All of my scores are listed below.

‘Creme de la Creme’ Champagnes of the 1996 Vintage

Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises (VVF)   –   98 pts
Krug Clos d’Ambonnay    –   97 pts
Krug Clos du Mesnil
Louis Roederer Cristal
Louis Roederer Cristal Rose
Jacques Selosse Millesime    –   96+ pts
Dom Perignon Rose   –   95+ pts
Krug Millesime    –   95 pts
Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque    –   94+ pts
Philipponnat Clos des Goisses    –   94 pts
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rose
Bollinger Grande Annee Magnum
Henriot Millesime Magnum
Legras R&L St. Vincent   –   93+ pts
Billecart-Salmon Nicolas Francois
Jacquesson Vauzelle Terme Magnum   –  93 pts
Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Millesime
Diebolt-Vallois Fleur de Passion
Vilmart Coeur de Cuvee
Veuve Clicquot Grande Dame   –  92 pts
Co-op Saint Gall Cuvee Orpale
Pol Roger Millesime   –  91 pts
Duval-Leroy Femme
Billecart-Salmon St Hilaire
Pol Roger Winston Churchill
Egly-Ouriet Millesime (oxidation)    –   85 pts
Dom Perignon (oxidation)
Pommery Cuvee Louise   –   all were corked
Dom Ruinart
Henriot Enchanteleurs Magnum
* A footnote on disgorgement – Only three of the champagnes were recently disgorged and brought for the tasting – namely, the Jacques Selosse vintage, Vilmart’s Coeur de Cuvee (both were disgorged at the end of 2015) and the St Vincent from Legras R&L (disgorged a few years ago).

Other Stars from the 1996 Vintage

The champagnes below are also excellent examples from the 1996 vintage, and worthy of seeking out (listed in alphabetic order):

Billecart-Salmon Grande Cuvee
Francoise Bedel Cuvee Robert Winer
Henri Giraud Fut de Chene
Jacques Beaufort Grand Cru Ambonnay
Jacquesson Avize
Jacquesson Millesime
Lanson Millesime Collection
Pol Roger Blanc de Chardonnay
Dom Ruinart Rose
Tarlant Cuvee Louise
Jean Vesselle Troisieme Millenaire Cuvee Prestige Millesime Bouzy Grand Cru


A journey across three centuries of top champagne: 1890 to 2004

Pekka Nuikki as editor of FINE magazines, founder of Tastingbook, wine investor and prodigious author needs little introduction to those with an interest in fine wines. Above and beyond his obvious abilities, Pekka has a real talent for bringing together ultra-rare wines in unique settings which makes for some truly memorable tastings.

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