Friday, December 30, 2011

Champagne – Published 09.12.11

I love champagne! I know sparkling wines made in New Zealand in the same style as those from the Champagne region, the home of bubbles in France, are very good and always rate highly in tastings but there is something just a little ethereal about the real thing I just can’t resist.
Last week I was in heaven at a champagne tasting. Imagine the chance to taste a range of champagnes from three premium producers including three that come with a price tag of over $200 a bottle with one hitting $450. Now this is way beyond my wine buying budget so it was a real treat to be able to try them and see if they are worth the money – and I can report the ultra-premium wines absolutely are worth the money if your budget can stretch to it for a special occasion. 
Casa del Vino hosted the New Zealand representatives for the fine Champagne houses Louis Roederer, Taittinger & Bollinger and each had a small selection available for tasting paired with delightful finger food prepared by Hopgood’s Restaurant.
Ju Mannering from Negociants presented two wines from Bollinger along with another couple from Ayala. The Ayala Brut Majeur NV was refined and had just enough creamy sweetness to make it oh so drinkable. With a retail value of about $100 a bottle Bollinger NV Brut is the wine we have for special celebrations and I guess because Sari and I have been to the House of Bollinger we have a soft spot for it. While we enjoy this wine having the chance to try the premium Bollinger La Grande Année 2002 Vintage Prestige (RRP$199) was too good to turn down. With a quite firm brandy character this was a sensational match with Hopgood’s chicken liver parfait.
Juliane Cormier from Eurovintage was there to present Champagnes from Louis Roederer including a stunningly good value for money sparkling wine made by them but produced at  Roederer's Californian vineyard - Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut NV (RRP $39.95). This is as good as sparkling wine gets when it isn’t made in Champagne. However for me the wine of the night was the Louis Roederer Cristal 2004 Vintage Prestige (RRP about $450). This wine is so refined and elegant that when you taste it, it simply explodes into a mouthful of champagne mousse in your mouth. I can understand why this is so expensive, it is a stunning wine.
Finally Doug Campbell from Vintners presented a range of wines from Tattinger and my favourite here was the Tatttinger Les Folies de la Marquetterie NV ($120 and 5 stars, No.1 Cuisine Magazine, Nov 2011). Beautifully rich with a touch of fruitiness and a very long dry, satisfying finish with flavours that linger in your mouth for a very long time. I think this will be the wine we see New Year in with this year because I would rather share one bottle of excellent wine than three bottles of good wine.
All of these wines are available at Casa del Vino along with some very fine New Zealand made sparkling wines. Ann has something for everyone to celebrate with this holiday season.

I have been drinking

te Pa 2011 Sauvignon Blanc - RRP$19.95 - $21.95
This first release from the MacDonald family owned vineyard has set a very high benchmark. It has just been awarded 5 stars and named the top wine for the Cuisine magazine 2001 Sauvignon tasting following on from a Blue Gold award at the Sydney Top 100 wine competition. Intense citrus aromas are reflected in the flavours where crisp lime and passionfruit characters dominate while the very long finish has a first burst of minerality. A stunning wine for the price.

Mahi Boundary Farm 2010 Sauvignon Blanc – RRP$29.00

Fermention in French oak barrels using wild yeasts then aged for a further 11 months in the oak makes this a complex, seductive little temptress with power and weight to impress. Soft nut tones compliment the lime and capsicum characters nicely. This style of sauvignon blanc can be aged quite happily for a few more years.

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