This is an archive of tasting notes from participants in the UK wine forum, with notes from before 2005








UK Wine Forum - Champagne

Notes from participants in the UK Forum are added in chronological order.

03/04 1990 La Grande Dame - Veuve Cliquot
A very light gold, the honeyed nose showed sweet green apples and a deft caramel touch. Delicate and with a good length, the very enjoyable palate showed some light red plum fruit. 91/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/04 Veuve Clicquot 1989
Gorgeous champagne, fine tight mousse with a flowery biscuity nose, very good depth and balance and a lot of style.Excellent. Disappeared very quickly. (paul redfern, UK)

02/04 Champagne Special Club Brut 1995, Henri Goutorbe
Beginning to turn golden in colour. Quite fine bubbles rising in the centre of the glass. Slightly nutty with sea breeze and lemon whiffs. Initial bright mousse and quite lively in the mouth, followed by rich and complex flavours of nuts and toast and honey. Finish is medium rich and lingering acidity at end. Very good quality and seems to be indicative of most recent 1995's that they are beginning to come out of their shell and rise to their peak. Drink now - 2015. (Paul Anderson, UK)

02/04 Pol Roger 1996
Clear. Pale, straw. Pronounced fruit intensity on the nose. Aromas of toast, lime, white currants and a whiff of chalk/limestone. On the palate it starts out surprisingly softly. Before tasting it, I expected the general high acidity level of the 1996s would show a more restrained wine. Medium-bodied, which also surprised me as this is a blend (if this was a blindtasting, I would have guessed Blanc de Blancs...). By and by, the acidity level came through - it is high, but delicately balanced and refreshing acidity. Pronounced fruit intensity on the palate - an attractive touch of lime zest first, then toast, white currants and what we call winter apples in Norway (riper fruit than say, Granny Smith). And wood sorrel. (To me, wood sorrel is high-acidity Barbera in plant form, I love to nibble it while walking in the forest. Not much of it about now though - snow up to one's thighs here in the Land of Norse). Very soft and tiny bubbles. Gives the wine a lightness on the palate, if one can say that. Gorgeous mousse.... And beautiful minerals on the finish, which just lasts and lasts. I tasted this, knowing well that the 1996s are still very young. I wanted to check it out for cellaring potential. To me, it is surprisingly open now. But the acidity level and fruit intensity should bode for lengthy aging. (Trudi J. Haagensen , Norway)

01/04 1995 Pierre Moncuit Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc
£16.99 (US$29, 24 Euros). Pierre Moncuit uses grapes from his Grand Cru vineyards in Le Mesnil (where Krug have their vines). A soft lemon mousse nose, a medium bodied and rounded wine with a respectable finish that is drinking now. In my opinion, good value for money. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 1983 De Venoge Blanc de Blancs
I bought 12 bottles of this champagne in 1993 and have been drinking it steadily and these two bottles were my last. Dull yellow with fine bubbles and a delicate mousse. The mature chedder nose also gave off a strong yeasty aroma that partially blew off with a minute in the flute. A rich and slightly sweet palate with a decent length. It was soft and the power was fading. I have to say that this champagne split the opinions of everybody who tried it. I think that this was drinking at its peak at about 3-5 years ago. Others thought it was just great now. Nobody left any in their glasses. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

01/04 Lanson Brut 1996
Good maturity, slightly "cheesy", good acidity and depth of flavour. VG/E (nice stuff, but surprisingly mature for this much vaunted vintage) (Paul Armstrong, UK)

11/03 Alfred Gratien 1988 en magnum
Elegant pure nose with biscuity-ness and also some citrus notes. Excellent mouse. Very clean and remarkably fresh. Pure dry crispness in the mouth. Finishing with touch of citrus and melon. Very Good Indeed. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

11/03 Alfred Gratien 1988
We all know that large format bottles are supposed to age more slowly, but how often do we get to try the same wine en magnum and in single bottles. Very interesting. The single bottle has a much stronger character, with more yeastiness. Stronger flavours and a lighter mousse, which fades much faster. Notably more mature. Much bigger on the finish. Very Good. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

11/03 Pol Roger 1996
Very taut, acidic palate. Very powerful, but good concentratrion and a real chocolatey power. Real finesse. Very good indeed. (David Strange, UK)

11/03 Pol Roger 1973
Very dark. Very mushroomy, still some sparkle. Rich, mushroomy palatye, lots of length. Very complex. Lovely. (David Strange, UK)

11/03 Pol Roger 1988, en magnum
Creamy, biscuitty, mushroomy nose. Palate has real power, but great balance, lovely acidity. Real biscuitty fruit. Plenty of complexity. Very stylish. (David Strange, UK)

11/03 Champagne Brut Rosé NV, Alexandre Bonnet
Rather nice, full-flavoured champagne. Good pink, not too light, not too deep, with excellent mousse and structure with simple fruit nose, lovely palate. Slightly short, maybe, but very enjoyable, especially as I didn't pay for it! Good plus plus. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

11/03 Bollinger Vintage Rose 1996
youthful but still an absolute delight to drink-salmon pink, with orange highlights. The palate was full of red fruits, quite Pinot dominated which was confirmed on the label (it was less creamy and full than a Chardonnay dominated cuvee).Impeccable balance with a medium weight redcurrant, strawberry palate and long finish and that typical chalky (not minerally) character I get with Bollinger NV. Very elegant and refined. (nick wise, UK)

11/03 Bollinger 'Special Cuvee'
wonderful NV, rich and full-bodied with very low acidity (for a champagne) and a heavy spiced apple flavour and a long finish-interesting enough this had none of the typical NV Bollinger Chalky character. (nick wise, UK)

11/03 1995 Tattinger Comtes de Champagne
Creamy lemon tart nose, the palate glides effortlessly in a highly enjoyable medium powered finish. 92/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 Grande Champagne 1957, Harvey
Surprisingly pale colour - no caramel here! Nose is quite extraordinary - a delicate, floral, grassy, meadow-like layer sits over a deceptively understated richness and depth of flavour. Powerful and complex in the mouth, and leaves behind a whole series of blossoming flavours that last for ages. Quite incredible stuff. 5/5 (Lucian Holland, UK)

11/03 Pol Roger 1990
This is champagne as I like it - rich, old and slightly biscuity. Lovely, deep expressive nose with many dimensions and a rich, round palette. Delicious. Those who prefer their champage younger and fresher will definitely want to be drinking this up now, however. 4/5 (Lucian Holland, UK)

09/03 Pol Roger 1990
Very mushroomy and mature nose. Palate is really remarkably mature, almost over the hill, in fact. I had expected it to last longer than this. (David Strange, UK)

09/03 Gosset 1996
Quite meaty, quite biscuity nose. Some cold cocoa character too. Pretty big palate, lots of acidity. A monster. Really pretty good, though. (David Strange, UK)

09/03 Bollinger 1990
Very cocoa nose, some muchrooms, some toasty-ness. Palate has lots of mushrooms but is still quite lively. Good, but time to drink. (David Strange, UK)

09/03 Veuve-Clicquot Trilenniun 1989
Developed, golden hue. But on the money for a '89 - forward, going down, but this had some attractive toasty notes along with a whisky/sherry like hint. Not too far over, but will go quickly as acid is notably absent. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

09/03 H.Blin 1989 Vintage Champagne
Light gold, a sweet lemon and moderately biscuit nose. The mousse has calmed down and the palate is light with mature apples. A finish which lasts a respectable time and it is smooth. Drink now, no need to hold. 89/100. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

09/03 Champagne Lanson 1976 (in magnum)
Disgorged in 1999 for the Millennium. Straw yellow. Complex nose, very fresh, steely. Big chardonnay in the mouth, lots of apple, developing yeasty, bready notes after time. Long finish. Beautiful wine. Very good plus. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

08/03 NV Mercier Brut Rose
Clear pale salmon pink with copper tones. Fine mousse. Clean nose with some yeast autolysis, albeit slightly clumsy, touches of fresh strawberry. Light to medium bodied, fine bubbles, a quite dirty yeast character seems to dominate. The off-dry palate suggests this wine received a generous dosage. OK at best (Phil Shorten, UK)

08/03 NV Chartogne-Taille Rose
Clear pale salmon pink. Fine mousse with decent persistency. Good yeasty nose with pronounced marmite. Dry (but not completely dry), ripe strawberry and summer fruits, very elegant. Finishes long with balancing acidity. My only criticism is that it is not dry enough for my palate. Very good. (Phil Shorten, UK)

08/03 NV Pommery Rose
Clear pale salmon pink. Clean nose, again showing good yeast autolysis - biscuit and toasted brioche. Dry (yee-har), medium bodied, fine and elegant, yeasty characters follow through on the palate, quite nutty. Good finish. Not an in your face tub thumping wine, but very good indeed. (Phil Shorten, UK)

08/03 NV Besserat de Bellefont Rose - Cuvee Des Moines
Clear bright coppery pink, quite large bubbles. Clean, relatively subtle citrus fruit (lemon zest), no autolysis whatsoever. Dry, quite elegant palate that seems to show a decent amount of Chardonnay fruit. It seems to me that they have tried to produce an “elegant” style, but in doing so have made a wine that lacks any style at all. (Phil Shorten, UK)

08/03 NV Ruinart Rose
Clear bright strawberry/salmon. Clean nose showing subtle touches of biscuit and toast - quite youthful. The palate is dry and toasty and complex - not a fruit driven wine, but none the worse for it - plenty of yeast character and hint of honey and brioche. I liked it a lot, but some might find the toasty character a bit overbearing. A good food wine, I could imagine sucking back a few glasses with Cajun style blackened fish, or tuna steaks grilled on the barbie. (Phil Shorten, UK)

08/03 NV Laurent Perrier Rose
Clear bright rose petal pink, touches of apricot. Fine mousse. Clean nose of honey and ripe strawberry, a little bit of yeast autolysis. Medium bodied palate of slightly tart summer berries moving on to cashew nuts and toffee. To me, it seems a bit bland and one dimensional, technically not a bad wine, just boring and overpriced. (Phil Shorten, UK)

08/03 1993 Louis Roederer - Vintage Rose Brut
Clear pale apricot/rose petal. Clean nose showing some development, vegemite, toast, brioche and honey overlaying fresh strawberry and apricot fruit. Typical Roederer palate combining elegance and power, medium bodied+, strawberry, quite smoky. Finishes a tad dull. Very good but not sufficiently good to convince me to upgrade from the NV Brut Premier (okay, I know it's not a rose!). (Phil Shorten, UK)

08/03 1992 Moet et Chandon - Brut Imperial Rose
Clear bright quite deep amber/bronze in colour. The mousse is persistent albeit not particularly fine. Bouquet is dominated by caramel, toffee, overripe strawberries, honey and brioche. Dryish palate of honey, toast, almond/marzipan and demarera sugar. Whereas the Roederer was about class and elegance, this wine has no subtlety or style whatsoever. Worst wine of the night for me. (Phil Shorten, UK)

07/03 Laurent Perrier 1995 £30 (US$45)
Almost colourless, I discovered a nose of green apples with some lemon and a hint of peach. With a few minutes in the glass, all that I could smell were the green apples. The taste was very fresh, vibrant again freshly cut apples. It was light to medium bodied, clean but with a virtually non-existent and very simple finish. We were all disappointed by its showing and this is definitely not worth the money. 85/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

07/03 H Blin Vintage Champagne 96
Strong but fine mousse. Maturing very nicely, but quite rapidly, since my last bottle last year. Quite a bit of nutty/oxidative complexity now, and acid crispness receding. Probably at peak now for my palate. E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

07/03 Champagne Raymond Boulard Brut Rose
Clear medium salmon pink. The nose shows very good yeast autolysis and nuances of strawberry. However, what impresses the most about this wine is the very fine mousse and bead. On the palate, it is a most elegant Champagne, very fine and also very dry, not a fruit driven wine, albeit there are touches of sour cherry and summer fruits. Excellent wine that leaves the roses of many better known large Champagne houses for dead. (Phil Shorten, UK)

06/03 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 86
Deep gold. Lovely crystallised fruit & caramel nose. Rich creamy palate, lively acidity which for me nicely complements the aged oxidative notes. E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

05/03 Lanson Noble Cuvee 1988
Yeasty, biscuity nose. Fat notes of the Pinot Noir backed with the elegance of the Chardonnay. Good balance and nice finish. (Philip Vaughan, UK)

04/03 Canard-Duchene 1990
No mousse?! Quite nice chalky champagne nose, really quite mature - old, actually. Palate a little sharp and just a bit past it, but some creamy texture remaining. Goodish. (Stephan Muller, UK)

03/03 Pol Roger Brut 1990, Champagne
Golden colour, lots of small fine bubbles. Rich fruit flavours, soft mousse and appley acidity on finish. Quite mature now. Very Good. (Paul Anderson, UK)

03/03 Ruinart Blancs de Blancs 1988
fully mature creamy champers. Lovely mousse wth fine bubbles. No hard edge to this or great yeasty complexity which I find sometimne quite tricky to enjoy. This was completely integrated and smooth on the palatte with magnificant length. My last bottle...and I want some more! (David Bennett, UK)

03/03 Achille Princier 1990 Blanc de Blancs
Traditionally corked with string (probably now a arketing gimmick, and if so..then it worked for me!!) again my last bottle of this. More acideic than the Ruinart with more lemony notes and someone suggested Rosemary which by autosuggestion i found there. Enjoyable drop andmay need a few more years for the acidity to drop a wee bit for my liking. (David Bennett, UK)

02/03 Pol Roger Champagne NV
Every now and then you hit a bottle right in its sweet spot. This was one - quite simply excellent Champagne, with a beautiful complex nose. Light and biscuity rather than yeasty. I remember asking Jancis Robinson what she was going to open for the Millenium - "Billecart-Salmon NV that I've had for six months" she said. Bottles like this make me realise how often these NVs are overlooked. **** (Joel Hopwood, UK)

02/03 Champagne-Jacques Selosse "Substance" Blanc de Blancs
Very bright small bubbles ,fresh flowery prickly nose with some pineapple, fresh and full on the palate quite elegant but then a rather tart finish which detracted a little from first impression. Very good. Retail is around £35- £40 and it is not good value at that price. (Paul Redfern, UK)


02/03 1988 Dom Ruinart Blanc de blancs
Good even stream of bubbles. Extremely toasty nose. nice clean, full flavoured attack. Dry, but not aggressively so and very low acid. Clean and full. Bit of toastiness on palate too. Decent finish. VG. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)


02/03 1990 Rosé des Riceys Jean-Jacques Lamoureux
A smallish champenois appellation producing a (still) rosé from Pinot Noir. Not a wine for keeping, I believe - and this bottle was an odd one in a mixed case bought at auction for the early 70s clarets the case also contained. Very light and very mature brickish orangey pale red. V mushroomy nose with farmyardy hints. Light attack and very light on the palate. Virtually no fruit, but clear PN characteristics - just very much watered down. An interesting curiosity, no more. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

01/03 Bollinger Special Cuvée NV
Delicious. Quite a deep gold/green hue. Ripe and fruity nose, balanced by notes of baking dough, and firm and delightfully bubbly on the palate with a nice balance and good finish. Good plus/Very good. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

01/03 Bouzy, Champagne Gosset, NV(?)
An oddity brought back from a trip to champagne by our host. A red pinot noir (I believe) with no obvious vintage showing anywhere. Big, dense and showing nothing that would have made me guess pinot noir, this didn't have a lot to reccomend it aside from its novelty value. We moved swiftly on. Good. (Mark Pearce, UK)

12/02 1991 Champagne 1990 Grande Annee, Bollinger
Quite mushroomy and ripe, lots of biscuity/nutty character. Mature, but drinking well now. (David Strange, UK)

11/02 Diebolt-Vallois Cramant 90, single vineyard
Delicate structure, with slight toast and a little sweet fruit, appley bitterness in the finish. Quite minerally and great length, hints of vanilla and candied fruits. Vineyard name not stated (bottle bought at the producer). The vanilla I am told, is quite typical of the Cramant area. Excellent wine. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Pierre Peters BdB 1990
Mature character, dense nose. Very acidic and great attack in the mouth. Hints of smoke and coffee, noticeable oak. Quite developed style, rich and burgundian with definite minerally undertones. A developed, toasty impression. Very elegant and, at the same time, big finish. Degorged in 95. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Pierre Peters BdB 1989
Slightly flinty nose. Very good and appley entry, pure and very definite minerality. Smokey and toasty with hints of coffee, with great acids and slightly bitter and salty finish, Very long, and enormous acids in the finish, but still elegant. Standard cuvee. Excellent. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Diebolt-Vallois Cramant 89, single vineyard
Very young, very autolytic in character, buth with a lighter entry and not very long. Less fullness and power than the first 3, very pure and nice acids though. Not a bad champagne but not up to the competition, vineyard name not stated (bottle bought at the producer). (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Diebolt-Vallois Cramant 1989
Enourmous nose. Very rich, with a great entry, still young champagne, incredibly young in fact. Appley, and ultra minerally. Elegant and long finish, very concentrated. Great wine. Powerful, rich and elegant. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Salon 1988
Slightly sweet on the nose, also sweeter and richer, more developed in style than the previous wine. Lacks some elegance and length compared to it, too. Doubts are raised on the quality of this bottle. Not quite up to my former impressions of this wine either. Very good acids in finish though, elegant finish and an incredibly nice mousse, creamy. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Krug Clos des Mesnils 1988
Also a lighter wine. Slightly toasted vanilla fudge are the initial impression, very acidic finish, actually slightly imbalanced, fudge and oak, slightly bitter on the finish too. Very oaky with air/time in the glass. Not very impressive. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Krug Clos des Mesnils 1986
Fresher, seawater and minerals, beautiful, pure nose, nice fruit but moderate length. Refreshing and pure finish though. Slightly salty, quite powerful finish. Very good for the vintage. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Taittinger Comte de Champagne 1985
Very appley, fine concentration and fruit, but slightly dull in the finish. Lacks the vibrant finish characteristic of the best champagnes.. Sligthly woody and bitter in the finish, age are noticeable here. Remembers it as better from previous tastings. Mature and quite delicious, but finish and length are a drawback here. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Salon 1985
Young and hedonistic wine. Vanilla and sweet fruits, Complex, mienrally, young and tight. Very elegant, though slightly light in style. Complex, with green apples, vibrant and rich, slightly oxydised, almost some "firne" (think german Riesling with age). Smokey meat in the glass after some time. Excellent. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Krug Clos des Mesnils 1985
Very young again, with tremendous power. Vibrant, more concentrated than the Salon. Complex, great champagne with long and delicious finish, slight impressions of cassis on the fruit. Outstanding from magnum. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Krug Clos des Mesnils 1983
Noticeably older wine. Acidic, candied fruits (oranges?), slightly lean and over the top. Good wine, but somewhat oxydized and over the top, slightly ungainly and unbalanced Bitter finish with unbalanced acidity. Not up to scratch. Vintage not the best in Champagne. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Salon 1982
Outstanding nose. Rich and young, with impressions of sea and seabed. Very concentrted and long, vibrant finish. Very sensual style, but acidic and tight at the same time. Very concentrated finish, hedonistic style. Outstanding. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Krug Clos des Mesnils 1982
Very floral style, rich but with somewhat less power in the finish than the preceding as well as the following wine. Rich body, but lacks some balance and freshness in the finish. Mind though, that the company here is VERY exalted! Very good wine. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Krug 1982
Gunpowdery nose, very inpressive and focused. Minerally wine with outstanding concentration. Long, long and long again in the finish. More oxydized than the Salon 82, slightly floral again. Very good length, and an incredibly fine balance as well in the finish. Mocca beans (dark chocolate) and honey. Slight impressions of dried apricots. Outstanding. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Krug Clos des Mesnils 1981
Smoke and toasted ham on the nose. Lacks some length compared to the previouys – but rich body, with some lack of power in the finish. Very rich body, dried fruits and some saltyness, beatiful fruit with fine acids but slightly light in the finish. Great champagne except for the somewhat light finish, but again, the standards are very high in this company. (Odd Rydland, Norway)

11/02 Vilamart Coeur de Cuvee
No other words but simply stunning. Ok then just a few more.....Style: very nutty and in a slightly oxidised style as only chard can give. Fine mousse and a beautiful mouthfeel and good length. I like this alot and fortunatly have a few more tucked away. It's the sort of fizz that keeps you wantinmg jusrt another sip to really check how good it is asw it reveals another nuance each time. I remember how the "cuvee creation" of this house completely wow'd and seduced my taste buds last year. The Cuvee creation is not as good but how does one really compare. (David Bennett, UK)

10/02 H Blin Champagne Vintage Brut 96
Starting on a high: lovely lifted leesy nose. Biscuity, earthy, pleasantly crisp, vibrant champagne. E. (Paul Armstrong, UK)

10/02 Bollinger "Special Cuvee" n/v
Dominating yeasty nose with faint notes of lemon and mint. Some aged nuances appear on the finish and the balance of fruit to acidity is worthy. Enjoyable robust citrus flavors with excellent attack, and a bubbly I would buy as it is assertive and will continue to improve. (Roy Hersh, USA)

10/02 Wine Society Exhibition Vintage Champagne (Alfred Gratien ) 1990
Beautiful wine with depth and complexity and a nice biscuity follow through - unfortunately my final bottle. 16.5/20 (Simon Wharton, UK)

10/02 Champagne Michel Guilleminot Brut en magnum £30.95
Very rich nose. My initial impression was that it was a decent, full flavoured champagne, lacking the elegance of the best, but very acceptable. I have to say that after about four or five glasses (glasses were constantly re-filled), it was definitely growing on me! (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

08/02 Bollinger RD 1982
Very rich right out of the bottle, but a little blowsy and heavy at first. With time in the glass, the wine (and this is one of those champagnes that really is wine) becomes much more fresh, with razor sharp acidity on the finish. Excellent wine and one of my favourite champagnes: just make sure you give it some breathing space. **** It has such a lovely roasted hazelnut / white Burgundy character. (Joel Hopwood, UK)

08/02 Champagne Cuvee Orpale Grand Cru 1988
Fresh sherbert nose with lightly toasted aromas. The palate had rich biscuit flavours with a lovely soft, caressing mousse with the richness carrying through on the finish which just had enough cleansing citrus acidity. Very good+ (Paul Anderson, UK)

07/02 Champagne Moutard Brut Réserve NV
100% Chardonnay. Warm nose with hints of pear and plum, palate slightly dusty and seemingly not very clean, lacking some definition, rather vague. Also quite short. The plum note comes back on the finish. Has some appeal but rather crude IMO (needs time in the bottle?). (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Champagne Moutard Arbane Vieilles Vignes NV
This is a rara avis made of exclusively with the Arbane variety (apparently the only bottling of this grape, at 1,256 bottles). And it is a true discovery. The nose starts coffee-like, round, aromatic, mineral, slightly dusty and organic, with hints of liqueur and Chenin honey appearing after some time. In a way beautiful and captivating. On the palate there's againd a note of honey, all in all showing soft but not buttery as most Champagnes; lacks some length, with a short moment of intensity. Has its weaknesses, but more than a just a curiosity. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Champagne Moutard Brut Grande Cuvée and Brut Cuvée Prestige
Two wines showing quite similar, with slightly unclean or vegetal noses with overtones of hazelnuts and old wood, quite full however in mouth, balanced by a crisp acidity. Convincing, especially on the initial impact, then with an apple note becoming a bit too broad perhaps. Both, especially the Prestige, show very low dosage which might add to the impression of austerity. Both also examples of what I call food Champagnes. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Champagne Moutard Brut Vieux Millésime 1990
Disgorged summer 2001. Rustic, mildly oxidized nose as of barrel-aged Rioja, but not cheesy; pleasant and reasonably rich in mouth, with the old wood and roasted coffee edge of old Champagne. Quite full-flavoured, decent length, has a touch of class. Very good, though not among the greatest 1990s. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Champagne Moutard Brut Prestige Rosé
Pleasant, soft and elegant nose with raspberry and vanilla notes. Juicy but slightly tart in mouth, with a touch of bitterness on the finish which shows character of white rather than red fruit. Not as mouthfilling as the Arbane or 1990. Nose better than palate here. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Champagne Brossault Brut NV
Fair mousse. Good even bubbles. quite golden with a hint of pink. Bready nose (rather than toasty). Slightly vegetal and herby on nose. Good, clean. Nice mousse in mouth. Quite fine with a bit of elegance. Not great, but exceedingly pleasant and VG indeed at the discounted price. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

06/02 Pol Roger brut vintage 1990
Lovely straw gold colour, with fine mouse. Nose of fresh cut apples backed by toasty/bready notes.Palate is very smooth and creamy and very apple dominated, feels a little flabby at the end and seems to be missing some of the zing I would have expected - Good +. £25 at Sainsbury's. (Stephen Pickles, UK)

06/02 Mailly Grand Cru Brut Réserve
Medium golden. Hazelnutty and rather obviously Champagne on the nose again, with notes of green fruit, spring flowers, almonds and raw mushrooms, very fruit-fleshy, though with an austere side to it. More quincy-buttery in mouth, with opulent fruitiness but again a very dry, slightly austere appley touch. Clearly Champagne; a medium-weight example with good depth and definition, probably thanks to a very low dosage. Pinot-dominated. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Champagne Gosset Célébris 1990
55% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, 100% grand cru. Flowery, soft peary nose with hints of marzipan, vanilla cake and dusty caster sugar. Very fresh. Solid in mouth, but lacks complexity, with a slightly medicinal or chemical, powdery and musky finish. Slightly disturbing dosage. Not very refined for a 1990, and not convincing today. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Champagne Gosset Célébris 1988
Two thirds of Chardonnay and one of Pinot, 9 grands crus only. Very cheesy nose with notes of pizza crust and some pear fruit. Good acidity, some butteriness in mouth, but seems again to lack definition, and is even less attractive than the 1990. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Champagne Gosset Grand Millésime 1989
66% Chardonnay, 34% Pinot Noir, 16 crus. Better nose here: deeper, purer, with pear and fruit liqueur, though quite dry or dried-out, and again quite glassy. On the palate rather light-bodied, with notes of freshly cut pear and busy kitchen, and IMO not much interest. Thick liqueury fruit here though. Better than the two preceding, or at least more assertive now, but for a 1989 both quite fresh and lacking richness. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Champagne Gosset Grand Millésime 1985
62% Chardonnay, 38% Pinot, 15 crus, low yields of c. 68 q/ha. Cheesy and dry nose, lacking any kind of perfume at this stage, if not for a faint smokey note. More character in mouth compared to the 1989, if also quite stalky and, to an extent, hot. Notes of biscuit and ripe fresh peach. Quite long, but still far from convincing. But I have seen many 1985s in a weird phase at the moment; might open up in 2-3 years' time. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Champagne Gosset Grand Millésime 1982
Blend unknown. One of the most abundant harvests at 140 q/ha on average. Strange, interesting nose here: flowery and medicinal at the same time, very fresh for an 1982, with notes of almonds, dried herbs, some sweet fruit perfume. The palate is complex and flavourful, though very dry, highly bitter and herbal, and quite long. A convincing wine, though in a very odd aromatic style. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Champagne Gosset Brut 1976
62% Pinot, 38% Chardonnay, 20% of oak. Tasted from magnum. My favourite Champagne vintage, and this wine confirms its greatness. Amazing richness with notes of roasted coffee, ripe stone fruit, buttery croissant, powerful, if just slightly reserved on the nose (and much different in this from the recently tasted Lanson). The palate is all roasted nuts and almonds, with great richness and good depth, if again not the most expressive Champagne one could imagine. But outstanding for what it is. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Champagne Gosset Brut 1975
Blend unknown. Dark golden colour, one of the most saturated today. Honeyed nose with interesting hints of pine nut oil, soft praline and dry, roasted almonds. Great harmony and good intensity in mouth, quite dry, with a hint of bitterness, subdued, but impressive for the age. Clearly a much lower dosage than is customary nowadays. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Champagne Gosset Brut Intégral 1961
No dosage at all; 68% Pinot Noir, 32% Chardonnay, 12 crus. Rich roasted nose, mildly herbal, richer but also fresher than the 1975. In mouth shows some weaknesses of structure, especially on the metallic, herbal finish, but mid-palate has decent intensity, still quite good malic acids, and just a hint of flattening out. Wonderfully preserved for a Champagne disgorged almost 35 years ago. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Champagne Gosset Brut 1952
Low yields (55 q/ha) and a high proportion of Chardonnay in this vintage (82%, Avize, Mesnil, Vertus, Cramant, Chouilly; 18% of Pinot Noir from Ay, Bouzy and Mareuil), which amazingly is considered only an average one due to rain at harvest time. The nose of the 1952 Gosset is harmonious, mellow, with a hint of old wood and liqueuriness, quite fruity and apparently stable now, really not hinting at its venerable age. In mouth there's a slightly aggressive woody or musky touch, but great fruit really, with good acids, medium length, and impressive consistency. Not a sign of weakness, and by some margin preferable IMO to the more evolved 1961. A second bottle had a clear shoe wax nose, followed by ripe mirabelle liqueur and dry wood, slightly animal and bitter, but still impressive. An emotional glass of Champagne. (Nerval, UK)

04/02 Dom Perignon 1985
a great DP although I thought the 1990 had more finesse and complexity. A mature palate of gooseberries, creme fraiche with just enough acidity to stop it being blowsy. Probably drinking now so I don`t know if I`d leave it much longer. (20/25) (Neal Martin, UK)

03/02 Champagne Égly-Ouriet 1995
95% Pinot Noir, 5% Chardonnay. Pale colour. Fine, elegant nose of white flowers and quince, with a vigorous mousse. On the palate it is perhaps slightly greener than on the well-focused nose, with some toast and moderate body. Seems much more Chardonnay-driven than indicated by the blend; in any case an elegant, enjoyable, not overtly heavy Champagne. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Égly-Ouriet Brut Non Dosé NV
Very rich custardy nose with good amounts of fruit, while the palate is crisp and refreshing, with notes of pear and quince. Leafy, with the kind of cognac- or calvados-like austerity I find in Champagnes which have no dosage. Quite long. Very good indeed. Surprisingly (or not, given the nature of the vintage) this shows much more Pinot character than the 1995. (Nerval, UK)

02/02 Boulard Champagne Reserve Brut
Nice, leesey toasty nose indicating good proportion of reserve wines and some bottle age. Rich palate with good texture and nice fruit, but a touch bitter at the finish, leaving a very slightly oxidised impression. That's being picky though, and this is a very impressive NV. (Stephan Muller, UK)

02/02 Boulard Champagne Mailly Grand Cru
Darker colour, almost golden. Nose however younger, fresher than the Reserve Brut with more citrus character to it - less bottle age? Subtle toffee notes on palate, very elegant overall impression. Long finish of good intensity. Very good. (Stephan Muller, UK)

02/02 Boulard Champagne Millesime 1986
Slightly stinky on opening, but this blows off quickly to reveal a remarkably youthful nose, given the time this must have spent on the lees (released for 2000). Acidity also still very fresh, almost sharp, apple and lemon notes. Good body though and I think the fruit is there, but this needs more time in bottle. Remarkable for an 86! Very good. (and a cool Braille label!) (Stephan Muller, UK)

02/02 Charles Heidsieck 1982 Brut Vintage
Part of their oenotheque releases, bottle 423 of 462. Pale straw colour, nose gives the impression of 20yrs of age, has hints of marzipan, brioche and a slight floral hint. Palate tastes much fresher with hints of lemon meringue and honey. Quite creamy, opened up over an hour beautifully. I'd say it actually had a few years in it yet. Very good 15.5/20 (Anthony Taylor, UK)

01/02 Salon, Blanc de blanc, Le Mesnil, 1990
Yellow colour. Very fresh with grapefruit and citrus. Fresh, well balanced, apples/pears, a hint of bitterness, very long. Will turn in to a beautiful wine and is better left alone for a couple of more years. 94p+ (tasted in November) (Roderick Hopkins, Sweden)

01/02 Krug 1952
Foggy, but clean and complex nose of christmas cake and butter biscuits; pretty fruitless on the palate by now but with a beautifully austere mineral structure, and very long on the finish. It would have been better 20 years ago, but pleasing all the same (I am a gerontophile in Champagne) (George Horton, UK)

01/02 Jacques Selosse Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV
It was golden in colour with a constant stream of fine bubbles. The aroma was of warmth, definite Charodonnay, with apples, a hint of honey and brioche notes, smooth, full of flavour, very well balanced acidity. At this stage my only negative is, fairly short on length at this time. This is a very young champagne, which at this early stage is showing so much flavour and intensity, and based on it being a pure blanc de blanc, has some maturity and development yet to reveal. All I can say is WOW,WOW,WOW. Not bad for a £15 bottle of champagne. (Ann Chanel, UK)

01/02 Grosset Celebris 1990
Full on toasty/bready nose with ample, somewhat gentle acid in a lightly honeyed rounded fruit style with good weight and length. I guess this is proponent of the forward, up-front '90 style, good stuff. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

12/01 Champagne Joseph Perrier Vintage 1995
Light colour. Nose dominated by white fruit – pears, white peach and ripe apples. V. little lees character, hardly any toasty notes. Lively attack and fresh acidity supporting a nicely fruited, if perhaps somewhat green finish of good length. Nice wine. (Stephan Muller, UK)

12/01 Champagne Bollinger Vintage 1992
Golden colour. Big, open leesy, toasty and smoky nose, some honey, caramel and Demerara sugar poking through. Intense, honeyed midpalate kept lively by lots of apply acidity. Finish good if maybe a touch short. Much bigger wine than the Perrier, surprisingly bold for a ’92 but not exactly the most elegant. (Stephan Muller, UK)

11/01 Bollinger Special Cuvée NV
This bottle disgorged in March 2001. 60% Pinot Noir, 15% Pinot Meunier, 25% Chardonnay, aged for 3 years sur lie, dosage 7 g/l. This edition based on 1997 fruit with 5 to 10% of 1996. This wine makes up 80-85% of Bollinger's total sales. Medium straw colour, extremely fine, steady bubbles. Nose starts simply great, with soft brioche and Bourbon vanilla, then a bit of yeasty stink and a slight murkiness, which made me think of a corked bottle. On the palate the wine is very marked by malic acid, slightly neutral and out of focus, with medium weight. Slight murkiness here again. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Bollinger Grande Année 1992
Disgorged March 2001. 65% Pinot, 35% Chardonnay from 16 premiers and grands crus. 200,000 bottles made in this vintage, versus 400,000 usually. Slightly darker than the Special Cuvée, with apricotty tones. Nose is rather coffee-like here, with some old cupboard notes, minor praline and white chocolate, elegant, though clearly with Pinot Noir power. On the palate it is less focused than expected, with medium length and an astringent finish. Flavours mainly of coffee and praline; the dosage seems a bit too evident here. A soft, gently flavoured wine, but slightly muted, opaque, not as crispy-fruited and malic as I remember it from Verona last April. A marzipan note appears with time, covering what seems a deep murkiness, pretty much in tune with the Special Cuvée. Very strange. But having tasted this wine earlier this year and having then given it a strong thumbs up, I am decided to disregard this tasting as not quite representative of the maison's quality (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gosset Brut Excellence NV
45% Pinot Noir, 13% Pinot Meunier, 42% Chardonnay, dosage at 8 g/l. This edition based on 1998 juice with 15% of 1997 and 1996 reserve. This wine represents about 30% of Gosset's sales. 140F / $20. Medium straw colour. Starts quite yeasty and stinky, to reveal a very fresh, crisp, definitely citric nose and a huge mousse. Some white flowers and lemon peel appearing with time in the glass, followed by hazelnut and hazelnut leaf. Not too complex on the palate, but pleasantly balanced with praline and parsley notes. After an hour in the glass the wine presents quite heavy coffee ashes aromas, plus burnt wood, porcini mushrooms and toffee, gaining an indisputable wild, violent side to it. Not bad at all for a basic Champagne. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gosset Grande Réserve NV
Presented in a 18th-century bottle replica, as all Gosset's wines except the Brut Excellence. This wine is based on 1997 base wine plus 20% of 1996 and 1995. 46% Chardonnay and 54% between the two Pinots. 3-5% of the wine fermented in oak casks. At 200F / $30 it is a kind of prestige cuvée among non-vintage wines. Slightly darker straw colour than the Brut Excellence. Richer nose with honey notes, though still as yeasty; backed by a fresh celery or parsley backbone, but also with an organic note on the nose finish. Not extremely open or extrovert on the palate; dosage is fortunately quite low, there are rich praliney notes, but the whole seems to lack a bit of definition. Left in the glass, the wine seems to round up substantially, getting fresher, fruitier, with a creamy, custardy edge to the coffee and parsley notes. Not too citric, rather powerful and structured. A minor touch of greenness perhaps. Good wine, though less immediately appealing than the Brut Excellence. Might benefit from some ageing. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gosset Grand Millésime 1996
62% Chardonnay, 38% Pinot Noir. Previous vintages included 1993 and 1989. Same colour as the Grande Réserve. Finer, more elegant nose, very organic and quite evolved, with notes of ash, praline but not brioche, developing some marzipan aromas, while seemingly not too open, as if under a wood patina. Airing time gives it a familiar note of coffee and butterscotch, a bit of zabaione, all quite fine still, but not much more open. Full-flavoured in mouth, although lacking some definition again; integrated, smooth, with notes of vanilla and slate, but in need of bottle age to show more appeal. Another bottle was tasted at lunch, with consistent impressions. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gosset Célébris 1995
100% grand cru (7 to 9 parcels depending on the vintage) with 54% Pinot Noir and 46% Chardonnay. 40,000 bottles made, at 550F. Previous vintages include 1990 and 1988. Same colour as above. Nice, elegantly perfumed nose with a dominating impression of coolness, as of citron givré, with strawberry notes coming up with time, followed by slate, praline and some old wood. Integrated and seamless. A walnut peel note of slight oxidation appears, adding to the complexity rather than disturbing. On the palate the wine is very integrated and consistent, with mainly grey, Pinot Grigio-like fruit, some slate and lemon, and a hint of bitterness on the quite long finish. Lots of walnuts coming up. Interesting, if slightly odd. With airing time the wine stays quite elegant and fragrant, with peach and pear notes (of the Poire Williams liqueur-like thing), very mellow with good balance between freshness and praline-like evolved character, but still not outstanding (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Gosset Grand Rosé NV
A rosé of 56% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir, with 9% red from Bouzy and Ambonnay. This bottle based on 1998 harvest. Nice dark salmon colour. First nose of yeast, blowing off to reveal eggy zabaione notes, lots of wild strawberries, strawberry ice-cream and some fermenting vat things as well. On the palate it is extremely full-flavoured, with wild strawberry again and some blood orange. Ash and a touch of sweetness on the finish. Quite vigorous mousse. Airing time gives more delicate aromas of rose petals in an overall very fresh package, followed by a strong-flavoured finish. Very good stuff. I would recommend cellaring for 2 or 3 years to see whether it can integrate its component parts a bit better. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Lanson Black Label NV
Blend of 50% Pinot Noir (Montagne de Reims and the Aube), 15% Pinot Meunier (Dily, Champillon, Cumpère, Hautvilliers and further down the Vallée de la Marne), 35% Chardonnay (mainly Côte des Blancs with some Trépail and Villers-Marmery for extra power) from 50-60 different crus. This bottle based on 1998 with 15-30% of reserve wines from 3 to 4 previous vintages. Makes up for 80% of Lanson's total sales. Medium straw with lots of green shades. Very fresh, ripe yellow fruit on the nose, quite aggressive at first and with a lot of mousse, with some brioche coming up. Good persistence on the palate, slightly high dosage for my tastes; very citric, with some fresh vanilla notes. Nice fruity style. Jean-Pierre Gandon says he aims at 'a maximum of bouquet, with lots of fresh fruit and always a crisp finish - trademark Lanson'. All very true. With time in the glass there are some minestrone scents, slate, sea salt, lemon peel in a slightly bitter register, some praline backing the definitely green, unevolved character. Fresh, lemon-juice like finish. Very complete, typical and convincing Champagne. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Lanson Rosé Label NV
Based on 1997 with 30-35% of reserve, this rosé is composed of 30% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier and 55% Pinot Noir, of which some red wine from Bouzy and Ambonnay, macerated briefly. 'It is more a Champagne than a rosé wine', says Mr Gandon, adding that he wants nothing more than a vague fruity addition from the red wine. Medium salmon colour with very light peach hues, a nice colour. Nose starts quite mature, certainly more buttery and organic than the Black, with creamy-custardy notes reminiscent of zabaione and a herbal streak. On the palate the wine is very acidic, almost bitter, aggressively quincy and almost difficult to drink really. Gains a lot of body with airing time, together with subsidiary notes of cigar smoke, red fruit ratafia, macerated strawberries, some coffee with even more time, when it seems to lose a bit of rosé character. Very long, but herbal and too aggressive at this stage. A monster which needs extensive cellaring to overcome the raw, malic power. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Lanson Gold Label 1995
Only about 300,000 bottles made in this vintage, against an average of 700,000. 6 to 8 grands crus make it here, with 53% Pinot Noir and 47% Chardonnay in the 1995. This bottle disgorged June 2001. Same colour as the Black, if more limpid and even more green. Nose starts slightly stemmy, fresh and green, with a bit of custard, some slate and brioche as well, French pastry perhaps, and a dash of citron givré. Thick, impenetrable nose. On the palate the acidity dominates, aggressive and almost bitter again, with juicy lime on finish. Leave it for a while in the glass and there are rubber and brett notes emerging, grey, austere fruit - a problematic evolution. But the superior persistence leaves me confident that this will turn into something drinkable, perhaps highly so, in ten or fifteen years. A quintessence of the uncompromising Lanson style if there ever was one. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Lanson Blanc de Blancs 1994
25,000 bottles made. This wine is made of 100% Chardonnay, which always comes from Avize and usually from 2-3 additional crus in the Côte des Blancs. We were unable to determine the disgorgement date because of the very tiny print on the bottle. Same colour as above, lots of green shades again. Very finely perfumed indeed, with slate, vanilla, praline, sweet green apple, while staying quite fresh, perhaps even austere. In mouth it shows medium persistence and a slight lack of both definition and complexity IMHO. Airing time brings a rounder finish and more opulence on the nose, which is imply great, with ripe peach, Tahiti vanilla and praline. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Lanson Noble Cuvée 1989
60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir in this very precocious vintage, instead of the usual 70/30 ratio. 180,000 bottles made, this bottle disgorged July 2001. 1989 saw some millerandage on Chardonnay vines, which led to a less abundant harvest of very high quality. Slightly darker pale gold in the glass. Briochet, very round and soft nose with vanilla, butter and custard notes. Mellow but very full-flavoured in mouth, with a bitter astringency typical (I was beginning to understand this) of the maison, although this wine is as soft, vanilla-infused and briochey as possible within the context - the relative epitome of refinement. Bitter grapefruit notes on the very long finish. This note stays present and even expands with airing time, joined by tarragon and mineral aromas on the still quite elegant nose, while the palate seems to close up a bit, there are some mushrooms, beaten egg and butterscotch, perhaps some old wood and a wild strawberry Pinot note as well. Quite typical of the vintage, as far as I am concerned, but couples Lanson's greenness and tart acidity with the generous, evolved character of many 1989s. Brilliant wine no doubt, but will be even better in five years' time. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Lanson Gold Label 1990
Colour is dark gold with yellow and orange reflexes. The nose is very intense, quite honeyed, with a buttery brioche side to it. It also shows some dirt/dust, thick double cream, old wood, walnut peel, all this wrapped around a solid core of green fruit. Excellent finesse here. In mouth it is no monster, showing medium persistence of toffee and walnut notes. Very evolved, but great. Amazingly, airing time brings much fresher notes of grapes, gooseberry, soft and mellow fruit and hint of roasted coffee. Very elegant wine which is at a good stage to be enjoyed: sufficiently mellow and round yet still quite fresh. Very revealing as to Lanson wines' potential to age. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Lanson Gold Label 1976
Grapes harvested on September 1st, 1976. This magnum disgorged on July 21st, 1999. Colour is simply beautiful: dark gold with gentle apricot hues. Nose explodes with freshly roasted coffee, which fills the large tasting room. Other notes are fresh bread crust, white truffle shavings, percolator coffee changing quite substantially into café au lait and then a bit into boiled milk. But it is on palate that the wine knocks you off, with incredible intensity and razor-sharp definition. Flavours are mainly of café au lait again, but there is a solid citric backbone and a fabulous, still uncompromisingly astringent finish which whispers 'Lanson' for a good 45 seconds. Amazing youthfulness in this 25-year-old Champagne; even if the bubbles disappear relatively quickly and the profile is in part quite tertiary, there is an unmistakable greenness which seems to indicate further ageing is possible. Easily the best Champagne I've had in my (short) life, simply fabulous. I don't know if any of these bottles will be on commercial sale anywhere, and what will they cost, but this is one to die for. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Brut NV
Technically a crémant, with a pressure of 3.5 atm; designed, says Richard Heij, as a gastronomic Champagne. 43% Pinot Noir, 42% Pinot Meunier, 15% Chardonnay; dosage 12 g/l. Pale golden with a light green hue. Neutral nose of Sauvignon Blanc-like gooseberry, grapes and roasted chicken skin; not giving much, and revealing its industrial yeast in a stinky whiff. On the palate it is crisp, with lots of green fruit and a very evident dosage. No evolution in the glass. The acidity seems to stand a bit apart. Just decent. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Blanc de blancs NV
100% grand cru (Avize, Cramant, Chouilly), aged for 4 years sur lie, dosage 10.65 g/l. Same colour, light golden with perhaps some yellow. Nose starts with egg custard and some ash, with still that industrial yeast profile IMO, but nobler and softer than the brut. Buttery, off-dry fruit on the palate, with a lemon zest note; very acidic (no malolactic in any of these wines) and mouth-twisting. Not much Chardonnay character at this moment. Needs 2-3 years to come around. Lacks definition. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Rosé NV
47% Pinot Noir, 43% Pinot Meunier, 13% Chardonnay, aged 18 months sur lie, dosage 12.75 g/l. Pale pink salmony, with a light strawberry rim. Slightly stinky nose again, but there's quite a lot of strawberry fruit to cover this; soft and milky, quite sweet, with a petits fruits rouges note emerging. On the palate there is a touch of cognac and red fruit syrup, with again very high acidity. Seems very 'assembled', if that makes sense, and the dosage here is at the limit of what I can stand, but perhaps the most convincing, pleasant to drink of the three. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Veuve Clicquot Carte Jaune NV
This bottle based, as the one tasted in April, on 1997 juice. The average cru scale of this wine is a whopping 97%. Colour is medium straw with green shades. An aggressive nose of yeast, apple pie and white fruit flesh, quintessentially vinous Champagne here, though perhaps softer, more honeyed than I remember. What I like especially here is the kind of texture that is between freshness/fruitiness and 'serious' white wine. Excellent as always. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Veuve Clicquot Vintage Reserve 1995
Disgorged October 1999. 56% Pinot Noir, 9% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay, elaborated from 15-20 premiers and grands crus and dosed at 9 g/l. About 200,000 bottles made of this and the Rich Reserve jointly, while the Vintage Rosé is 140,000. Same colour as above, with lots of green. Nose is positively biscuity, extremely complex and seductive with dried apricot, gingerbread and vanilla pods; very rich, spicy, sweet, almost oriental actually in its opulence of perfume, but quite elegant at the same time. In mouth it has a oily texture with a touch of spicy sweetness on finish. Not a monster, but irresistibly delicious at the moment. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Veuve Clicquot Vintage Reserve 1993
This bottle disgorged August 1998. 62% Pinot Noir, 3% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay. Slightly darker golden colour than the 1995. Nose is more briochey, softer, with some mild coffee and sweet fruitcake (very akin to the French clafoutis) notes, perhaps some slate as well. Compared to the 1995 it is more austere and more marked by sweet fruit at the same time; to me it seems more characteristically Clicquot, while the 1995 I would qualify as a gift of the vintage. In mouth the 1993 has just as rich a texture, with lots of marzipan and almond flavours which are perhaps slightly bitter. Quite flavourful, it opens up with fruit liqueur bite and a bit of dried apricot and apricot gelée. Less charming and more austere at the moment, it might show better backbone for ageing in the medium term IMO. Still both wines are quite similar in style and profile. Excellent. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Veuve Clicquot Rosé Vintage 1995
Disgorged February 2000. Same grape proportions as the 1995 Vintage, but with 15% of red Pinot from Bouzy. Quite dark for rosé, between dark peach and brass. Very rich and complex nose of strawberry liqueur, chrysanthemum flowers, crème de cassis, amarena cherries, opening up with lots of red cherries and orange peel. The palate gives intense strawberry and raspberry juice flavours with a liquorous touch on the finish. Very individual style of rosé here, way more 'rosé' than most other Champagnes, quite vinous, almost Burgundy-like (Mercurey came to mind). Quite tannic on finish, with lots of sour cherry. Powerful and greatly intense. Finally a real rosé, I thought. Note that Veuve Clicquot has been making rosé Champagne since 1777. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 1995
Disgorged in August 2000, this wine was released September 14th of this year. A blend of 60% grand cru Pinot Noir (Verzy, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Aÿ, Verzenay) and 40% grand cru Chardonnay (Avize, Oger and Mesnil). About 120,000 bottles made. Pale gold with green hues. Very rich and perfumed nose with ripe peach, some bitter mirabelle, gingerbread, a minor biscuit note, more flowery and feminine than the 1995 Vintage. Extremely full-flavoured in mouth, with brioche, praline and toffee, sweet, integrated, very long, though the finish thins out a bit and vanishes with some bitter hawthorn notes. Again the acidity seems a bit low, though Cyril says it is higher than in the 1995 Vintage, since 'grands crus retain more acidity in the grapes'. But clearly a superior wine. Give it 5 years. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 1993
65% Pinot and 35% Chardonnay in this vintage. Bottle disgorged October 1999. Slightly darker colour which is pale gold. Nose of farmer's butter and Scottish shortbread, as well as lots of roasted coffee. In mouth it is very intense, soupy, almost like chicken broth in its bite, if a bit low in acid and with a touch of heat on the finish. Minor old wood oxidation note. The focus is again, as with the 1993 vintage, on the superb texture. But the finish here is slightly herbal and green, and certainly less complex and virtuosic than the 1995 Grande Dame. Still an excellent wine. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rosé 1990
This is the current release (1995 will come next). 60% Pinot, 40% Chardonnay all from grands crus, with 12% Bouzy red wine. This bottle disgorged June 1999. A tad darker than the 1995 Rosé. Nose of creamy biscuits, sour cherry, raspberry and all kinds of petits fruits rouges, more delicate and elegant than the 1995 Rosé, with a distinctive liqueur character to it. Intense, round, almost balsamic in mouth, with some marzipan, orange zest, mirabelle and quince, plus some amarena cherries. Very rich and mouth-coating, not the longest of Champagnes, but quite decently constructed. Some tannins on the finish, which seem to grow with time. Nicely integrated whole. Brilliant wine with a personality. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1994
100% Chardonnay. I asked about the crus used in this wine, and Mr Court answered they were about 15, and 'all grands crus', (which is nonsense, as there are only 6 grands crus of Chardonnay). Dosed at 9 g/l. Disgorgement date unknown. Very pale gold with lots of green shades. Nose starts with lots of industrial yeast and mushroom flavours, which made me think of a corked bottle. It only partially blew off with some time in the glass, and stayed quite musty until the end. But the other two wines presented similar traits. Either not perfectly clean glasses, or perhaps the wines were not in an aromatically too happy period (which is also why I would have liked to know the disgorgement dates). In any case the nose is softly briochey, opening up on lots of vanilla, butter and wood. Quite Meursault-like here. On the palate there is an interesting evolution: attack is quite aggressive, with high limey acids, followed by a buttery and soft matter, but the finish is a bit herbal and shorter than expected. Nice, drinkable wine, well-made, but rather unexciting. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Taittinger Brut Reserve NV
This edition based on 1997 juice with 2-3 years of reserve. 40-50% Chardonnay, 50-60% of both Pinots. Same colour as above, perhaps slightly darker. The nose is again very musty and dusty, quite strangely so I must say for a wine that I've tasted many times in the past and liked, sometimes a lot. On the palate it presents a full, thick juiciness and an almost velvety texture with a touch of sweetness. Quite orangey in flavour, with medium acids, pretty vinous for such a high degree of Chardonnay. Lemon and vodka on the finish. Again a bit neutral, lacks superior cut. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé NV
30% of Chardonnay and 13% of red wine. Colour is medium pink, with no hints of salmon. Nose is a bit cleaner than the two above, although some marble ash character is still present. Notes of raspberry, red fruit liqueur, some rose petals marmalade. Some Chardonnay finesse indeed here, though not on the palate, which has blocky acids and lots of sour cherry on the finish, together with minor tannins. Not too complex and not too long really. Some orange zest, fruit liqueur, slightly disjointed evolution. An OK wine, but nothing more. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Pol Roger Blanc de blancs 1995
100% grand cru. Overwhelming nose of vanilla, pear compote, praline, fresh greengage prune, complex and intense in its richness. On the palate it is also quite mouthfilling, again in the peary-pruney register, with both fresh and cooked fruit notes. Medium finish which shows a bit of dosage and is perhaps slightly disjointed, though that's a minor weakness. Brilliant blanc de blancs (labelled 'Chardonnay', as a matter of fact). I re-tasted it from two other bottles and none was as charming as this one. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Pol Roger Brut 1995
Darker in colour and on the nose, with some roasted aromas, although not as intense and defined as the BdB. Tell-tale vintage Champagne character with a featherlight mixture of praline and brioche, as well as a green streak. On the light side. Medium length at best. A second bottle showed richer and fresher at the same time, with a distinctive prune note as in the Chardonnay. But clearly inferior to that first wine, lacking some cut and at the moment showing rather neutral. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Pol Roger Rosé 1995
Medium salmon colour. Nose of red fruit with curious, vegetal and organic scents of roasted red pepper and boiled quail egg respectively. Seems a bit more charming than the 1995 Brut, though still a far cry from the BdB. Palate is juicy, more compact and mouthfilling than expected, with a distinctive note of raspberry, though otherwise still a bit too neutral. Develops strong roasted coffee notes with time. Consistent from three other bottles. An intermediate style of rosé which can please. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Pol Roger Brut White Foil NV
Dark yellow. Starts rather yeasty, but with very pleasant aromas of double cream and white flowers. The stink blows off after half an hour, leaving a Champagne that's very creamy and frothy on the palate, though a bit too light and soft to my tastes. Flavours of green apple, quince, charlotte cake, with good acidity and a grapefruity finish. Gets richer with time in the glass, with more brioche than grapefruit in fact. Quite good, if lacking some cut perhaps. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Pol Roger Rich Special Demi-sec NV
Dark golden colour. Rich honeyed and praliney nose with a whiff of meringue. It is on the palate that this wine astonishes with its balance and perfect definition: only slightly sweet, with excellent acidity and complex flavours of honey and vanilla, it finishes with a pear juice note which is everything but cloying. Contrary to most Champagnes, this only gains in integration and smoothness if left in the glass, and drinks beautifully even the next morning. Elegant and superiorly balanced. The most convincing demi-sec I've had to date. (Nerval, UK)

11/01 Cuvee Orpale Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru 1985
A: Light golden colour. Fine bubbles. N: Aromas of violets and slightly floral. P: Lovely soft mousse with sherbert and slight redcurrant flavours. Tastes quite mature with a full rich yeastiness on the finish. S: Very good. Drink now - 2005. (Paul Anderson, UK)

10/01 Heidsieck & Co Monopole, Diamant Blanc
£40 at Oddbins in the run-up to the Millennium, this was £14 in the French supermarket. Although the name might imply a blanc de blanc, the back label says P.no.wah too, also (according to neck label) a cuvee for the millennium – so a bit of bottle age then ! Big bubbled mouse, but fine bubbles on standing, medium to deep colour for champers. Nose was really quite sweet, perhaps like marmalade with a pleasant yeasty bread background. Speaking as a non champagne aficionado, this is my type of champagne! Full bodied, relatively sweet, good acidity and fab with a creamy salmon starter ! I noted that the bubbles didn't last very long. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

08/01 Canard Duchene Cuvée Charles VII
Given to me by the house on a private visit 4 years ago with my wife. Absloutley wonderful and more akin to Bolli than straight CD. It showed a youthful acidity but with medium to strong biscuity flavours. The mousse was fine and consistent giving the wine great balance with a touch of citrus fruits still lingering. (David Pearce, UK)

04/01 1990 Grande Dame
great reputation - wine of the vintage? Yeast/brioche lost under weight of fruit and minerals. Something eventually identified as "orangey-coconut-cake" completes it. Very long and intense - spectacularly so in the mouth. Needs time to become more complex - right now it's just champagne. Lovely aperitif though. Will be fabulous. (George Horton, UK)

04/01 1985 Bollinger R.D. Extra Brut
Disgorged in June 1997, was drunk with some disappointment at first with the leaner, tighter, Pinot-driven (65%) fruit, even if it was in impeccable balance. Thank goodness this really opened up after some time with air to throw off tons of yeastiness, richness and generally goodness without losing any real grace. (Yixin Ong, Singapore/UK)

03/01 Philliponnat Clos des Goisses 89 £35
Pale colour with furious mousse. Curious nose of pineapple and other tropical fruit (?due to hot year) with similar on palate. Very creamy mouthfeel and tastes slightly pinot dominated. Very long and very delicious 17.0 (Anthony Taylor, UK)

03/01 Lanson Red Label 1971
Oldest champagne I've drunk so little basis for comparison. Lazy fine bubbles, pale gold colour with nose of Shreddies! Palate of coffee bean and hazelnut with nice cleansing acidity still. Again finishes long. Lovely if slightly curious. 17.0 (Anthony Taylor, UK)

03/01 Lanson 1982 Vintage
Paler than 71 with more bubbles and more persistent fizz after pouring. Beginning to get toasty on nose but not so obviously old as 71. More finesse driven and very very nice. 16.0 (Anthony Taylor, UK)

03/01 J. Lassalle N.V. Rose
Very pinot-like, with tart cherry and strawberry dominating the underlying yeast and toast, quite pleasant, elegant, with some length and crispness, a nice way to kick things off. (Yixin Ong, Singapore/UK)

02/01 Special Club Brut, Grand Cru 1994, Henri Goutorbe
A: Pale straw, clean, very fine fast rising bubbles. N: Very floral with rose petal aromas and biscuits and yeast. P: Ripe and rich pear and green apple flavours with a fine, fresh and soft mousse. This really does dance over the tongue. The finish is quite long with hints of apple crumble and cream and a satisfying foil of citrus acidity. S: This is surprisingly good for a '94, being rich, showing some good complexity and very well balanced. Now - 2006 (Paul Anderson, UK)

01/01 Salon Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil 1985
A vintage Champagne made solely from Chardonnay grapes, this is still alive but is just beginning to show its age a little. A full golden colour with a rich, toasty, part-oxidized nose. On the palate it is rich, full flavoured, bready and with fine bubbles. I like it a lot: it’s nice, full flavoured stuff, but others at the table think it may be a little past its best. Very good/excellent. (Jamie Goode, UK)

01/01 Champagne Raymond Boulard Prestige Tradition
Pale lemon colour, sparkling appearance. Lively fine bubbles form a fine necklace round the rim of the "stemware". Intense honey and vanilla on the nose, which explode from the bottle upon opening. Very long citrus finish, but clean on the palate. Despite the citrus taste, not at all "acid". (John Holland, UK)

12/00 Moet et Chandon NV Brut Imperiale
I'd had this a year or two which I suspect helped it soften. Surprisingly good, elegant and clean aperitif. Nice stuff. GOOD. (Paul Armstrong, UK)

12/00 Piper-Heidsieck 1990 Cuvée Rare Reserve
A light lemon gold colour. Lots of consistant beads. Attractive toasty chardonnay like complexity on the nose, subtle and very attactive. Nicely balanced palate but stops way short of Grand Cru length - in fact it's rather short. It gives an almost Dom Perignon like first impression, subtle, balanced and elegant - but at half the price on offer - it only offers half the length! (Nick Alabaster, UK)

11/00 Drappier Rose de Desmoiselles Brut NV
A: Salmon pink with fine fast rising bubbles.
N: Strong whiffs of strawberry and hints of blackberries.
P: Very round with a lovely soft mousse with prominent flavours of strawberry and forest fruits in the background supported by good acidity on a good medium length finish. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Drappier Cuvée 2000 IIIeme Millenaire 1995
A: Clean, pale green with a slight pink hue. Bubbles faded very quickly.
N: Lemon pie and biscuity aromas.
P: I found this quite harsh on the palate with the acidity overpowering the light peach and pineapple fruit. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Drappier Grande Sendree 1995
A: Very pale straw colour. Fine concentrated bubbles.
N: Strong ripe fruity nose with aromas of bread and tropical fruit.
P: Lovely soft mousse with ripe flavours of preserved oranges and pastry and hints of peach all held up nicely by a subdued citrus acidity. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Drappier Grande Sendree 1990
A: Pale straw. Fine bubbles
N: Peachy nose with ripe apricots and baking aromas.
P: Very ripe peach and apricot flavours with a slight hint of strawberry on a long rich finish all contained inside a good lime acidity. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Drappier Grande Sendree 1989
A: Pale straw. Fine bubbles that fade quite quickly.
N: Very closed nose not giving much away. Slight hints of pear as it warms up.
P: Rich on the palate with peach and pineapple. Rich finish is low on acidity. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Drappier Grande Sendree 1988
A: Very pale with fine long-lasting bubbles.
N: Very similar nose to the GS '95 with notes of bread, peaches and apricots.
P: Quite racy palate with flavours of orange and lime with a long and citrus finish. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Drappier Carte d'Or Brut 1983 Disgorged July 1998
A: Light golden hue. Sparkle fades quite quickly.
N: Rich biscuity nose with tropical fruit aromas and hints of vanilla in background.
P: Lots of dried fruit on a rich palate with traces of liquorice. Lovely rich finish with acidity maintaining it's freshness. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Drappier Carte d'Or Brut 1982 Disgorged December 1996
A: Bright light golden colour.
N: Buttered toast and wet stones on the nose.
P: Initial flavours of peach and lime which quickly takes a nosedive into a fairly short finish. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Drappier Carte d'Or 1978 Disgorged July 1999
A: Pale golden hue. Fine, quickly fading bubbles.
N: Very sherry-like nose with hints of soured cream.
N: Nice rich palate with canned fruits flavours and fresh acidity on finish. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Drappier Carte d'Or 1970 Disgorged July 1998
A: Straw colour. Few bubbles.
N: Slight sherry aromas with raisins in background.
P: Raisin and sherry flavours on the palate. Good fresh finish with citrus flavours. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Drappier Carte d'Or 1979 Disgorged July 1999
A: Slight pink colour in straw. Few bubbles.
N: Stoney, slight tropical fruits and strange whiffs of old cabbage in background.
P: very fresh for it's age with slight coffee and peach flavours. Good acidity on finish holding it all together. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Drappier Carte d'Or 1969
A: Bright pale golden colour. Few bubbles.
N: Slight sherry aromas with crystallised fruit.
P: Same flavours as on the nose with a long rich finish on good acidity. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Drappier Carte d'Or 1959 Disgorged July 1999
A: Pale golden colour with slight pink hue.
N: Very Burgundian on the nose witharomas of freshly ground coffee, hazlenuts and cocoa.
P: Rich palate with very ripe fruit and fresh zing. Hints of peach and pineapple and finishes long. (Paul Anderson - UK)

11/00 Bonnet 1989 Champagne
It's £18.99 at Oddbins (20% off 2 bottles). Lovely deep golden colour. Lots of small bubbles. Wonderful yeasty, bready nose with overtones of freshly baked apples. Palate is smooth, with an excellent mousse, good acid structure and the yeasty character comes through well to a very pleasing finish (Graham Simpson, UK)

09/00 Margaine Brut NV
Pleasant toasty nose: buiscuitty and pronounced. Complex and rounded on palate. Very good. (Jamie Goode, UK)

09/00 Champagne Egly-Ouriet Brut Non-Dosé
Soft but intense buiscuitty nose. On the palate it's quite striking, with a savoury, dry, complex character and bracing acidity. Very interesting, but quite extreme. Very good/excellent (Jamie Goode, UK)

09/00 Champagne Brut Tradition Gaston Chiquet NV
A: Clean, pale straw colour. Fine fast rising bubbles concentrated in the middle of the flute.
N: Nose of hay, sherbet and slight whiffs of cheese. P: Lively mousse with flavours of lemon meringue and bread. Finish is rich and limey.
S: Very tasty, fresh and tingly champagne. Interestingly composed of 45% Pinot Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir 35% Chardonnay. Now - 2005 (Paul Anderson - UK)

08/00 Cuvée Palmes d'Or NV
Fairly pale gold wine. Nose gives off nice biscuity notes, a gentle yeastiness and some citrus fruits. A gentle foaming mousse on the palate, more yeasty than the nose would suggest. Appealing biscuity & nutty notes, more obvious on the endpalate. Clean acidity to balance out the upfront flavours. Very good. (Chris Kissack, UK)

08/00 Cuvée William Deutz Blanc de Blancs 1964
Stored perfectly since original purchase and bought at auction. The cork eased out pretty easily and made a satisfying "pop". What was really impressive was the colour - a deep yet clear straw/gold, with plenty of froth and fizz, yet this dissipated quickly. The nose was classic old champagne - yeasty, with hints of sherry and butterscotch. Savoury. Rich and complex. Would the palate deliver? Yes, it did, with a freshness and lightness that belied the yeasty pungency of the nose. There was none of that metallicness and none of that real madeirisation of fizz that really has "gone over". There was also a zesty citrus note in the finish that lifted the whole wine - what a lovely glass; and not something you taste everyday! (Joel Hopwood, UK)

06/00 Champagne, Diamant Bleu, 1985, Heidsieck & Co.
A: Clean , light golden colour with fine bubbles.
N: Initial aromas of mustiness followed by citrus fruits.
P: Sharp citrus flavours with creamy soft mouse and long, rich finish.
S: Good, sound mature Champagne for drinking now. (Paul Anderson - UK)

06/00 Champagne Autreau 1995
I don't know anything about this other than that it is a blend of the three classic Champagne grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier. Nice yeasty nose with hints of butterscotch. Straw colour. A bit lacking in concentration. Pleasant to drink but not memorable - died very quickly in the glass. (Joel Hopwood - UK)

06/00 Champagne Franck Bonville Blanc de blancs 1995
Lighter colour, lovely stream of tiny bubbles. Nose is (I think) closed, but shows hints of chalk dust and biscuity notes. Very concentrated mouthfeel, and a long finish with zingy acidity. Developing a very slight toastiness in the glass, but you get the feeling this has got a way to go. Some of us described it as "austere", which I suppose is reasonable for a very young blancs de blancs - it doesn't have that easy drinking nature that comes with more red fruit. My conclusion: very good wine in a traditional b de b style. (Joel Hopwood - UK)

06/00 Champagne Cuvée Dom Perignon 1990
Immediately captivating fruit/cream/biscuit nose. Full bodied palate, displaying the perfect (and I don't use the word lightly) balance between power and complexity. Some truffles/dried mushrooms coming through later on the nose. There was a touch of metallic bitterness on the mid palate that could be due to bad storage (this bottle was bought for cash from a restaurant) but this didn't stop one enjoying the wine. My concluding words: "stunning, rounded, complete, the ideal". So there you go. That was my first taste of DP! (Joel Hopwood - UK)

05/00 Billecart-Salmon Demi-Sec, NV
Pale golden yellow. Nose was quite fragrant, with French Golden Delicious apples and Conference pears dominating, and an underlying hint of toasted biscuits. A constant stream of small bubbles was joined by a nice mousse. It was medium-dry, rather than medium-sweet and the apples and toasted biscuits came through well to a nice finish. Nice aperitif. (Graham Simpson - UK)

05/00 Drappier Carte d'Or Brut 1959, disgorged July 1999.
Appearance: Deep golden colour, very few fine bubbles, little mousse
Nose: Multi layered nose of toast, ripe pineapple and biscuits.
Palate: Very rich, ripe tropical fruits - peaches, apricots, pineapple. Still very fresh with balancing acidity. Long rich finish. Very little sparkle, reminiscent of a Meursault.
Summary: Needs food. Drink now - ? (Paul Anderson - UK)

05/00 Drappier Brut Rose, Val de Desmoisselles 1959, disgorged July 1999
A: Very clean deep salmon pink with amber tones. Very few but fine bubbles.
N: Ripe strawberries with whiffs of farmyard smells.
P: Strawberries and cream, prunes and earthy flavours. Very soft mousse feel in the mouth. Rich finish with good acidity. Quite like an old, light red burgundy.
S: Very interesting and unusual champagne - this was not on their list but sold to me as an 'interesting wine'. Drink now. (Paul Anderson - UK)

03/00 Ruinart Brut NV £19.99
This is now my favourite non-vintage non-rose champagne. A classic, old fashioned nose of leesy yeast and chalk dust, and a quite-rich palate with balance and finesse. Exactly what "everyday" champagne should be, and at a sensible price. (Joel Hopwood - UK)

03/00 Canard Duchene Brut NV. £16.49.
Apparently one of France's biggest selling champagnes (if not the biggest). Pale yellow colour. Nose is pleasantly aromatic, with subtle bready notes. Nice, soft mousse. Well balanced palate, with refreshing acidity, with white fruit flavours. Good. 16.5/20 (Chris Kissack - UK)

03/00 Canard Duchene Charles VII £29.99.
Similar hue, pale yellow. Good, yeasty nose. Lovely soft mousse. Creamy yet light and refreshing on the palate, nice feel in the mouth, good fruit. Some length. 17/20 (Chris Kissack - UK)

03/00 Ruinart Brut NV. £22.99.
Pale colour. Lacking on the nose. Subtle yeasty notes, fresh citrus aromas. Creamy texture on the palate, but palate also seems flat and uninteresting. No fruit. Perhaps subdued fruit evidence of a corked wine? Certainly not showing well 12.5/20 (Chris Kissack - UK)

03/00 Ruinart Brut 1993. £27.99.
Yeasty, biscuity nose. Creamy texture on the palate, lovely mousse, white fruit. Nice acidity, refreshing. A little short on the finish. 15.5/20 (Chris Kissack - UK)

03/00 Ruinart Brut Rose NV. £27.99.
Pleasant colour and aroma. Some nice red fruit on palate, well balanced. Overall pleasant. 15/20 (Chris Kissack - UK)

03/00 Laurent Perrier Brut NV. £21.99.
A blend of all three grape varieties, although I didn't catch the exact percentages. Nose was pleasantly fresh with some bready notes. Palate had pleasant fruit, but was marred by excessively high acidity - something that seems to be a Laurent Perrier trait. Finish was especially 'sharp'. 15/20 (Chris Kissack- UK)

03/00 Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut NV. £29.99.
Pinot noir 50%/Chardonnay 50%. Here the wine, following remuage, is topped up not with the usual 'dosage' of sugar-laden wine, but with more of the base wine only. No extra sugar. Hmmm.... Appley fruit on nose. Pleasant, could lead to good things. Pleasant yeasty flavour. Unfortunately, high acidity combined with the extremely dry palate makes this wine difficult to drink. Bitter finish. I'd class it as 'interesting' rather than a 'buy'! 14/20 (Chris Kissack- UK)

03/00 Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle 'La Cuvée'. £49.95.
Again Pinot noir 50%/Chardonnay 50%. Base wine 1990, with additional '88 and '85, which have both been kept on their lees in stainless steel up until blending prior to the second fermentation. Subsequent bottle age of finished wine 7 years. Up front, yeasty nose. Some white fruit. The palate has nice fruit, bready yeasty flavours abound, less aggressive acidity, and surprisingly warming alcohol for a champagne. Excellent length. 16.5/20 (Chris Kissack- UK)

03/00 Laurent Perrier Rose NV. £28.99.
This interesting wine is 100% Pinot noir. Laurent Perrier pay their growers 15% over the usual price for well ripened grapes. They are picked and destemmed by hand, and then fermented in a 'maceration' technique, pumping the juice over the skins. After several days, when the desired colour has been achieved, the wine is run off, and there is some gentle pressing of the pulp. What a lot of effort!! Nice colour. Fresh red fruits, notably strawberries, are more evident than in many rose champagnes I have tried, probably reflecting the 100% Pinot and above technique (it's practically sparkling Beaujolais ;-), after all). Palate is nicely balanced. Pleasant red fruits, showing particularly well on finish. Very nice, very drinkable, but perhaps lacks finesse - and Chardonnay! (Chris Kissack- UK)

03/00 Billecart-Salmon, Cuvée Nicholas-Francois Billecart, Vintage 1991
Judging from the cork, quite recently disgorged. Colour was a pale greenish gold. Incredible mousse, variable sized bubbles exploding all over the place - like a pint of Guinness settling! Really beautiful to look at. Quite dumb at first on the nose, some yeast and orange peel. In the mouth it was very rich and "fat". High extraction, powerful yet elegant. The second glassful had begun to develop a lovely savoury smell, reminding me of white burgundy. What made it so compelling for me was the exquisite balance of richness and elegance. A wine to drink or keep for some considerable time. (Joel Hopwood - UK)

03/00 Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose, Non-Vintage
Billecart are very famous for their roses, which account for about 20% of their sales. They also make a vintaged rose which is extremely hard to find. This one had a lively mousse of small bubbles, and a delicious nose of fresh strawberries. The palate was similarly lush, with hints of peaches and sweeter, more obvious fruit than the '91. Much less extract also - in the mouth it felt "leaner" than the previous one. Very good length. (Joel Hopwood - UK)

03/00 Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve, Non-Vintage
I suppose we should have had this one first. Somewhat unkindly dubbed "cooking Billecart" by our host (obviously getting a bit spoilt!), this wine had a noticeably paler colour than the Cuvee NFB, and a less exuberant mousse than either of the preceding wines. Noticeably high acidity gave it a lean, tight structure, and my note includes the word austere. This is probably a little unfair given the order of tasting, and I did find that it opened out a lot on the second glass, gaining more yeastiness, and hints of chalk dust (nice). An understated, "classic" Champagne that could maybe do with a bit more bottle age. Also a very good house NV, but not quite up to the exceptional standard of the Dom Ruinart NV (a bargain at £20 in Oddbins, BU and the usual suspects) that I had a few weeks ago. (Joel Hopwood - UK)

03/00 Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs Vintage 1986
Needless to say, I was *really* looking forward to this one! Again, quite a rare wine - it's hard enough to find the current vintage in the UK let alone an older one. (Actually the wine search facility has just come up trumps, but thats another posting!) Anyway: a very deep and beautiful green-gold colour, average level of fizz, with tiny bubbles. An intriguing nose of ripe apples and roasted nuts. At first, more than slightly vegetal, it had that off-putting old-fizz smell of beer. This dissipated after some good swirling, though. Also hints of butterscotch and toffee that one would expect from mature blancs de blancs. The palate was simply stunning. Creamy, oh-so-rich, soft mousse, amazing subtle flavour of coffee beans, loads of old champagne character but still so well balanced and fresh. The second glass also displayed a gorgeous aroma of fresh wild mushrooms. This is just so complex, the more you look the more you find. A bit like drinking fizzy white Burgundy! Delicious. This is the first time I have tried a Champagne more than 10 years old and enjoyed it. (Joel Hopwood - UK)