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Champagne Drappier

by Tom Cannavan, 11/00

This dinner was hosted in Edinburgh in November 2000 by friends of the Wine Pages, Paul Anderson and Scott McKittrick. Paul and Scott are regular visitors to the house of Drappier and the collection was amassed from their respective cellars. The old Carte d'Or wines were recently disgorged. The Carte d'Or Brut is Drappier's vintage Champagne, the Grande Sendrée his top-of-the-range deluxe cuvée.


Scott, Paul, Toby Bailly and the wines

I would like to thank Paul and Scott for this exceptional tasting and their generosity. I also thought these Champagnes were genuinely excellent across the board. This is is clearly a very fine house and the wines are thoroughly recommended.

Val des Demoiselles Rosé NV
Very fine bubbles. Quite a deep rose pink. Emerging notes of yeastiness, but mostly fresh, soft strawberry fruit on the nose. Sweet attack on the palate and a creamy mousse. There's a lovely tart raspberry freshness, but this is generous in style offering off-dry easy drinking, yet with a little bit of firmness and authority. Very good.

Cuvée 2000 IIIeme millenaire 1995
Pale gold colour. A mass of very fine, steady bubbles across the bowl. Very appley, with a baked pastry edge. There's a little oxidised note too. On the palate really orangey fruit and quite rich with a long finish.

Grande Sendrée 1995
This has a paler golden colour and tiny, persistent bubbles. Quite bready on the nose and that lovely baked apple fruit. Small notes of herbs and peach. The palate is concentrated, with a good mousse and lots of lemony freshness. There's a core of savoury green apple acidity and the whole wine shows lovely fruit, great style and balance into a very long finish. Excellent.

Grande Sendrée 1990
Pale to medium gold. Fine, steady bubbles. Gorgeous brioche and baked apple nose, quite toasty but fine. Similar to the '95 with some quite dark, herbal-edged peach fruit on the palate with a creamy mousse and texture, notes of nuts and biscuit. Very good length. Delicious and lovely. Still young.

Grande Sendrée 1989
Medium gold colour. Fine bubbles. Slightly aniseedy quality to fresher peach and citrus fruit. Fruit-driven style with crisp orange and white fruits on the palate and a beautiful streak of lime and mineral acidity. A little bit sherbetty. The finish is powerful and oddly austere. There's quite an abrupt quality and just a suggestion of bitterness. Very slightly corked?

Grande Sendrée 1988
Medium gold colour. Concentrated apple pastry nose. Really dense, with raspberry and citrus fruit packed in. There's still a fine hint of acid-drop freshness too. Good cushion of mousse on the palate. A lovely purity of ripe pear fruit; an over-ripe, slightly oxidised but pleasant suggestion of bruised pear skins. Lots of freshening acidity in the finish and just small notes of toast. Good length and balance. Very good.

Carte d'Or Brut 1983
Medium gold, quite vibrant. Lovely nose, sweet with peach and apricot fruit, quite aromatic with nuts, herbs and a honeyed, a almost marmalade quality. Deep, but still some citrus clarity and yeastiness. Just delcious. Very grippy palate, a real core of steely lime acidity gripping ripe, almost buttery fruit yet still elegant. Such a delicious style. excellent.

Carte d'Or Brut 1982
Medium gold. There's a distinct coffee note, a little caramel and a really hazelnut quality. Good body and rolling mousse. Very different in character to the '83 with a liquorice-edged grip and not quite the elegance or length. Nevertheless very interesting and very drinkable. Very good.

Carte d'Or Brut 1978
From a poor year. Just a suggestion of a rubbery, maderised note on the nose, but not off-putting. Some caramel. The palate has a nice mousse and immediately there is far less fruit than the '83 for example, but it has some lovely old Champagne characteristics. Nicely yeasty with nettles, herbs and a soft richness still evident. Decent length and really quite enjoyable. Remarkable given the vintage.

Carte d'Or Brut 1970
Medium to darkening gold. Good, small bubbles. Spice and ginger notes add intrigue to a peach, nut and light coffee bouquet. The palate is quite luscious with a medium density mousse and a definite sweet edge to orangey fruit. Just off-dry and a very easy to drink style. Good length. Lovely.

Carte d'Or Brut 1979
Nice medium gold hue. Still very small, persistent bubbles. Vaguely funky, vegetal quality at first. Lots of nettles, leaves and herbs. Lovely full, creamy mousse and a distinct coffee flavour. That coffee-grounds, bittersweet character gives an edge to peach and plum fruit with again a little suggestion of sweetness. Very good length, this is balanced and quite savoury in style. Very good indeed.

Carte d'Or Brut 1969
Medium to darkening gold. Richness and sweet, ripe fruit on the nose. Quite lemony with plenty of fruit. Just a little toasty edge. The palate is full and creamy with pear, apple and hints of orange. Good, though not as complex as the '79.

Carte d'Or Brut 1959
Fine bubbles. Wonderful nose; a mass of hazelnut syrup and mocha coffee. Fantastically rich and toasty. On the palate lots of stuffing still, with a density to the texture and lots of flinty backbone and grip. Lemony acidity sharpens peaty, smoky and hazelnut flavours but a fruitiness pushes through into a long, dark, liquorice-tinged finish. Superb.