London grower champagne tasting

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Po-yu Sung, Nov 11, 2018.

  1. Thank to Oliver for bringing me in this event at 67 PalMall.

    It might sound strange but I never went to Champagne, and didn't really have chance to taste many growers, whilst I already hear so many things about growers, from how great it is compared to grand marque to how terrible it is by pushing all sort of extreme/fundamentalism.. I don't think I have tried any of the growers that listed this event before so it was a learning.

    This even is at underground floor of 67PM; as usual it benefits from the nice zalto glass, however this event all the wines are almost universally too warm. A rugby player student looking staff told me that the freezer (?) got a problem. Not sure why they don't just use ice but we only saw the staffs take the bottles in and out of the 'freezer', and the bottle bursted and sprayed again and again not sure due to warmth or late delivery. The staffs were all young and polite, but not sure they know much about champagne let alone grower champagne.

    I think Oliver made a better note so surely he can give a much fairer report for each producer. I can only sum up some feelings:

    1. There are many wine had unique, if not weird nose to me. AR Lenoble NV 'intense' (indeed intense) has a hint of cleaning liquid nose, its BdB had no nose. Nathalie Falmet 2012 had nice palate but alcohol nose, maybe due to warmth. Andre Jacquart BdB really had a very 'sauternes'-ish nose, I wish the wine producer was there to answer my doubt. Nicolas Maillart, his 2003-6 magnum was good, but 2011 and 2012 got soapy nose. La Villeseniere rose was oaky.

    2. Many wine tasted 'sweet', even the dosage is low. Probably again because it's too warm. But even Andre Jacquart's no malo 0 dosage wine tasted a bit sweet, though the best palate among all the wine shown. Vazart Coquart's many wine are decent but at the same time dosage very standing out. His 1.5g/l Cuvee 82/12 tasted fine though. Everything of Francois Seconde tasted sweet in a different way; it doesn't tasted sweet at front palate but has a hint of sweetness lingering...probably not from cane sugar... I would guess he uses different kind of dosage. Andre Robert also all taste quite sweet even it's 5.5-6.5g/l. There are still some low dosage and harsh ones: Lacourte Godbillon NV was burning. the 2013 BdB was better.

    3. Various styles. From Miniere F&R's almost over serious rose NV to Francois Seconde's pretty colour and sweet palate crowd pleaser rose NV. From very strong acidity non malo to almost too sweet palate. From heavily oaky to no hint of oak...

    Anyway, two best moment of our efficient tasting:

    I read out loud the booklet: "(Francios Seconde NV grand cru).... Jancis Robinson, WIne of the Week!"
    Oliver gave me a serious look.
    Jancis Robinson behind me: 'C'est moi!'

    We talked to an English wine making person (I forgot the name of his business).
    He pointed Oliver: 'Is he your boyfriend?'
    I: 'No, unfortunately not.'
  2. I think this relates to the Scala wines tasting on Friday last week

    It was an excellent event with some superb 'grower' / RM Champagnes. Many thanks to Tim Hall of Scala wines who has sought out these producers over the years and is extremely knowledgable about Champagne and provides a fantastic service to customers even including personal delivery of orders. Bravo Tim!
  3. I was there too Po. Some very interesting wines but a great pity that the glasses, just as at The Landmark Hotel where Decanter had their DP/ DP02/DP03 tasting, had not been properly rinsed so that none of the champagnes had any mousse. A basic error and so easy to rectify.
    Raymond Tilney likes this.
  4. Wines too warm, contaminated glasses.

    Doesn’t sound too good from a dedicated wine club.
  5. Ah ha, so maybe the cleaning liquid nose of Lenoble NV is really from cleaning liquid (that was the first wine poured into the glass I used for the whole night)

    I guess after several wine and water the glass was washed well enough, but still the temperature was an issue.

    After the event we were generously given a bit said to be newly disgorged C. Hiedsieck BdM 1999... I think that’s what I heard. For me it was actually quite shy on nose and flat on palate... I don’t know if it’s the glass, the newly disgorge effect, the 1999 vintage, or my palate fatique.
  6. In my limited experience 67PM are serial offenders re champagne glass hygiene regime, and I go back to events before the formal opening, I had hoped that with the succession of Sommelier talent they have had this would by now have been sorted.
  7. I think we have had better luck upstairs... or downstairs more often had this issue?
  8. Yup, I’ve had issues on one or two occasions, including one with you, Ray.

  9. Just to add a bit more notes:
    Among all 11 producers I feel Miniere F&R and Vazart-Coquart are the two probably more agreeable to me, so in a little bit more details:


    Blanc Absolu NV , all CH, 85% 2011
    I found the nose round and rich, good touch in the mouth, but the after taste and the body is not good enough. We felt that they made a decent effort on a probably rather average juice. Looking forward to the 2012 or 2013 based one.

    Cuvee zero NV
    Totally the same wine just longer on lees with no dosage.
    it smells so much more closed. Dont know why.

    Symbiose 2008
    Half CH half PN.
    First pour was weird, maybe slightly corked? Muted with a hint of strange nose.
    I waited for the new bottle and it was much better.

    Cuvee Influence Rose NV
    As said, serious and oaky.


    Grand cru Chouilly NV
    2013 base, 25% solera, 7g/l dosage
    Has an unique oriental spices nose. Good body due to 2013? Dosage stand out but should be better if chilled.

    Extra brut NV
    2012 base, 25% solera, 2.5g/l
    Fresh yet ripen. Doesnt taste like an extra brut.

    Grand Bouquet 2012
    Very big nose. The palate is smooth, maybe a bit easy.

    Cuvee 82/12
    A blend from 1982 ~2012, 1.5g/l
    Good mouth feel, nice mature elements. Best of this table, but the price also highest

    Secial club 2008 bdb
    Special bottle shape, 7.5 years on lees.7g/l
    Quite chalky and a bit slim. But dosage really too obvious.
    Alino Punzalan likes this.
  10. Vazart are using MCR for their dosage and yet again I find myself not liking how it dominates the wines with its simply sweet, honeyed notes.

    I feel the need to write a Tom C. Style rant! :)
    Tom Cannavan and Po-yu Sung like this.
  11. Also if recently disgorged it may well have a Mytik closure as did the Rare 2002 at the festival, which rendered it unrecognisable.
    Po-yu Sung likes this.
  12. Five star anecdotes there. 'C'est moi.' Classic.
  13. I've had the Lenoble Brut Intense several times and don't recall any cleaning liquid odours so you may well be right (sadly).

    (For the record, I do think it relies on a sort of bitterness for its structure which I personally don't like a great deal.)
    Go for it! I was thinking along the same lines as you about MCR when I read Po-Yu's notes.
    Tom Cannavan likes this.
  14. Do producers using MCR adjust for sweetness compared to cane/beet sugar when considering what dosage to use?
  15. Hi Phil,

    So do, some don't. But even with MCR adjusted downwards, it has a particular aroma that is obvious when compared to standard dosage. If the producer doesn't use any SO2, then the effect can be exaggerated further.
  16. Had it as a house pourer for a while and I found it very good, so I also agree there was probably something else affecting it.
    Steven Pritchard likes this.
  17. I will try and put some thoughts together from my scribbled notes but I cannot promise there is enough detail or sense to make a fair report :)

    I was looking forward to this as an opportunity to try many growers that were new to me, infact Lenoble were the only wines I had tasted before.

    I find “grower” champagnes rather difficult to taste, often shown quite young (both young wines and recently disgorged) and often with a lower dosage than I would normally care for. The combination can seem like a bit of an assault on the tongue. I have in the past come away without any particular inclination to buy anything. Which is funny because when I have been served RM champagnes by some forumites (often special clubs) they have always been lovely - helped by the fact they have been well chosen, cellared if appropriate and then served with food.

    Po’s glass on Lenoble definitely smelt different to mine, for some reason I did not think of glass contamination at all. My glass was fine but in general I tend to rinse my glass at a tasting (and often at dinner, borderline rude I am sure) and also gulp down a big pour of water from it before getting started. I have to say, I haven’t encountered a glass hygiene issue at 67PM, not that I am doubting the experiences of those that had.

    Lack of temperature consistency was a real challenge on the day and I am sure several wines showed much worse for being room temperature. Several bottles opening in a formula one style due to this (and perhaps transport) surely couldn’t have helped them either.

    Tim has surely put together a very interesting range, he was rather busy on the day so I wasn’t able to ask the questions I had (the very pleasant Scala employed servers did not appear to know the range were unable to answer them and suggested speaking to Tim).

    Absolute sweetness levels were a bit difficult for me to ascertain as we moved up and down the dosage levels, temperature often causing wines to appear sweeter than perhaps they were. The use of MCR as dosage is very interesting, this is not something I knew about but several wines had a distinct “grapey” aroma and sometimes taste (almost moscato like at times). Po remarked that he expected different sugars were being used.

    Overall, some enjoyable and good value wines but I think I probably remain a more GM sort of chap...

    Will try to order my notes this week....
  18. :cool:
    Steven Pritchard likes this.
  19. :cool:
  20. There is dross produced either side of the GM and RM fence to be fair. It is a fact that I don’t even comment on 30% of the wines I taste, perhaps a sad fact, price does not necessarily guarantee quality.

    Many RM producers are becoming a parody of themselves. They become noticed by releasing a number of well made wines, but then feel the need to “destroy” their good work by chasing unicorns. Examples?

    Lowering cane/beet sugar dosage and then swapping MCR is hypocrisy, denying the positive effects of sugar, using a “product” that makes their life easy, and making many wines from different producers taste boringly similar.

    Ignoring the impact of oxygen during disgorgement, and claiming that the subsequent bruised apple or brothy aromas are examples of terroir, or worse: oxidative wine making ("oxidative wines" are constructed at the start and not the end of the champagne production process, involving such voodoo paraphernalia as oak barrels). Like leaving a bottle of milk open for a few days and then applauding the cows for creating something so individual!

    I don’t want my champagne to taste of cider, or beer, let alone oxtail soup.

    Yet there are producers that embrace many of my pet hates, wines made using bad techniques I tend to avoid and yet they are still great wines.

    The world of the RM is colourful, exciting, and often disappointing. But please don’t waste your money or time : I’m happy to that on your behalf, AND please don’t stop drinking or reading. There are some wonderful producers still awaiting discovery!
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
  21. I remember the forum had a discussion about sugar, and you mentioned when MCR being used at low level it can be fine but in higher dosage the difference is obvious. Apparently that's the case here. Any of their wine above 6g/l was just sweet.
    It's also somehow misleading buyers, as we discussed different sugar has different sweetness strength, moreover, different kinds of sweetness.
  22. I have spoken with one producer who feels that straight cane/beet sugar isn't neutral (he said it can have a vanilla influence) I can kind of understand that.
  23. Where would the vanilla come from? Sucrose is only sweet, it has no flavour.
  24. Phil, I guess it comes down to how pure is your sugar. I haven't a clue. But a finger dipped in a bag of tate & lyle is interesting.
  25. I think we can revive the discussion....

    A couple thoughts:
    1. Human sensory can feel differently on sucrose, fructose and glucose, even they are all sweet. They are not only having different level of sweetness, but sweet in different ways.... In my experiment, white cane sugar adding in plain rice congee taste 'warmer' than adding pure fructose syrup. Others might have different ways to discribe, but the difference is significant and I believe most people who do the experiment can tell.
    2. The taste of wine is more complex than plain rice congee, so the interaction between sugar and other flavour contents are more complex. Just like MSG itself doesn't taste any good but if you add a bit in the soup it makes the soup taste different.
    3. What exactly used in dosage is various and unclear. Surely there are things more than moût concentré rectifié or not.
    4. Agree with Steve, there is no such a thing of non-artificial dosage. Actually, there is no such a thing of non-artifical champagne.

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