It's Champagne Season! 10.22.2013

Let's face it:  it's always champagne season.  Sometimes, I sip champagne because it's Tuesday and the sunset looks great.  Why not?  But it is true that champagne is my favorite beverage and I never need an occasion to drink it.  

My wine guy, Phil Bernstein, of MacArthur Beverages in DC recently organized a tasting for wine/food bloggers to blind taste grower champagnes.  So I immediately arranged for child care and told Eric I would be out for the evening.  Obviously.

Grower champagnes -- also known as "farmer fizz" -- come directly from the families who own the vineyards.  Larger champagne houses such as Veuve, Moet, or Pol Roger, gather their grapes from the entire Champagne region.  You can distinguish a grower champagne by the initials RM (Recoltant-Manipulant, which means grower producer) on the wine label.

Phil set up eight brut champagnes for us to taste, with one ringer that was champagne but not a grower champagne.  I know what you're thinking:  this is more fun than anyone should be allowed to have.  If you've never been to tasting, you are missing out.  Aside from learning new tastes and textures of wine, the conversation that happens around the tasting is ridiculously fun for any wine nerd.

We blind tasted all eight champagnes, interspersed with comments, and guesses about the ringer.  I'm going to list the champagnes we tasted, with these comments:

My favorite was the Dosnon & Lepage Brut ($40).  It was dry with a tiny hint of sweetness.  It had a smooth texture and went down easy.  I'd enjoy this as my daily champagne, if I was someone who drank daily champagne.  

There were two rosés in the tasting and I was not crazy about them.  I have a hard time with rosé champagne:  the bubbles dissipate in a cluster-like way, which can be distracting from the taste, and the taste was not potent enough for me.  The two rosés were:  Dosnon & Lepage Brut rosé ($40) and Pascal Doquet Brut rosé ($49.99).

The ringer was a Louis Roederer Brut Premier ($40).  When I first smelled it, it was a little funky.  But that's never deterred me from trying a beverage and by the second sip, I was enjoying it.

Other champagnes in the blind taste test were:

  • L. Aubry Fils Brut Premier Cru ($39.99):  Very even; something I'd love to drink before (or with) an Indian meal.
  • Pierre Peters Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Cuvee de Reserve ($49.99):  a little smoother than the Aubry and a longer finish.
  • 2007 Vilmart & Cie Brut Grand Cellier D'Or ($69.99): Phil's description:  "This one would be for the acid freaks."
  • 2010 Cedric Bouchard (Inflorescence) Brut Blanc de Noirs Val Vilaine ($59.99):  Powerful finish; perfect to pair with oysters.

During the champagne tasting, there was also a tasting going on for Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whiskey (12 and 15 years aged).  In addition to being a champagne lover, I also very deeply love single malt scotch whiskey (I am Indian after all).  I tried both and purchased the 12 year;  smoother and just the right amount of intense smokiness.  Big recommend.

For all other wine recommendations, ask my wine guy.

MacArthur Beverages
4877 MacArthur Beverages, NW
Washington, DC 20007


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