The prospect of tasting 15 prestige cuvée champagnes in one sitting later this week is a mouth-watering one. Especially as they are all from the celebrated 2002 vintage, which will probably, with a little competition from 2008 & ’09, go down as the finest vintage of the past decade. But it’s interesting to speculate — before I have seen the actual list — who will be included in the line-up?
I imagine Dom Pérignon, Cristal and Krug will be there, the last named only released to a rapturous welcome early this year, while Cristal will potentially boast considerable bottle age, given it was first made available over seven years ago. I guess Dom Ruinart, fabulously rich and powerful in 2002 and Clicquot’s La Grande Dame will complete the Moët-Hennessy quartet in the line-up.
Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill and Salon are two further acclaimed ‘02 releases, and I’m pretty sure Taittinger’s Comte de Champagne will feature (see my piece on the recent Finest Bubble vertical tasting of Comte 1996-2006 which included the 2002). To these eight we can probably add Deutz Cuvée William Deutz, Piper Heidsieck Rare, Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque, G.H. Mumm ‘R’ Lalou, Pommery’s Cuvée Louise and Lanson Noble Cuvée. The only recently released Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas Francois Billecart will I imagine also feature and certainly should in terms of the quality of the wine.
That would not leave a place for Bollinger however, and while it’s hard to decide which is the houses’s prestige cuvée — La Grande Année, R.D. or Vielles Vignes Françaises – surely it will be there. The first ever 1969 vintage of Vieilles Vignes Françaises was the absolute star of the magnificent June Bollinger tasting at the opening of its Galerie 1829 cellar, but I suspect the wine selected will be La Grande Année.
This is the Bollinger wine that features on the Liv-ex index of the best performing prestige cuvées from the 2002 vintage. But that also includes Phillipponnat Clos des Goisses, which is the only wine from that list we have not included in the 15 named above. But as the only single vineyard wine that’s probably correct.
However, there are others notable names missing too. Gosset Celebris 2002 was involved in the recent magnum vs bottle Finest Bubble tasting, so I’d expect to see that knocking out one of the 15 above. And as there’s a vertical tasting of every release of Gosset Celebris since it was launched in 1988 this afternoon (5 October) in the same London venue, I’ll have the chance to try it twice in one week. Bruno Paillard’s Nec Plus Ultra should be there too, as the just released 2003 vintage amply demonstrates, but Bruno hasn’t released it yet so it won’t be.
Charles Heidsieck should also in theory be included, but the obvious choice Blanc des Millénaires is still on the 1995 vintage. No doubt Champagne Charlie was made in 2002, but the last such cuvée I’ve seen released was the 1985 –though it’s highly likely this cuvée will be revived soon and what better way to relaunch it than with the 2002? Laurent-Perrier’s Grande Siècle probably won’t feature either, because it’s a three vintage blend, though it would be interesting to taste in this line-up the one before last release, based mostly on 2002 (which also has a % of 1999 and ’97 in the blend).
What else? I’d be very happy to include Joseph Perrier’s Cuvée Josephine, Thienot’s Cuvée Alain Thienot and Henriot’s Cuvée Enchantaleurs, bottles of which are happily in my cellar. But it is of course down to the organisers The Finest Bubble (www.theFinestBubble ) to decide who actually features. Jancis Robinson leads the tasting and I’ll report on how it all goes shortly.