Tuesday, July 3, 2012

No Guesses - It's Bubbles!

For a number of years, a good group of us would get together for brunch, with Champagne, and calm our nervous fears before we headed off to the Guessing Game.  A few glasses of bubbles does wonders at calming the spirit and creating a sense of camaraderie.  The rest of the day involves trying to guess the identity of wines that come our way, so the only rule at brunch is to bring Champagne, and serve it to everyone.  No guessing that it’s a tradition that is popular.  So it was reinstated this year, and it could become a regular fixture again in coming years.

In no particular order, the wines come out.  The first was a 2005 Pierre Gimonnet ‘Fleuron’ 1er Cru Champagne, impressively upfront and bold with plenty of fruit and fizz as well as the required bready autolysis.  Though not possessing all the layers and nuances, this was indeed a satisfying drop.  Looking at the label, maybe we should have had the NV Drappier Champagne ‘Brut Nature, a zero dosage wine, but its softness made it very approachable and mellow.  Often these styles can be pretty austere, but not this, yet deliciously encouraging the palate and satisfying it simultaneously.  A lovely fine-textured and balanced bubbly.

We then moved onto the rosé bubbles.  The NV Bollinger Champagne Rosé NV wasn’t as big and oxidative as expected, and indeed rather restrained and quite fresh.  Sure it was a ‘bigger’ wine, but not strikingly so, as is usually the case.  I have noticed that the Bollinger ‘Special Cuvee’ has been remarkably fresh lately, and since the rosé is based on it, the latter is correspondingly so.  And maybe the newness of the shipments coming into the country are another factor.  Distributor Negociants NZ are onto stocks not hanging around.  In any respect, a delicious bottle.  Much more subtle was a 2002 Pol Roger Champagne Rosé, delicate red florals and fruits, and like the Bollinger, growing in the glass to reveal more.  This was even more layered, and developed superb richness, while all the time retaining great class and style.  An even more beautiful bottle.

Two Champagnes at ends of the spectrum in seriousness, yet both very good in their way.  An NV Piper Heidsieck Champagne, now seemingly relegated to the FMCG market, but deserving much better.  Linear, steely and without the breadth, spread or detail, but with very fine, clean drive.  It may have been overshadowed by some of the more prestigious labels, but this is smart for what it is, and it delivers a thirst-quenching mouthful.  Finally a NV Jacquesson ‘Cuvee 733’ Champagne, something with all the body and yeast autolysis ‘bells and whistles’, but again not taken to a realm which requires an expert mind and geeky palate.  Well-judged and a lovely-jubbly bubbly.

With these under the belt (among a dozen of us, and with a hearty brunch), the afternoon was a breeze as you can probably guess.

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