A group of NV Champagnes to set the scene. The NV Mumm ‘Cordon Rouge’ rather easy and light without the greatest interest, but nice and fresh. Maybe lesser than what it is capable of. With a little more drive the NV Perrier-Jouet had more going for it, and a bit more autolysis and decent Champagne character. I’ve never been taken by the label, but here it went up a step. Having recently tried the NV Laurent-Perrier ‘Brut L-P’, I was wowed again by the tightness of structure and greater purity and class of the newest shipment. This bottle confirmed my thoughts. The NV Lanson ‘Black Label’ kept up to its bigger, more Pinot Noir and aldehydic expression, some more complexity for sure. The experts are saying the wine has become less interesting with vineyards stripped, but not here. But the perfect all-rounder could be seen in the NV Pol Roger, medium bodied, with a balance between freshness and finesse, and depth of autolytic interest. Always the subtly serious one.
A bracket of N.Z. Bubbles next. These were lesser than the Champagnes, noticeably so, but not embarrassingly so. The NV Deutz ‘Marlborough Cuvee’ soft and sweeter, the dosage evident. Pleasant and moreish. More lifted with white florals and stonefruits, the NV Pelorus showing more freshness and character. It’s greater liveliness was its drawcard. Again, another level up was the 2007 Pelorus. Definite body line and autolytic interest, and quite a statement wine. ‘Will it get to the heights of the 2006?’ was the question, ”Or is it destined to be more elegant?’ Back a step to the ultra-refined 2007 Quartz Reef Vintage, shyer in autolysis, but with cut and crispness. Lighter but with lovely finesse and a sense of minerals. The latest release of NV Nautilus Methode is another stunner, with genuine Champagne characters. This is Lot 801, and worth seeking out as another one that does it all. Also in top form is the 2007 Palliser Methode. The take on this is that is their approximation to the great Bollinger style. It has developed that way. We were given the nod that the 2007 No. Family Estate ‘Cuvee Remy’ was the one, and indeed it’s very distinctive. There’s a fresh mouthfeel with masses of autolytic complexities. Brooding, but showing what it has got, and it looks good for the future as it grows.
A mixed bag of Champagne and Kiwi Sparklers was a bridge to the big names. Two wines from the No. 1 Family Estate again, as Daniel Le Brun must be the most characterful of the bubbly makers in New Zealand. His signature NV No.1 Family Estate ‘Cuvee No. 1’ is creamy and classical Chardonnay in citrus and florals, but crowd-pleasing with a noticeable dosage. Did I say populist? Not me! The 2006 No. 1 Family Estate ‘Cuvee Virginie’ was again more complete as the’Cuvee Remy’, but more expressive and it has come together well. It needs a glass with a larger tulip bowl to open out, but its depth was evident. In ascending order of impressiveness were the NV Nicolas Feuillatte, soft and a little plain, though thoroughly vinous. The NV Lanvin showed more weight, mouthfilling presence and some autolytic interest. Usually this impresses the heck, but maybe the esteemed company put it in its place. The big eye-opener was the NV Beaumet, broader for sure, but with palate satisfaction and ticking all the necessary boxes as it flowed.
Onto the big names, and one can’t get bigger than Moet & Chandon. An all-pleasing and non-disappointing NV Moet ‘Brut Imperial’. We are all happy to see good form here, but also it was easy to move on to the 2004 Moet Vintage. A lot more in body, texture, and personality in a sinewy line. Better of course, and one you could stay with all night if the case need be. Then back to a less attention-grabbing 2003 ‘Dom Perignon’, treated as a separate brand by Moet, but we all know it’s Moet. A complete and seamless wine, without any distracting negatives, but also missing that vitality and extra ‘X-Factor’. We moved on. Bollinger next, the bigger Pinot Noir, autyloysis, aldehydic and oxidative house style. The NV Bollinger ‘Special Cuvee’ a touch sweeter and fresher, and the combination of old style and new fruitiness hit the mark. Also good was the 2002 Bollinger ‘Grande Annee’, with its singularity of the house style. Delicious, but you wonder if there’s more possible? The most complete showing at The Shaker’s as agreed by Le Martinet, SWMBO and I was that of Veuve Clicquot. A fulsome, fruity NV VCP ‘Yellow Label’. This bottle could benefit with a little bottle age, and then it might be spectacular and greater value. The NV VCP Rose also good, even finer in teture and presentation. A complete 2004 VCP Vintage, maybe a little too grunty for its own good, but there’s no denying plenty of substance. The top was their top, the 2004 VCP ‘La Grande Dame’, a mouthful but possessing finesse of style and layers unfolding revealing detail plus. This kept your interest. It had the feel of needing time too, but it sang.
I'm sure there was a lot singing at The Shaker's as the evening went on. It's a sparkling occasion.