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San Diego, California, 92121
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Holiday Champagne

Gary Parker, Owner
The WineSellar & Brasserie

Most of us know we can research tasting notes and scores from wine critics and experts on just about any wine that is sold in the United States. Many people rely on these ratings from various publications. However, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

Another point of reference is to consider the results of the 100 people who tasted over two-dozen hand-selected Champagne and sparkling wines at our annual Grande Champagne Tasting last month. This mass of bubbling wine aficionado’s was a good cross-section of our populace, as they have varying taste preferences and economic prowess. In the end, they voted with their pocketbooks and their opinions. In order of popularity (by bottles sold), the results are below.

1st Place:
Pierre Peters, Brut Cuvee, Reserve Grand Cru, Non-Vintage $65

This is a Blanc de Blancs, meaning it is made from 100% Chardonnay. Everyone loved it for its vibrant feel in the mouth, while still retaining an amazing amount of elegance and harmony. The flavors are driven by the chalky soil, in addition to flavors of poached pear, apple blossom, and pickled ginger. And if you don’t want to believe 100 people, it rated 93 points in The Wine Spectator!

2nd Place:
Gaston Chiquet, Brut Tradition, Non-Vintage   $41
This Champagne has aromas of brioche, yeast, pear, anise, honey and a hint of lemon. There is a wonderful feel in the palate, with a fine, delicate “mousse” (bubble dispersion in the mouth). Notes of fresh apricot, white peach and toasted almond linger on the very long finish. Oh, and 92 Points in The Wine Spectator.

3rd Place:
Paul Laurent, Brut Rose’, Non-Vintage   $38
This was the bargain of the tasting! Made from 65% Pinot Noir, 16% Pinot Meunier, 10% Chardonnay, and 9% Still Pinot Noir, giving this wine a salmon/pinkish hue. The bubbles are active, and the palate feel is lively. There is a distinctive taste of red raspberry, strawberry, and even detectable Pinot Noir fruit. Lovely!

OK, so that’s what 100 people think. I think they chose wisely, but I need to throw in my 2 cents.

Cent #1
Taittinger, Brut “La Francaise”, Non-Vintage $40
To my taste, this is one heck of a bottle of Champagne, especially for the price. Firstly, you have high marquee name recognition in Taittinger, producing a consistent high quality Champagne. It has a nice fresh toasted white bread aromatic, with hints of peach and ginger. Great palate feel, acid (it’s GREAT with food) and the mousse are top notch. Scoring 90 points in two major publications. This wine sold one bottle less than the third place wine above.

Cent #2
Dom Ruinart, Ruinart, Brut Blanc de Blancs, 2006  $200
This was the wine of the tasting, outdueling the Dom Perignon, La Grande Dame, and dare I say, I like it better the ubiquitous Louis Roederer Cristal (at an additional $75-$100 per bottle). Some people have favorite wineries, this is my favorite Champagne house. I happen to love everything they make. It’s like they thought of me and figured out how to make Champagne I love and cherish.

Simply gorgeous, fashioned by 100% Chardonnay, acting more like a great white Burgundy with its richness, finesse, with super fine bubbles. Length of the finish is astounding. The bottle will age 20-plus years, and I hope to still have a few of these around at that time. This is a true investment in your quality of life, and should be enjoyed in the celebrations that may happen along the way.

 

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