The fall in the value of the Australian dollar against the euro has led to some increase in prices, but Champagne remains the most underpriced of all the great wines of France. You can’t buy good Bordeaux or Burgundy for less than $95 to $160 a bottle, the price of the nine of 12 Champagnes selected.
- 73 wines submitted
- 12 wines selected
Champagne Jacquesson Cuvee No. 738 Grand Vin Extra Brut NV
95 points, $95
The only Champagne House to declare everything on the back label: blend details (61% chardonnay, 21% meunier, 18% pinot noir), base vintage (2010), reserve wine (33%), dosage (2.5gl/), production (22 083 dozen). It is a compelling wine thanks to its harmony of flavours (citrus/toast/spice) and the seriously low dosage (the hallmark of Jacquesson) almost passing without notice in the sheer power of the palate. Terrific value.
Bollinger Special Cuvee NV
95 points, $100
The doyen of English Champagne writers, Tom Stevenson, recently opened old wounds by lambasting Bollinger (oxidation). I scratched my head, as did Tyson Stelzer. This is archetypal Bolly power, juggling very complex and ever moving flavours from 400 components, 40% barrel fermentation and maturation; 60% pinot noir, 25% chardonnay, 15% pinot meunier, mainly from Grand and Premier Cru; and 3-4 years on lees.
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV
95 points, $100
Rivals Jacquesson in the back label details. An assemblage of 80 Crus, with 40% reserve wines (50/50% chardonnay and pinot noir) and 60% from the 2007 vintage base wine (33% chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier), then spending five years on tirage. Small wonder it is one of the richest, most opulent NVs, overflowing with creamy, figgy, brioche flavours, magically retaining freshness and balance. I love it.
Veuve Fourny & Fils Vertus Brut Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru 2008
96 points, $110
Veuve Fourny has taken full advantage of the best vintage of the decade, 100% tank-fermented, some mlf, and a very low dosage of 4g/; six years on tirage. Brilliant straw-green, this is a seriously good wine, with exceptional length and intensity to its classic white flower bouquet and sizzling grapefruit, spice and sparkling-bright acidity on the prodigiously long, cleansing palate.
Veuve Clicquot Vintage Brut 2004
96 points, $118
Massive euro investments and the visionary winemaking brilliance of Dominique Demarviille have produced maximum results for Veuve Clicquot. This blend of 62% pinot noir, 30% chardonnay and 8% pinot meunier has perfect poise and balance between white peach and brioche, but even more striking is the freshness and bite to its long, lingering finish. My mouth waters in anticipation of the '08.
Pol Roger Vintage Brut 2004
97 points, $130
For decades one of Australia's darlings – and mine too. The usual Pol blend of 60% pinot noir and 40% chardonnay, it spent eight years on tirage. Gleaming straw-green, it has utterly remarkable drive, intensity and freshness to its Aladdin's Cave of white stone fruits, grilled cashews and multi-spices, the aftertaste endless, the future of the wine in bottle close thereto.
Louis Roederer Vintage Brut 2008
96 points, $135
Winemaker Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon spent years in Tasmania for the Roederer-Heemskerk joint venture too far ahead of its time. His return to Champagne saw estate vineyards increase to 235ha and the construction of a second winery. This 80% pinot noir, 20% chardonnay (50% barrel-fermented) is built for the ages, soaring with purity and intensity, racy grapefruit and apple flavours interwoven with silvery acidity, grip and persistence its hallmark.
Champagne Taittinger Brut Millesime 2008
97 points, $160
Had the soon to arrive Taittinger's 1996 Comtes de Champagne arrived in time for the tasting, it is possible this wine might have missed out, Comtes waiting for next year. This is a compelling example of Taittinger at its vintage brut best, with beautiful balance, shape and profile, fruit and acidity in perfect alignment on its long and languid palate; decades to go.
Pol Roger Vintage Blanc de Blancs 2008
97 points, $160
This 100% Cote des Blancs Grand Cru simply demands its inclusion, notwithstanding my tasting note finishing 'just a baby'. Bright green-straw hue, it has exquisite freshness and balance, the bouquet filled by scents of white flowers, the palate with pink grapefruit in a glittering necklace of acidity. Will fill you with joy tonight, wonderment five years hence. I’ve bought my share.
Billecart-Salmon Nicolas Francois Billecart Brut 2002
98 points, $350
Billecart remains the NV Rose of choice for most Champagne aficionados, but this wine is in another universe. Prima facie, there's nothing remarkable about 60% pinot noir, 40% chardonnay, 18% barrel-fermented, partial mlf and 10 years on tirage. But the explosion of citrus, spice and brioche takes your breath away, its rocket-propelled drive through the finish even more so. Twenty years to go? Its ancestors say so.
Dom Perignon Vintage Rose 2004
98 points, $549
Just arrived in Australia, after 10 years on tirage. Bright salmon-pink, it is 60% pinot noir, 40% chardonnay. The bouquet is an utterly entrancing mix of wild strawberries and spices of every kind, the palate a gloriously vibrant and fresh replay of the bouquet, framed by crystalline acidity, the dosage perfect. Expensive? Not when compared to a 2005 Grand Cru Burgundy.
Next: Best reds over $20