I was lucky enough to witness such a sight and taste through a few stellar Champagnes at a recent tasting dinner at one of my favorite DC restaurants, Ripple. DC was packed with wine lovers for the annual Heart’s Delight Wine Auction, which spans several days and includes a crazy amount of wine events. I wasn’t able to attend any of them because I’m expecting a baby girl any day now. But I got out for an evening and gathered with some friends old and new for a night of amazing wine, food and merriment.
The room was overflowing with epic bottles. I was able to taste through and take notes on31, but I missed at least a dozen more. I’m only human. But the Champagnes really stole the show. No matter how many wine events I go to, I still consider myself incredibly lucky when I get to taste wines as beautiful and memorable as these.
I started off with a 1980 Dom Pérignon, which was unfortunately dead on arrival. Oxidized and dried out, it still had some interesting flavors, but not a proper bottle. Luckily, the rest of the bottles (almost all magnums) stepped up and blew me away.
1998 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon P2 - France, Champagne
Lovely floral-chalky nose. Quite tight at first, powerful acid and richness. Quince, lime, white peach, laced with white flowers, toasted nuts, honey, crushed oyster shells. Opens up tremendously and, when re-tasted at the end of the evening, it was showing lots of caramel, candied orange peel, complex breadsticks and butter notes. So much time ahead it’s crazy, but amazing to taste this young. (94 points)
1998 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Cuvée Creation - France, Champagne
Rich and intense yet lively and bracing. Brioche, gorgeous minerals, spice and potpourri. Long, intense, such purity, a lovely Champagne. Wow. I have “wow” and “elegance” written down three times apiece. Absurdly good. From magnum. (96 points)
2002 Egly-Ouriet Champagne Grand Cru Brut Millésimé - France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne
Intense, brioche, white tea, lots of green and yellow apple, toasted almond. Youthful, bright, brisk, oceanic, holding its weight well with the intense acid and bracing minerals. Hesitant though, you can tell it has much more to show. From magnum. (91 points)
2002 Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon - France, Champagne
Intense stuff, very young but powerful red apple peel, screaming minerals, toasted baguette and mixed nuts. Powerful yet pretty. A joy to taste and ponder. (92 points)
1985 Jacquesson & Fils Champagne Signature Brut - France, Champagne
So alive and bright, I can’t believe this is 30 years old. Notes of peanut oil, honey and dried pineapple, but it’s balanced with bright acid, rushing minerals and a salty complexity. Gorgeous stuff, so alive and unique. From magnum. (94 points)