What a treat tasting thirteen prestige cuvee’s and being able to compare the bottle vs magnum and doing it all blind. Quite early in the evening Jancis gave us a tip; look out for signs of maturity and use that as a way to identify which is the more mature, since that is most likely to be the bottle. Guests were especially keen since I had offered up as a prize, a magnum of Krug Grande Cuvee, to the person who correctly guessed the most number of magnums.
I set out to discover if champagnes from magnum taste better than from bottle and I believe what we have found out they do, since two magnums, the Louis Roederer Cristal 1996 and Krug 1998 were the highest voted on the evening. You just have to wait a chunk more time, since the magnums we tasted proved that the three from the vintages of 1996 and 1998 were barely mature. If you like those more youthful fruit and brûlée characters the magnums have them in spades, if you like secondary more mature flavours you need to drink bottles unless you are more patient and wait for the magnums to come around ready for drinking. The Cristal magnum showed it is still very young with a life of probably 25 or more years ahead and the Jeroboam of 1998 Krug, well who knows, it was incredibly youthful and was delicious now but is likely going to taste like the bottle, not for another 20 years and with an extra 6 years on the lees it surely going to end up a more complex champagne than the bottle or magnum. I guess we will just have to taste it again in 25 years and test that idea!
Thank you to Jancis for guiding us through the tasting, you shared your knowledge with us generously and delivered it in such an engaging and informal way. The team at 67 Pall Mall you helped make our first keynote champagne tasting something to remember and I hope it’s set a benchmark that is hard to beat at your brand new club for wine lovers. Each of the six champagne houses, thank you for also adding a little sparkle and sharing your wise words; thank you Philip Tuck, MW from Taittinger; Carol Batten from Bollinger, Alex Gamble from Moet Hennessey, George Prideaux from Pol Roger and Mark Bingley, MW from Louis Roederer.