2002 Prestige Cuvée Champagne – Pre Tasting with Jancis Robinson MW

Wednesday 21st September The Finest Bubble and Jancis Robinson convened around the tasting table to sample an array of Vintage 2002 Champagnes so we could evaluate the tier of vintage champagnes before the big tasting of 2002 prestige cuvees at 67 Pall Mall. Ten champagnes in total, tasted blind. We were testing if the hype about this vintage was indeed justified.


Many things have been written about the 2002‘s, it was indeed an outstanding vintage, and many say that it is most likely the best of the decade. The greatest champagne vintages of recent years and I have to say it is up there with the likes of 1996 & 1990. All of the critics agree that it is a vintage of exceptional diversity, full of gems at every level and top quality from the most prestigious of regions.  The Champagne Advocate writes “The finest 2002s are powerful, firmly structured and truly mineral but neither lack freshness nor finesse.”

A year that supplied near-perfect growing conditions, capped by fine dry weather at harvest, the 2002 Champagnes have proven to be hugely age worthy across the board, with exceptional, opulent fruit held in check by keen acidity.

Considered an unusually concentrated year, the 2002 Champagnes combine power, richness and structure with impeccable balance.  We were now to agree or disagree with this and to be honest I do love my job at times like this I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon!

Tasted blind the scores are as follows..

Champagne 1 – Laurent-Perrier Vintage 2002

The first Champagne showed the age in the colour of the Champagne, dark golden yellow with a delightful stream of bubbles.  On the nose there was a honey character with some peach and apricot.  It still had nice acidity, sounded, hint of sweetness and reasonable length of flavour.

Combined Score – 16.8


Champagne 2 – Pol Roger 2002 en Magnum

A more youthful looking than 1st champagne with a lighter yellow in colour; a good toasty brioche nose and on the palate and more of those developed creamy flavours on the palate with lovely acidity and a long lingering finish. Delicious.

Combined Score = 17.7


Champagne 3 – Bollinger R.D 2002

Honey and sherbet and some peach on the nose underlying a bunch of dried fruits and on the palate some lemon and toast with some lovely peach flavours and good length.  A touch of oak at the end, very dry, not a hint of sweetness and all in all a good powerful Champagne.

Combined Score = 17.2

bollinger-rd-2002Champagne 4 – Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2002

The nose on this Champagne was a little subdued and on the palate there was some toffee and brioche flavours, but it did seem lacking in both freshness and fruit.  A rather disappointing Champagne if I am honest. After the champagnes were revealed we decided to open another bottle, but this was very similar, lacking the power we normally get in Churchill.

Combined Score = 15.2

Champagne 5 – Taittinger Brut Reserve 2002

A lovely nose, rich and creamy with toasty brioche and apricots.  On the palate it had a little bit less acidity, than the others and a bit more residual sugar, but this is very appealing.

Combined Score = 16.2

Champagne 6 – Bollinger Grand Annee 2002

Quite developed character on the nose with all those lovely toasty notes, a little honey and some apricot; on the palate it is brioche and toffee with good length and a long quite toasty finish.

Combined Score = 16.8

Champagne 7 – Louis Roederer Cristal 2002

This Champagne is very floral on the nose with hints of jasmine and lime.  A lightness on the palate, lacking a little in depth of fruit.  Quite a hit of acidity on the finish. After reveal we all noted this is not like any of our previous experiences with this champagne, so we have hit an unlucky bottle.

Combined Score = 17

Champagne 8 – Taittinger Comtes 2002 Blanc de Blancs

Orange Blossom and brioche on both the nose and palate, with a toasty finish.  Smokey and lush fruit with good acidity and a little sweetness at the end.  There is still a big chunk of acidity in there too and the flavours delight and linger long on the palate.

Combined Score = 18.3 (overall favourite)

Champagne 9 – Louis Roederer 2002

Apple and peaches on the nose and palate, with some honey and butter on the palate.  Good length and a nice fruity finish and still seems quite tight and undeveloped.

Combined Score = 16.5

Champagne 10 – Pol Roger 2002 Bottle

On the nose this is fairly complex with orange blossom, jasmine and brioche on both the nose and palate.  It has lots of juicy fruit and toast on the finish.  Good length, great acidity and a long finish.

Combined Score = 17.2

I have to say we were very surprised by some of the Champagnes and delighted by others.  The Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill was one such Champagne that really didn’t score well at all, none of us gave it a decent mark and it should by all rights have been sublime.  We gave it the benefit of the doubt and opened another bottle, but that was equally as disappointing

The out and out winner was the Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2002, which was 100% Chardonnay.  Looking back on other tastings we have all done, I have to say we do appear to love Blanc de Blancs and this was no exception with beautiful fruit and length and really, really delicious.

Final Results

  1. 18.3 – Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2002
  2. 17.7 – Pol Roger 2002 en Magnum
  3. 17.2 – Pol Roger 2002
  4. 17.2 – Bollinger R.D. 2002
  5. 17.0 – Louis Roederer Cristal 2002
  6. 16.8 – Bollinger La Grande Année 2002
  7. 16.8 – Laurent-Perrier Vintage 2002
  8. 16.5 – Louis Roederer Vintage 2002
  9. 16.2 – Taittinger Vintage 2002
  10. 15.2 – Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2002


As most of the Champagnes we tasted were vintage and not the Prestige Cuvée tier then I am so looking forward to the tasting next week, because the vintage really did blow our socks off and I have no doubt that step up in quality will blow the roof off 67 Pall Mall. We at TFB seriously can’t wait.