Tasting of 88 Champagnes from 1988

When champagne fanatic Peter Crawford organises a tasting, it is always an occasion to remember. His latest mission? To celebrate the 30th birthday of his favourite vintage by tasting as many champagnes from 1988 that he could acquire. Impressively – although somewhat unsurprisingly given his avidity for all things French and sparkling – Crawford managed to source a quite appropriate 88 bottles of champagne from this famous year.

The line-up covered an array of producers and styles, from small growers to Grande Marques and Blanc de Blancs to Single Vineyards, and included an astonishing 35 magnums and a jeroboam. An occasion simply too beguiling to turn down, we travelled to Reims last weekend to participate in this hedonistic jamboree.

With such a huge range to be tasted, the event was divided into three parts. Part 1 took place over dinner at the luxurious Domaine Les Crayères, a classic French chateau in the heart of Reims boasting double Michelin-starred chef Philippe Mille and globally renown champagne expert Philippe Jamesse, and included a majority of champagnes from smaller producers with a few vintage-category blends from the bigger houses thrown in.

Parts 2 and 3 took place over lunch and dinner at the five-star hotel and restaurant L’Assiette Champenoise, which plays host to three Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Lallement and is almost as famous as the region in which it is located. Lunch saw us continue with the smaller growers and house champagnes, whilst dinner was a veritable feast of decadence that saw the prestige cuvées from the Grande Marques unleashed – the majority poured from magnum. Parts 1 and 2 were tasted blind and Part 3 was tasted sighted.


“1988 for me is the vintage” – Peter Crawford


Crawford, the breadth of whose knowledge and infectious gusto make it difficult to believe his infatuation with champagne is but a hobby, admits he is besotted with 1988. Introducing the weekend’s events, he commented: “1988 for me is the vintage. It’s the one that really got me involved in champagne and the one I fell in love with.”

Noting how both the vintage and the champagne region itself have evolved in the three decades since 1988, he added: “It was very austere to start off with but it has become more generous, more giving, and with the secondary and tertiary notes, it really has exploded. I think it is one of the great wines of that era and really the last great vintage before global warming started to take hold and we see the wines that we see today… which, although there have been some great acidic years, generally the acidity has started to slow down.”

Overall, it was an unforgettable weekend of indulgent discovery that served to reinforce our respect and admiration for the everlasting power of one of champagne’s greatest vintages. Whilst some examples were inevitably beginning to display signs of oxidation, the vast majority were still stunningly youthful with years left to give.

Amidst all the champagne, we were also afforded a unique opportunity to taste a reserve wine from 1988. Veuve Clicquot cellar master Dominique Demarville had kindly provided a bottle of Chardonnay still wine, produced from grapes grown in the Grand Cru village of Cramant, which is famous for producing some of freshest and most complex Chardonnay wines in the entirety of Champagne. Veuve Clicquot Cramant 1988 is a perfect example of how majestically Chardonnay can mature over decades and still retain freshness, and features in the first blend of Veuve Clicquot Extra Brut Extra Old MV.


Veuve Clicquot Cramant Vin Blancs 1988 | 19.5/20

The 1988 Cramant reserve wine used in Extra Old Extra Brut blend. Big fruit nose, with lots of lychees and jasmine and an orange and marmalade character. Bundles of freshness on the palate. Wow; spiciness and freshness in spades. Written after blind – a fabulous ingredient to have as a reserve wine. Thank you Dominique for sharing this!


Our thanks to Crawford for having the passion to conceive of such an elaborate tasting, and the zest to bring it to reality; to the Maisons who kindly shared exquisite treasures direct from their cellars for our delectation; and to the teams at Domaine Les Crayères and L’Assiette Champenoise for matching the imposing champagne line-ups pound-for-pound with first class food and service.

The full list of champagnes tasted are presented below in score order. Champagnes that have scored below 14/20 or have not been given a score were faulty or unbalanced. Technical information for champagnes of this age can take some time to source; this article will be updated as and when we receive disgorgement dates etc.

For easier viewing, the food menus and TFB scoring tables (with and without tasting notes) can be downloaded as PDFs below.

Part 1 – Dinner Menu at Domaine Les Crayères
Part 2 – Lunch Menu at L’Assiette Champenoise
Part 3 – Dinner Menu at L’Assiette Champenoise

88 1988s in Score Order
88 1988s in Score Order with Tasting Notes


Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé 1988 | 20/20 | Rank: 1
55% PN, 45% CH

Very beautiful nose, quite floral and delicate. Wow, what great fruit this has! Acidity and freshness and lovely texture; rich and soft with loads of fruit. This ends beautifully with long length and just goes on and on.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1988 Magnum | 19.5+/20 | Rank: =2
100% CH

Reductive notes with hints of spice, that chalky edge and vanilla creaminess. Great texture you notice right at start, bright acidity and layers of fruit; pineapple and apricots and vanilla cream. This is very elegant and youthful, has formidable power, great length and stunning finesse. My star so far.
Dom Pérignon P3 1988 Magnum | 19.5+/20 | Rank: =2
55% CH, 45% PN

Lovely gunflint character and loads of fruits, really ripe and lush; such great mousse and personality. This has dried grass and figs and dried apricots, with dried lemon peel and orange. Great length and freshness, loads of iodine on the end lifts it up and so fresh. This has so much freshness you could drink it for 20+ years. Wow!
Krug 1988 Magnum
 | 19.5+/20 | Rank: =2
50% PN, 32% CH, 18% PM
So many alluring qualities; orange blossom, very concentrated dried lemon and nectarine with good weight of fruit and texture. Really great acidity and dosage just seems to sit perfectly with the lees. Some salinity that lifts it at the end. Great length that goes on.
Legras & Haas Brut Blanc de Blancs 1988 | 19+/20 | Rank: =5
100% CH

Noticeably lighter, youthful colour and full on reductive toasty character. Loads of peaches and cream and dried apricots with multiple layers. Creamy custard and a great texture; this sits beautifully on the tongue making you want another glass.
Taittinger Réserve Millésime 1988 Magnum
 | 19+/20 | Rank: =5
60% PN, 40% CH
Very seductive nose, some reductive hints with lots of engaging elements. Very clean and fresh with good mousse and texture. Some pineapple and really ripe guava, apple pie pastry with such pleasurable texture. Very long.
Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 1988 Jeroboam | 19+/20 | Rank: =5
Likely 70-80% PN, 20-30% CH
Screaming reductive gunflint nose, this is a good bottle with loads of lime, lemon and pineapple. Layers added by the lees character with great freshness and this reminds of a great Riesling with bottle age. The red berries come out more on the palate; raspberry and cherry. Big and powerful with a great mouthfeel, I think this will develop more in the glass and definitely in the bottle.
Louis Roederer Cristal 1988 Magnum | 19+/20 | Rank: =5
52% CH, 48% PN
Intensely chalky and dense dried fruits, citrus, figs and grapefruit. Lovely engaging palate, great texture and power on the in the mouth, with richness and freshness and wow that seaweed iodine finish. Has some real density and length.
Dom Pérignon Rosé 1988 Magnum
 | 19+/20 | Rank: =5
60% PN, 40% CH
Original disgorgement. Strong reductive flinty nose, loads of dark cherry and some lovely lees character adding a real creaminess. Hints of tannins from the red wine and loads of blackberry. Great freshness and just seems really youthful. Finishes with a rose petal end, very elegant.

Dom Ruinart Rosé 1988 Magnum | 19/20 | Rank: 10
80% CH, 20% PN | Dosage: 5.5 g/l

Powerful redcurrants and delicate rose water, has dark cherry and real creamy character with lees. Some hint of lemon and wow great length and that lift from the slight salty finish.
Pierre Péters Les Chétillons Blanc de Blancs Réserve Familiale 1988 Magnum
 | 18.5+/20 | Rank: =11
100% CH
Nice and clean, some reductive notes like gun flint. Vibrant fruit and energy on the palate with loads of ripe lemons and bundles of nuttiness and tangerine. The lees texture really lifting it up at the end. Nice salty finish. Very good.
J-L Vergnon Blanc de Blancs 1988
 | 18.5+/20 | Rank: =11
100% CH
Very full on, quite a lot of positive oxidative character like nice sherry hints with loads of honey and vanilla notes. Good spritz showing, quite dry and lots of acidity, with loads of fruits, lime, lemons, apricots and nuts. Has some earthy character and forest floor personality. Disgorged very recently. Peter comments “This is one of the freshest I’ve drunk.”
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 1988 Magnum
 | 18.5+/20 | Rank: =11
57% PN, 32% CH, 12% PM
Original release. Hint of reductive notes and with so much freshness and bright fruits like apples and cherry and redcurrant. Great texture and so much apple and pastry. Light dosage and fresh acidity. This is a real pleasure.
Paul Bara Spécial Club Blanc de Noirs 1988 | 18.5/20 | Rank: 14
100% PN
Lots of fresh fruit, pears and apples. Some custard and pastry character, lovely liveliness in the middle. Wow this is so young and fresh and what lovely texture. Very good.
Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 1988 Magnum | 18.5/20 | Rank: =14
50% PN, 30% CH, 20% PM

Lovely fresh pineapple with hints of reduction adding a flinty character. Quite creamy, loads of pear and ripe apples and a slight grass and hay-like character. Great texture, loads of lime and lees character and great length.
Lanson Gold Label 1988 Magnum
 | 18.5/20 | Rank: =14
51% PN, 49% CH
Seemingly fresh with a youthful character and great bubbles coming through. Has lots of nuttiness and power and refreshing acidity, a hint of saltiness on the end lifting and keeping it light.
Krug Grande Cuvée Edition 144 NV | 18.5/20 | Rank: =14
Vintages: Youngest 1988, Oldest 1966

Based on 1988, the oldest wine is from 1966. Heaps of lemon fresh citrus and light lees character. Layers and layers of peaches, dried apricots and ripe fruit with lovely acidity and great length. Dried figs and hazelnuts. Texture feels so great on the tongue.
Lanson Noble Cuvée Brut 1988 | 18.5/20 | Rank: =14
60% CH, 40% PN | Lees Ageing: 7 Years | Disgorged: 1996 | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 22 Years
Original disgorgement, estimated 1996. Very young nose, no evolution and loads of ripe pear and chalky character with hints of jasmine. On the palate you get great weight of fruit and very bright acidity. Impressive texture, lots of lees character and some pastry creaminess with a low dosage? Dry finish that lingers. Very good.
André Jacquart Expérience Blancs de Blancs 1988 | 18+/20 | Rank: =19
100% CH

Vibrant tropical fruit with a good spritz and this is young and lively, pineapple and peaches and all those warm fruits. Freshness and texture on the palate, the acidity seems very bright and in your face so a lower dosage? Disgorged just two weeks ago!
Selosse Collection Moon Blanc de Blancs 1988
 | 18+/20 | Rank: =19
100% CH | Lees Ageing: 8 Years | Disgorged: 1997 | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 21 Years
Very woody and oxidative. Distinct woolly sheep character on the nose with a great and broad mouthfeel. Good acidity and loads of lees character. Mass of nuts, apricots and raisins with coffee and chocolate. Can’t drink a lot but wonderful.
De Saint Gall Cuvée Orpale Blanc de Blancs 1988 | 18+/20 | Rank: =19
100% CH
Really forward lemon, concentrated lime and so much peach and apple freshness. Loads of tart tatin and creaminess. Quite soft acidity and very rich. Very good length and very elegant – a wine to sit and enjoy.
De Venoge 1988 Magnum
 | 18+/20 | Rank: =19
Lees Ageing: 22 Years | Disgorged: 2011 | Post-Disgorgement: 7 Years
Plenty of reduction, really draws you in. Has freshness and toasty notes and the acidity seems quite soft. The dosage is quite light, which has created a good balance. Loads of pastry, cooked apple and vanilla notes. Great length with a hint of iodine helping it.
Mailly Les Échansons 1988 | 18+/20 | Rank: =19
75% PN, 25% CH
Spicy reductiveness and really engaging; draws you in to taste. Some creamy pastries, custard, softer acidity and light spritz. Great amount of lees character and creaminess, this is a graceful champagne.
Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru Vinothèque 1988 | 18/20 | Rank: =24
100% CH

Much more powerful and creamy on the nose; romatic jasmine with slight toffee notes. Has an elegance and light spritz and good iodine lift on the end. Vibrant and long finish.
Bollinger R.D. 1988 Magnum
 | 18/20 | Rank: =24
72% PN, 28% CH | Lees Ageing: 13 Years | Disgorged: March 2002 | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 16 Years
Marzipan and nuttiness and fresh acidity with loads of bottle development and richness. Probably a few years past its peak as getting a bit dry. But very good level of fruit and personality.
Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle MV | 18/20 | Rank: =24
Vintages: 1988, 1985, 1985 | 55% CH, 45% PN
A blend of 1988, 1985 and 1982. Cork code B69. Full ripe fruits like plums come through with toasty notes, layers of lees character and nuttiness with marzipan and those forest floor hints like mushrooms and dry leaves. The freshness from the acidity lifts it up at the end and hints of iodine character keep it fresh with good length.
Pierre Gimmonet Blanc de Blancs Millésime Collection 1988 Magnum | 18/20 | Rank: =24
100% CH
Has a fresher character than the previous three, the magnum factor is showing as it is much younger and less evolved. Nice delicacy of honey and almonds with plenty of fresh acidity and light dosage. This is fresh and bright on the finish and a nice lift of salinity.
Henriot 1988 Magnum | 18/20 | Rank: =24
45% PN, 55% CH
Full and rich nose with lots of lees character and classiness. Feels like it isn’t trying, quite dry and fresh acidity, leaving it light despite its great weight.
Salon Blanc de Blancs 1988 Magnum | 18/20 | Rank: =24
100% CH

Initially some toffee butter and hints of hay, gooseberry and loads of chalk. Very fresh on the palate with bright acidity and a fine mousse. Very precise and generous fruit, bright acidity but does finish off short and a little bit bitter.
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 1988 Magnum | 18/20 | Rank: =24
62% PN, 38% CH

Lots of fresh fruit and pineapple and cooked apples. Wow, great texture with lots of lees character and fresh acidity. Chalkiness, rich peach and lemons. Great length.
Cattier Clos du Moulin Brut Premier Cru NV | 17.5+/20 | Rank: =31
50% CH, 50% PN | Base Vintage: 1988 | Dosage: 10 g/l

Based on 1988, with some 1986 and 1985 reserve wines. Lots of toasty notes straight out and a healthy dollop of creamy vanilla custard. Soft and gentle on the palate, quite relaxed fizz, mostly subdued. Relatively light acidity and soft creamy notes, with loads of almonds and bright lime character. Probably at its peak freshness on the end with iodine lift.
Franck Bonville Blanc de Blancs 1988
 | 17.5+/20 | Rank: =31
100% CH
Started subtle with apricots dominant, subtle jasmine and orange blossom with lemon notes. Nice gentle fizz it’s low RS and acidity forward, some peach kernels and nuttiness showing its fine age.
Vazart-Coquart Blanc de Blancs Le Millésime 1988
 | 17.5+/20 | Rank: =31
100% CH
Delicate and evolved with bright acidity and light dosage. Lots of chalkiness and then layers of mushroom character with good levels of fruit concentration – reminds me of really ripe peaches and hints of dark cherries. Bright and fresh all the way through.
Lilbert Blanc de Blancs 1988
 | 17.5+/20 | Rank: =31
100% CH
Very golden rich colour and lovely sleepy nose, great reductive qualities with bundles of fruits and great lift of acidity and freshness with great length. Nice cooked apples and pastry notes come through on second taste. Gets better with time in the glass.
Philipponnat Grand Blanc 1988 Magnum
 | 17.5+/20 | Rank: =31
100% CH
Lots of peaches and menthol. Really quite forward with maturity and nuttiness and hints of cigar. Slightly meaty with cherry notes. Very soft acidity and dry, low dosage.
Laurent-Perrier Millésime Rare 1988 Magnum
 | 17.5+/20 | Rank: =31
A lot lighter, can see the colour which suggests its bottle size as most are golden. Quite reductive qualities so that match strike and flinty character, with peachy fresh fruits, loads of lees and creaminess, great bubbles and lower dosage bringing the acidity forward. Bright and fresh, seems ridiculously young.
Guy Michel Paris Folie Cuvée Saveurs d’Automne Brut 1988 | 17.5+/20 | Rank: =31
70% PN, 30% CH

Initially get some raspberry and rhubarb and it smells quite floral. Quite high dosage, with loads of peaches and apricot and bright acidity. Has some of that old Chenin Blanc character, you think you are in Vouvray and expect sweetness. Ends fresh with good acidity.
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Rich Reserve 1988
 | 17.5+/20 | Rank: =31
68% PN, 32% CH | Dosage: 35 g/l
Rich candied nose with lots of marzipan and nuts. Wow, this is Demi-Sec (35 g/l), loads of sweetness and ends quite fresh with a good balance of acidity.
Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 1988 Magnum
 | 17.5+/20 | Rank: =31
50% CH, 45% PN, 5% PM
Full of life with lime and liquorish and gunflint reductive character. Lots of lees and pastry that gets fuller on the palate. Good richness and the fruit lingers. A little short with the trademark bitter finish.
Billecart-Salmon Nicolas-François Billecart 1988 | 17.5+/20 | Rank: =31

This has rich tropical fruits and a rich colour. So much richness on the palate, bit oxidative, but its got some great lees character, fruit and nuttiness. Ends fresh.
Guy Charlemagne B.C. Origine Les Chétillons Blanc de Blancs 1988 Magnum | 17.5/20 | Rank: =41
100% CH

Upfront and a hint of menthol. Still some youthful character, loads of freshness and peaches and cream coming out with a nice iodine lift on the end. Great length and freshness.
Maurice Vesselle Millésime 1988 | 17.5/20 | Rank: =41
80% PN, 20% CH

Very forward fruits, ripeness and that balance of oxidative character. raisins and cooked apples. This is very full on with a great ending.
René Geoffroy Empreinte 1988 | 17.5/20 | Rank: =41

Some of that strong golden green colour with a full on raisin nose and lively, bright acidity. Loads of fruit and nuttiness and spiciness. That combo of oxidative character and nuttiness.
Jacquesson Grand Vin Signature 1988 Magnum | 17.5/20 | Rank: =41
50% CH, 50% PN

Lots of aromatics and distinct peach character with a real lively fizz, loads of lime and lemons and lees character. Acidity is very fresh. Medium weight, keeps going.
R.H. Coutier 1988 | 17.5/20 | Rank: =41

Lighter colour, so lots of reductive character and very alive on the palate. Cooked apples, lees character, some nuttiness and noticeable dosage but enough acidity to leave your palate really fresh.
Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle 1988
 | 17.5/20 | Rank: =41
52% CH, 48% PN
Very ripe fruits, quite creamy; almost too creamy and wow how much dried fruits. Has some good acidity and richness and lees character.
Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Alexandra Rosé 1988 | 17.5/20 | Rank: =41
80% PN, 20% CH
Lots of red berry fruits and some blackberry. Real creamy menthol character, quite dry on the palate with loads of black cherry and good texture. Bright acidity, lots of black fruits on the finish, ends a little dry and bitter.
Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Elizabeth Salmon Rosé 1988 | 17.5/20 | Rank: =41

This has a forest fruit character, quite forward and rich and some great lees personality. On the palate it has concentration and bright red fruits. Good length.
Robert Moncuit Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 1988 | 17/20 | Rank: =49
100% CH

Quite forward, some oxidative notes coming through but there is still lots of life with peaches and lime richness, loads of honey and a fresh iodine lift on the finish.
R&L Legras Cuvée St-Vincent Blanc de Blancs 1988
 | 17/20 | Rank: =49
100% CH
Seems restrained after the earlier three, some hints of evolution though. Loads of ripe apple and pineapple and the freshness on the palate is there. Seems slightly aggressive by itself so will enjoy this with the next course.
G.H Mumm Cordon Rouge Millésime 1988 | 17/20 | Rank: =49

Very forward ripe fruits with some oxidative qualities. Great texture, really ripe fruit and so much raisin and mushroom and layers of lemon and lime. Wow, what a nice freshness and really coffee and chocolate finish.
Henriet Bazin Grand Cru Millésime 1988
 | 17/20 | Rank: =49
Lots of evolution with some red fruits hiding behind the power of peaches and cream and moderate oxidative notes. Great texture and lots of lemons, oranges and fresh acidity.
Demière Récolte 1988 | 17/20 | Rank: =49

This has lots of fresh ripe fruits, some raspberry and loads of dried fruits like lemon and lime. This is really complex and long with loads of things like coffee and chocolate.
Tarlant Millésime 1988 | 17/20 | Rank: =49

Initially reminds you of liquid toffee with lots of apricot and peaches. Hints of age with a real nuttiness and dried fruits and more freshness with the acidity and power. Ends really gracefully.
Bollinger La Grande Année 1988 Magnum
 | 17/20 | Rank: =49
Some orange character with caramel leads onto peaches and apricot and loads of dried fruit, followed by lemon citrus and more clementines and peaches. Great freshness from good level of acidity and hints of salty iodine on the finish.
De Telmont Cuvée Grand Couronnement Blanc de Blancs 1988
 | 17/20 | Rank: =49
100% CH
Peaches and apricots and distinct toffee notes. Loads of dried fruit and fresh acidity. This has subtlety but is very big. Finished well with salinity.
Duval-Leroy Cuvée Des Roys 1988 Magnum | 17/20 | Rank: =49

A lot of peach kernel, some evolution and good freshness on the palate. Loads of fresh bubbles, guessing recent disgorgement, acidity quite bright, dosage quite low and loads of lemon and lime. Not overly complex, but good.
Pol Roger Brut 1988 Magnum | 17/20 | Rank: =49
60% PN, 40% CH

Dark amber with evolution and raisin character. On the palate it gives more; loads of lees, raisins, cooked apples, pastry and nice refreshing acidity. Its now almost gone completely still, but the palate is nice.
Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 1988 Magnum
 | 17/20 | Rank: =49
100% CH
Quite dark golden colour with evolution and a rich lemon character. Dried apricots and lees with dried fruit concentration. Quite dry and fig-like fruit. Quite short. Probably not a good bottle?
Deutz Cuvée William Deutz 1988 | 17/20 | Rank: =49

Very reductive nose; so those gun flint characters and then you get into it and has lots of pear and cooked apples and a hint of cinnamon. Some creaminess and quite a soft and round palate with good lees character and a rich balanced palate.
Dom Pérignon Rosé P3 1988 Magnum
 | 17/20 | Rank: =49
60% PN, 40% CH
Big forward gun flint nose with lots of berries and lees. This doesn’t seem like a really recent disgorgement as seems to have too much bottle age characteristic. Has some fruit stripped, as this has way less fruit than the P1, which is very generous.
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rosé 1988 Magnum
 | 17/20 | Rank: =49
62% PN, 38% CH
Bundles of red berry fruit with hints of menthol character. Some of those red fruits come through on the palate, the acidity is quite forward and the fruit seems quite light. I am guessing this isn’t a great bottle.
Alain Thienot Grande Cuvée 1988 | 16.5+/20  | Rank: 63

Lots of evolution and almost charcoal-like character. Loads of cooked apples and fresh acidity and some lime with a rich texture, but quite a bitterness on the finish.
Delamotte Collection Blanc de Blancs 1988 | 16.5/20 | Rank: =64
100% CH
100% CH | Lees Ageing: 7 Years | Disgorged: 1996 | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 22 Years

Direct from the Maison, original 1996 disgorgement. Bright fresh peaches and apples, with that slight wet wool character and lots of tart tatin, balanced acidity with dry finish.
Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé 1988 | 16.5/20 | Rank: =64
50% CH, 45% PN, 5% PM

Light raspberry and quite menthol with lots of strawberry, blackberry and fresh acidity. This is a little aggressive than the last two and finishes quite short; the acidity comes forward.
A. Margaine Brut Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs 1988⁣ | 16+/20 | Rank: 66
100% CH
Lots of apricot and nuts. Bubbles are quite light. Some good nuttiness and apricots on the palate as the oxidative notes come forward. A little dried out at the end.
Castelnau Collection Oenothèque 1988 Magnum | 16/20 | Rank: =67

Lots of baked apples and hints of herbaceous character. Very dry and slightly grating on the palate. Seems a bit out of balance.
Boizel Joyau de France 1988 | 16/20 | Rank: =67
Quite floral and feminine and slightly chalky, smells bitter but how can that be? On the palate this has quite a bit of TCA that is killing the fruit… hence the bitter smell.
Besserat de Bellefon Réserve 1988 | 16/20 | Rank: =67
Rich, deep golden colour with loads of development, nuttiness and loads of almond character. Dried raisins, fresh acidity and good length; finishes a little bitter.
Bonnaire Blanc de Blancs Millésime 1988| 16/20 | Rank: =67
100% CH
Rich, golden colour shining in the light. Quite subtle and almost shy at present, has a hint of TCA but not bad – its bringing the acidity forward. Some good fruit still holding on but just no luck with this one as fruit has been stripped back a little.
Vilmart & Cie 1988
 | 16/20 | Rank: =67
Gone quite orange and the nose is quite evolved. Can feel the texture on the palate, has lots of cooked apples and hints of creamy pastry. Wow lots of sweetness that masks the oxidised character. Probably would have been great 5+ years ago, now on its decline.
Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 1988 Magnum | 16/20 | Rank: =67
70% PN, 30% CH
Some musty character, quite forest mushroom character with some blackberry. On the palate has lots of honey and seems quite aggressive. Lots of acidity and finishes bitter. Guessing this isn’t quite right.
Bollinger Vieilles Vines Françaises 1988
 | 16/20 | Rank: =67
100% PN
Very evolved nose with lots of cooked apples and dried raisins. Seems very advanced with bright acidity, raisins and cooked apples. Quite concentrated but now with age seems out of balance with the oxidative character taking over; leather and things are coming too forward.
Leclerc Briant Collection 1988 | 15.5/20 | Rank: =74
Lots of amber colour with an advanced nose, some softer acidity and more dosage. Almost a still wine with a bitter finish.
Bruno Michel 1988 | 15.5/20 | Rank: =74

Lots of pastry and cooked apples. Bright acidity and some black cherries in the background with lees character. Again, a little too old.
Sugot Feneuil Blanc de Blancs 1988 | 15/20 | Rank: =76
100% CH

Has quite an advanced sherry-like nose with wet wool and quite a dried out palate. Loads of nuts, acidity and dried fruits. Guessing it would have been shining 10 years ago.
A.R Lenoble Collection Rare Blanc de Blancs 1988 | 15/20 | Rank: =76
100% CH
Showing lots of evolution with ripe apples and peaches. Very soft bubbles and very bright acidity on the palate. Quite short and a hint bitter on the finish. Just a little too old.
Gosset Celebris 1988 | 14/20 | Rank: 78
63% CH, 37% PN

Very amber gold, darker than most with green hints. Very oxidative and bright acids – leaves you a bit in shock. This seems a long way past its drinking window.
Agrapart & Fils Minéral Blanc de Blancs 1988 | Rank: =79
100% CH
This has a hint of TCA, hence the fruit is stripped and the acidity is forward. Some nice fruit under there – you can still see some of the greatness, but a bad bottle. A real shame!
Pol Roger Brut 1988 Magnum | Rank: =79

60% PN, 40% CH
Spoilt by TCA. A great shame!
Suenen Blanc de Blancs 1988 | Rank: =79
100% CH
Sadly, both bottles badly spoilt by TCA.
Drappier 1988 Magnum
 | Rank: =79
Pommery Cuvée Louise 1988 Magnum | Rank: =79
60% CH, 40% PN
Damp cellar smell, a little musty with some tart tatin behind it. Has slight TCA on the palate which accounts for the musty nose and bitterness at the end. Perhaps not a good bottle.
Piper-Heidsieck Rare 1988  | Rank: =79
70% CH, 30% PN | Dosage: 10 g/l

On first pour had a little mustiness and then the toasty and roasted character came out a little. Can see the reductive nose, the trademark Rare character. The musty character dominates the mouth and the fruit which this normally has in bundles is stripped. Unfortunately this bottle is only about 60% right.
Dom Pérignon 1988 Magnum | Rank: =79
55% CH, 45% PN
Very distinct reductive gunflint nose. Has a short and sharp mouthfeel, the normally generous fruit has been stripped; a causality of the cork. You can still see the fig and hay character and just finishes quite hard and abrupt. What a shame, damn corks.
Krug Clos du Mesnil 1988 | Rank: =79
100% CH
This is very deep orange with loads of perfumed orange and raisins and pastry. This has a good texture just very mature and so much orange and power of dried figs. More mature than other bottles I have had. It’s great length and power is still there but the oxidative character is taking over.
Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs 1988 Magnum | Rank: =79
55% CH, 45% PN
Sadly, this has very bad TCA.
Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Diamant Rosé 1988 | Rank: =79

Has some light strike – those dirty drain notes; this is quite aggressive and unbalanced.

The appropriately opulent Domaine Les Crayères


Parts 1 and 2 of the weekend were tasted blind


The first flight of many, all Blanc de Blancs


Crayfish and fennel from L’Assiette Champenoise


An incredible flight of 1988 prestige cuvées!


Beautiful sunset over the garden of Domaine Les Crayères


Krug Grande Cuvée Edition 144 NV – for apéritif!


Tagliatellle with smoked celery and caviar


Part 2: a mix of smaller growers and big houses


L’Assiette Champenoise: Champagne’s only three Michelin-star restaurant


Saint pierre de petit bateau with beetroot


Veuve Clicquot Rich Reserve 1988, a demi-sec champagne with 35 g/l dosage


A large number of the champagnes were poured from magnum


Saint jacques rotie with chicory


Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle MV based on 1988


Delicious mandarin for dessert: before and after!


The atmospheric private dining room at L’Assiette Champenoise


Champagne of the Weekend: Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé 1988 – 20/20


Squab with spinach patê at L’Assiette Champenoise


Some of the best rosé champagnes ever made


Bigger is better: a 3L Jeroboam of Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 1988


So that’s what a table of 88 champagnes from 1988 looks like!