At The Finest Bubble, we are fortunate to frequently taste newly released champagnes. We often include a newbie or two during our informal range tastings at Frederick’s in Islington and the more formal masterclass tastings at 67 Pall Mall. However, new releases typically appear in addition to an alternative tasting theme and it is rare to have the opportunity to sit down and taste them for their own sake, side by side.
Therefore, we decided to shake up this year’s autumn range tasting and present some of the most exciting recent champagne releases. The line-up included the first ever rosé creation of Louis Roederer’s field blend champagne, Brut Nature Rosé 2012; a late release (original disgorgement) of Taittinger Brut Vintage 2008, discovered by the house in Reims and exclusive to The Finest Bubble; an array of newly launched vintage 2008s and 2012s; and three prestige cuvées: Rare 2006, Krug 2006, and the new iterations concept adopted by Laurent-Perrier for their multi-vintage wine, Grand Siècle.
The champagnes were tasted in pairs by brand. Live-scoring on our smartphone app allowed us to analyse which were the highest scored champagnes – the result of which are presented below. Nick Baker, founder of The Finest Bubble, guided guests through the experience and all tasting notes below are his. The champagnes are listed below in the order tasted on the evening.
|Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2012 | 17+/20
55% PN, 25% PM, 20% CH | Lees Ageing: 6 Years | Dosage: 0 g/l
On first impression you see the chalky character and then the rich tropical notes emerge: peaches, apricots and hints of pineapple. When you taste it you get the freshness of zero dosage, but its impression on the palate doesn’t seem zero, the lees character has added so much texture it rounds out the palate. Very fresh and light with a mineral and saline finish. This wine gets better each release, this, now the third release, is very precise and pure. Drink now to 2022.
|Louis Roederer Brut Nature Rosé 2012 | 17.5++/20
55% PN, 25% PM, 20% CH | Lees Ageing: 6 Years | Disgorged: Spring 2019 | Dosage: 0 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 6 Months
Has some reductive character and a roundness and richness to its fruity personality. The texture is outstanding; rich and round giving a real lushness to the mouthfeel, which I wasn’t expecting. It doesn’t seem zero dosage, and when I went back I could see some spice character to the rich red fruits. Very good, this will likely go to an 18/20 with more post-disgorgement time. The influence from macerating the Pinot Noir grapes should see this zero dosage age better than the white version. Drink now to 2025.
|Leclerc Briant Brut Réserve NV | 17/20
40% PN, 40% PN, 20% CH | Base Vintage: 2014 | Reserve Wine: 10% | Lees Ageing: 3 Years | Disgorged: December 2018 | Dosage: 4 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 11 Months
Lots of ripe fruits on the nose, good balance of freshness and fruit density with lemon richness and hints of tropical notes, well balanced. Hervé mentions the importance of long lees ageing as a still wine in tank and that is seen as another key part of the recipe.
|Taittinger Brut Vintage 2008 (Late Release) | 18.5/20
50% PN, 50% CH | Lees Ageing: 4 Years | Dosage: 9 g/l
Seems slightly greener and tighter at present, almost seems to have some oak hints. Has great texture and seems to have brighter acidity and a racier finish.
|Billecart-Salmon 2008 | 18.5/20
65% PN, 35% CH | Lees Ageing: 9 Years | Dosage: 4 g/l
Wasn’t expecting so much dried fruit and roasted cashews. This has an abundance of red berries like raspberry and dark plum and has a fresh “crunchy” character. On the palate you get more fruits like peaches and apricots and some of the density of the black cherry. The lees ageing adds a great mid-palate weight and with all the acidity it finishes fresh. Going back a few minutes later you can see dark chocolate and dark cherry has come forward. A big and complex vintage champagne.
|Charles Heidsieck Brut Millésime 2008 | 18+/20
60% PN, 40% CH | Lees Ageing: 10 Years | Disgorged: February 2019 | Dosage: 8 g/l
This is my second taste of Charles 2008 and a very different experience to the preview back in June where I only scored it 16.5/20. At the launch event I tasted 2008 from three different bottles and they all had real freshness and precision with some with distinct chalky notes. Most prominent is the ripe pear and lemon richness on the palate.
|Veuve Clicquot Vintage Reserve 2012 | 17.5/20
51% PN, 34 % CH, 15% PM | Lees Ageing: 8 Years | Dosage: 8 g/l
Quite tight on the nose. After a minute the depth starts to show: all lemon, pineapple and real purity. Very bright fruit, yellow plums, lots of tropical notes like guava and pineapple, very clean and precise. On second taste I get more tangerine, nuts and redcurrants. The ending is long and dominated by a saline finish which brings great freshness to the end. Very good indeed.
|Eric Rodez Les Genettes 2012 | 18.5+/20
100% CH | Lees Ageing: 5 Years | Disgorged: September 2018 | Dosage: 2.2 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 1 Year
Initially you see the oak, the richness of apples and grapefruit and a roundness from the lees agring adding great texture. Has a distinct mineral and chalky character with a great finish that goes on and one. Fresh, bold and elegant.
|Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs NV Magnum | 18.5/20
Vintage: 2005 | 100% CH | Lees Ageing: 12 Years | Disgorged: 2018 | Dosage: 7 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 1 Year
Beautifully generous considering the magnum was just opened. Big and ripe tropical fruits and on the palate it is elegant with wonderful acidity and freshness. Layers build giving it a rich and textural delight that finishes fresh and light. Very good.
|Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Iteration 24 MV | 18.5/20
55% CH, 45% PN | Vintages: 2007 (60%), 2006 (20%), 2004 (20%) | Lees Ageing: 10 Years | Disgorged: October 2018 | Dosage: 7 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 1 Year
Good depth to the gold colour; on my first smell I was caught by that “hint of the sea” character with notes of salinity. You then start to see those yellow fruits like ripe pear and apples, real zesty lemons and on the palate the apple character has a spicy edge. The mid-palate fills well with the ten years of lees ageing. The fruits are citrus and pear and some tropical notes of pineapple and with a few minutes in the glass hints of pastry richness. Great finish, fresh from minerality and hint of saline and nice, long length.
|Bollinger La Grande Année 2008 Magnum | 18.5+/20
71% PN, 29% CH | Lees Ageing: 9+ Years | Disgorged: 2018 | Dosage: 8 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 1 Year
Initially you get the reductive smoky notes so common in magnums, less common in Bollinger, a lot of similar fruits though at first the fresh fruits show like pineapple, orange and lemon, and the dried fruits are much more subtle. The magnum seems to have a lower dosage, the effect of less development in the fruits makes the dosage seem even lighter and the minerality hence seems more forward. Great length and has a subtle elegance over the bottle. This is my favourite today and matches the Cornish Cod dish superbly, though that wasn’t the course it was served with!
|Rare 2006 | 17.5+/20
70% CH, 30% PN | Lees Ageing: 11 Years | Disgorged: December 2018 | Dosage: 8.5 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 11 Months
Last time I tasted this was from magnum; this is almost as good. Some of the 2006s seem to get a little clumsy with age, but this one is very pricise and has lots of tropical fruit, that sweet rich pineapple, ripe apple and salinity. The texture from 11 years lees ageing has kept is so fresh. Finishes fresh and clean. From a solar warm sunny year and you can taste the ripeness in the grapes, while still very elegant. One of the last 2006s on the market and it is great to see how long lees ageing has really helped build layers into the champagne.
|Krug 2006 | Krug ID: 118014 | 18+/20
48% PN, 35% CH, 17% PM | Lees Ageing: 11 Years | Disgorged: Winter 2018 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 1 Year
Not an easy year and hot temperature spikes with 23 days of temperature of over 30 degrees when normally only seven days. Early August saw two months worth of rainfall in just two weeks, the sun then came out in late August to ripen and didn’t see much rot. Initially I was picking up chalk and minerality which isn’t usually something I see in Krug, then the layers of dried fruits and lots of tropical notes particularly pineapple and peaches start to shine. On the palate more of the red fruits, strawberries and blackcurrants, with real brightness hints of cranberry and the Pinot Meunier from St. Gemme adds a real crunchy character to the fruit. Finishes with a slight spiciness and lifts up with hint of seaside character. This is fresh and has great weight of fruit. Drinking now to 2040.
|Group Average Scores | Overall Avg: 17.3/20|
|Rank||Champagne||Group Avg. Score / 20|
|3||Bollinger La Grande Année 2008 Magnum||18.2|
|4||Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs NV Magnum||17.9|
|5||Charles Heidsieck Brut Millésime 2008||17.5|
|6||Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle Iteration 24 MV||17.4|
|7||Taittinger Brut Vintage 2008 (Late Release)||17.3|
|8||Leclerc Briant Brut Réserve NV||17.0|
|=9||Veuve Clicquot Vintage Reserve 2012||16.9|
|11||Louis Roederer Brut Nature Rosé 2012||16.5|
|12||Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2012||16.4|
|13||Eric Rodez Les Genettes 2012||16.2|