A recent dinner with the theme for the start of the evening being “Grand Marque Champagne”. All wines were tasted blind by me except for the Savaterre and the Carpineto.

Comte Audoin de Dampierre Family Reserve Grand cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne 1996

A hyperactive bead with the most mousse of any of the Champagne this evening. I adored the nose on this, elegant floral scents, apple, lemon, minerals and just a smidge of toast. The palate is superbly balanced with great focused acid playing off against a richness of flavour. I agreed with the others that this is drinking wonderfully well now and while it may change with age, I don’t think it will necessarily get better than this.


Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus Non-Dose premier Cru Champagne NV

Based on the nose, I thought this wine was a ring-in, with the nose having a musky, sweet moscato like character to it as well as strawberry bubblegum and some slate and chalk aromas. The palate lacked points of interest and was short. Adair came up with the absolutely perfect descriptor for the palate which was mineral water. I can see what Attila was saying about the uniqueness of this wine, but it just didn’t do anything for me at all in terms of enjoyment.


Moet et Chandon Cuvee Dom Perignon Champagne 1996

A very fine bead. Cherry, toast, vanilla, mushroom, flint and herbs on a nose of brilliant depth, just from the nose this is a step up in class. An utterly charming palate that was elegant and almost perfectly structured, while at the same time having breathtaking depth, intensity and an incredibly long, sublime finish. Obviously this is young and not the wine that it will be in time, but it is already shows a level of complexity that belies its age. This was genuinely stunning, a monumental wine.


Lindemans Reserve Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier Sparkling 1999

What poor wine would follow the brilliance of the Dom? This had a very tight, muted nose with a hint of bread and butterscotch. There was too much acidity on the palate and not enough fruit leading into a finish that seemed short in comparison to some of the previous wines. That said, it was enjoyable to drink, simple yet tasty, which for me made it a superior wine to the Larmandier.

When people thought it a Grand Marque Champagne, the comments were that it was somewhat disappointing (too much acid, too much alcohol, disjointed etc) – as a $10 Australian Sparkling wine though, it is a revelation and I’m delighted that a humble Aussie went toe to toe with the big guns. I think I will purchase some.


Krug Vintage Champagne 1988

A honeyed, toasty and nutty nose that I usually associate with Krug, but there is none of the trademark Krug intensity, complexity or richness here. The palate was flat and bitter, finishing short and becoming increasingly oxidised and sherried after a short time in the glass.

NR/100 because it was a bad bottle, but under 80 if I was to rate it.

Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill Champagne 1995

A nose that that wasn’t willing to give a whole lot away, with just some simple citrus aromas and a small level of toast. The palate is round and ripe with a rather delicious creamy mouth-feel but no sign of the depth or length that I would expect of a Marque Champagne.


Moet et Chandon Cuvee Dom Perignon Rose Champagne 1978

A real privilege to taste this wine, my first Dom Rose.

A golden orange in colour with just brief glimpses of the trickling bead through the wine. The nose showed life through honeycomb and floral notes as well as an almondy oxidative character. I took a sip, and to my surprise there was still a core of acid present and propping up a palate that is clinging onto life with good depth of flavour.


J-L. Chave Blanc 2000 (Hermitage, France):

Ripe pear and some heat on the nose. A viscous glycerol like mouthfeel with more alcoholic heat showing through badly. There is an interesting texture to that palate that I kind of like, but I couldn’t really find anything else to like about this wine.

I think the label said 13.5% which I am sure the winemaker would have trouble stating with a straight face.


Domaine Francois Raveneau 1er cru Montee de Tennerre 1999 (Chablis, France):

Seashells, salt water/sea spray with a touch of both toast and asparagus on the nose. The palate is steely and has the kind of unique “pure” flavour that I link to Chablis but doesn’t really have the depth of a wine destined for greatness. I enjoyed drinking it regardless and perhaps it will prove me wrong in time.


Savaterre Chardonnay 2004 (Beechworth, Victoria):

A mistake to bring this wine to this dinner, but I had been wanting to open one for the past few months without an occasion to do so and was hoping it might find an audience. C’est la vie.

Nectarines, peach, oatmeal, plenty of high quality oak and a caramel malt barley kind of character to the nose. The palate has a certain textural brilliance to it that really draws me to this wine. Complex and minerally and mealy, it is only set to get better from here. I was the only one on the night who liked this wine.


Domaine Harmand-Geoffroy 1er Cru Lavaux-St.-Jacques 1996 (Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy):

An interesting gamey, spicy, earthy nose with just an elusive hint of nutmeg. The palate shows the savoury fruit intensity that some (most?) Australian Pinot producers would love to be able to achieve. No real “wow factor” yet, but I would probably back it to be showing extra complexity in the next 5-8 years and that could raise the wine a level. As it stands now, a nice drink indeed.


Isole e Olena Cepparello 1998 (Tuscany, Italy):

A fair bit of toasty oak dominating the nose along with some liquorice and spice. The palate is medium bodied with a earthy texture. The tannins are standing out at the moment but I think that they may come around with time. This is very much a wine to enjoy alongside food.


Chateau Haut Batailley 1982 (Bordeaux, France):

The nose is enticing with deep smokiness, tobacco, spice, mushroom and cedar. The wine is drinking at its very peak, with all the elements of the palate coming together in balance. Though mature, the tannin structure is still excellent and the wine is carried through by this into a long finish. The interaction of components of this wine is what I think of when I think of very good mature Bordeaux.


Chateau Leoville Las Cases 1982 (Bordeaux, France):

A nose that had me captivated – blackberry, bramble, spice, violets, tobacco, slate and graphite – youthful and yet with utterly superb layered depth and complexity. The palate is similarly enchanting with layer upon layer of depth and with every part of the wine coming together to sing in perfect balance leading into a peerlessly long finish. I’m rendered almost speechless, even thinking back on the wine now a few days later. Profound, brilliant and about as close to perfection as I have ever tasted in a red wine.


Gere & Weninger Barrique Cabernet Sauvignon 1993 (Villany, Hungary):

A wine that most would have trouble pinning down as a Cabernet varietal wine. The nose is rich and has nicely integrated oak with floral and pepper overtones. There was a unique graceful texture on the palate that I found quite appealing. Good length and quite enjoyable, this is one of the things I love about offlines – getting to try wines that I would never have been able to taste otherwise.


Gere Villany Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (Villany, Hungary):

A nose comprised of charred oak, medicinal aromas, pepper and sweet, jammy fruit. The palate is rather flat and lacks all that much of interest to talk about I’m afraid. Attila made an interesting point that the winemaker now gives himself top billing on the front label rather than the region that was in large font on the 1993.


Carpineto Farnito Vinsanto del Chianti 1986 (Tuscany, Italy):

A golden orange colour. Nose has deep aromas of coffee beans, hazelnuts, almonds, some oxidative notes and spirity liquor. A rich, luscious apricot and nutty palate with sweetness balanced by well proportioned acidity. The palate has good intensity and flavour, but not a whole lot of depth or length. I quite liked it though and it was certainly something a bit different.


Seppelt DP63 Show Muscat NV (Rutherglen, Victoria):

My opinion was that this wine was corked and not like some other bottles of this that I have had which had been superb. This was just a bit flat and lacking, with some complexity wanting to emerge from behind the taint but not allowed to come through.


Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. I have had the 82 LLC hmmmm 4 times now. This IS Bordeaux..although I reckon other 82’s are even better!

  2. Cam

    Great notes! I haven’t tried any of these wines but I can almost taste some of them – if that makes sense.

    The Ch Leoville las Cases looks like the pick – 99/100 – WOW! How much 82 is laying around at the moment?? I might do a search and see how much it is selling for – if available at all

  3. Thank you Mal.

    I think the LLC ’82 is around $350AUD a bottle at auction. Which is still rather silly, but not quite as bad as $1089USD! I’m just lucky to have made some good friends who are incredibly generous with their wine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *