|Having run a sparkling wine tasting in both 1998 and 1999, we could hardly pass up the opportunity to do another one in 2000! We ran a smaller sampling, comparing three sparklers against each other and against our notes of the other 14 from the previous tastings.|
We tasted with only dry crackers and water to keep our mouths fresh. As we have noted in previous tastings, the glass does make a large difference. If you taste in normal wine glasses or in water glasses, you are not going to get the full effect of the sparkling wine. If you decide you don't like a particular sparkler, it might be the glass you don't like - you might have loved the sparkler if it was in a normal, narrow flute. While Riedel glassware allowed each sparkler to taste its best, any flute will be quite sufficient for a good tasting.
We rated these wines on a 0-20 scale: 0-4 appearance, 0-6 aroma, 0-5 flavor, and 0-5 overall. The ratings you see are the average ratings amongst us all.
Westport Rivers 1995 Brut Cufee RJR, $35: Score 15
The favorite of the Champagne lover in the group, this was full flavored and powerful. Complex blend of grapefruit, apples, and toast. Definitely on the strong, dry side.
Nicholas Fuilette Rose Brut 1994, $40: Score 14
Rose is a mark of quality with most Champagnes, and this one is no exception. This tasted like ruby red grapefruit, with a very fruity flavor, including cherries and a hint of peach. Lots of bubbles and a lovely color make this one a romantic favorite.
Mumm Carte Classique Extra Dry non vintage, $24: Score 15
Those not familiar with the Champagne dryness scale might find it strange, but an 'extra dry' is sweeter than a 'brut'. This sparkler was fruity and sweet, with a great grapefruit and apple flavor to it. Nice, full texture. This was the favorite of the two new wine drinkers in the bunch.
On previous tastings we had paired our sparkling wines up with the Champagne & Cheese listing - brie, edam, gouda, mild cheddar, colby. This time we tried the opposite - cheese not listed, to see if indeed there was a difference. We went with gruyere, smoked cheddar, and stilton. Indeed, while the cheese was very good, it did not bring out the flavors of the Champagne nearly as well as the others do. We then tried a fruit platter, with pineapple, cantelope, honeydew, and watermelon. We found that the cantelope and honeydew brought out the grapefruit flavors of the wine, while the other fruits reduced the flavor of the wine.
As before, once we opened the cheese, we all began to smell cheese in the Champagne and it altered our tasting notes. When you're tasting wine, be sure to not have cheese around until you've finished the tasting part!
The Basics of Champagne
Methode Champenoise - How Champagne is Made
Champagne Pairings and Reviews
Champagne History and Information