Rarely do I scroll through my phone in the morning (still in bed, furthermore) and decide to go to an event on a whim especially after a slightly pixilated night involving absinthe and a plethora of Real Housewives taglines, but making quick decisions was one of my resolutions for the year – malformed somewhere in the summer – prompting a quick change and a leap out of the door. Were we supposed to RSVP? Yes, says my phone. Whatever.
I remember attending the Annual Champagne and Sparkling Wine Tasting at Marquis Wine Cellars last year: it was a last-minute invite by text after the first Guild of Sommeliers blind tasting seminar held in Vancouver. I remember forgetting my wallet, so I had to borrow money from a friend to donate to the Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland, the charity who the event supports. This time, for their 9th year of this event, I am prepared!
A fantastic mixture of novel and strange, with a few bottles that served as familiar ballasts. After having tasted the room, I’m still eying the Sartori Arnea Soave Spumante for its tame strangeness, the Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs d’Aÿ Champagne for its slutty richness, and the Godmé Blanc de Noirs Champagne for something more taut and balanced but still individualistic. And Jacquesson, because Jacquesson, but son, I don’t have jack shit in my wallet. And I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, but maybe superior stockpiling of dollars will be one of them? It’s safe to say that I’ll stick with the $22 Cava.
Veuve Clicquot “Rich” Champagne (Champagne, France) $86
45% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meuner, 15% Chardonnay. VC’s new line of Champagne meant to be used a cocktail ingredient, which is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. I wanted to try it straight, which I did, though the pourer emphasized that it was meant to be poured over ice, so he had two carafes of Rich on ice, one with red peppers and the other with pineapple. Without ornaments, it was a bit closed. The 60g/L of sugar made it sweet, and there was some funky yeastiness, but otherwise it was a bit blank. Admittedly, the pineapple concoction was tasty and mousse-retaining, but really? $86 for a one-off cocktail ingredient that’s even more expensive than Veuve Clicquot’s mainstay? Fuck. And we’ll never be Royals.
Willing to explore this more: not sure about it. But I mean, if your resolution is to be one of the Rich Kids of Instagram, I’ve got good news for you.
Poema Cava Brut (Cava, Spain) $22
40% Macabeo, 40% Xarel-lo, 20% Parellada. Earth and citrus peel on the nose. Persistent and stony on the palate, with lime and earth. Well-balanced; good value. I find some mid-priced Cava quite angular, but this had a pleasing roundness.
Château Gamage 2010 “U” Crémant de Bordeaux (Bordeaux, France) $43
50% Muscadelle and 50% Semillon. I need to retry this because I’m convinced that the bottle was off or at least slightly corked, but I could discern an interesting flowery perfume and a chalky lime character. Maybe some chlorine? Mint? Something vaguely green despite the lack of Sauvignon Blanc.
Haywire 2013 “The Bub” (Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada) $32
51% Pinot Noir and 49% Chardonnay. Freshly sliced Granny Smith apples and stones. Eager prickly mousse. Quite clean and sunny, and appropriately suits this sunny but cold weather. Chalky, candid, and energetic: I feel like you should drink this if your NYR is to be more active or something. I mean then again, you’re drinking wine.
Benoit Mulin Crémant de Jura (Jura, France) $38
50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. Bruised apple flesh and caramelized apples. Quite nutty on the palate, and actually quite reminiscent of a fresh glass of apple juice. Round and has lots to chew on.
Sartori Arnea Soave Spumante (Veneto, Italy) $30
100% Garganega. Bizarre! Sparkling Soave. Not very aromatic, but that’s Garganega, and then Garganega in a nose-disabling flute. Faint hints of lemon curd and white flowers on the nose but otherwise rather quiet, though the palate holds funky flavours of mushroom, earth, and cashew. There’s something gently green – less on the green pepper side of the scale, and maybe something like cucumbers.
Gancia Sparkling Rosé (Italy) $21
100% Pinot Noir. On the nose it’s mostly Juicy Fruit gum and Bazooka Joe. Just a hint sickly on the palate with some off-dryness. A bit clingy but has the potential to please certain crowds, myself included. Do you plan to listen to more Cyndi Lauper in 2016? Hello.
De Bortoli Emeri Pink Moscato (Australia) $20
100% Moscato. Oof. A flowery and candied cocktail on the nose, with canned peaches and orange blossom: wholly satisfying in an easy sense. Soft and gulpable but elegant. 8 g/L of sugar but with low-ish acid that unfurls the sugar without being too punchy.
Mumm Napa “Cuvée M” (Napa, California, USA) $37
48% Chardonnay, 43% Pinot Noir, 6% Pinot Gris, 3% Pinot Meunier. Yeasty crackers on the nose with mineral and an earthy lemon zest sort of scent. Much more extroverted on the palate with medium sweetness (17 g/L) giving way to a lemonade flavour that ends savoury and stony. Definitely flamboyant and toothy with slicked-back hair. Sip this, should you feel the need to match such a description.
Gaston Chiquet Champagne Blanc de Blancs d’Aÿ (Champagne, France) $73
100% Chardonnay. Ah, yes. a real sense of dough and buttered popcorn. Literal Netflix and chill territory. Hedonistic and open on the nose; quite rich and biscuity in the mouth with a toasty evolution on the mid-palate. Delicate but persistent with lovely well-balanced structure. I was supposed to watch more movies this year. Nope.
Henriot Brut Souverain (Champagne, France) $85
60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. A bit more red fruit and mushroom on this one. An echo of mushroom on the palate with broad, aggressive bubbles. Savoury. Clunky and awkward, but in a refreshing way, like I’m sure Michael Cera once was.
Bruno Gobillard “Mlle Sophie” Champagne Rosé (Champagne, France) $68
50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier. The dominance of ripe cherry on the elegant nose hints to something a bit syrupy and intense on the palate, and the foreshadowing is mostly correct with a blast of broad bubbles and expressive Rainier cherry amongst some minerality. Gaudy.
José Dhondt Champagne Rosé de Saignée (Champagne, France) $73
100% Pinot Noir. Funky; more herbaceous. Hibiscus? Mineral, flower petals, unripe strawberry, and yeast. Really forward on the palate with the cranberry and raspberry fruit, veering on being gummy. Quite yeasty with a chalky defined backbone that almost feels like tannin.
Godmé Champagne Brut Blanc de Noirs (Champagne, France) $65
100% Pinot Noir. Nutty and oxidized amongst the yeast, toast, and nectarine, and orange. Elegant and creamy mouthfeel. Notable flavours of orange peel.
Jacquesson Champagne Cuvée 733 DT (Champagne, France) $135
52% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir, 24% Pinot Meunier. Gossamer and understated, but still with lots of depth. Just a whiff of blanched almond with dough and red apple. Elegant mouthfeel that ends complete with a stony savouriness; there’s a similar red apple and almond character, but definitely not too overtly bruised or oxidative.
Taittinger Champagne Nocturne Sec Disco Sleeve (Champagne, France) $100
60% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir. Yeasty and creamy on the nose with just a hint of mushroom. Light-footed, very bright, and has persistent mousse with a seductive palate. Pretty forward and bursting with flavours, but lacks a bit of a finish. 17 g/L. Bottle literally is a violet bottle-shaped disco ball. More clubbing in 2016?