Veuve Ambal Cremant de Bourgogne 2011 was the surprise standout from last night’s fizz tasting…crisp acidity and racy citrus fruit against a background of yeast and toast. The balance and development were a happy surprise in such a young and inexpensive wine.
This wasn’t as much of a surprise: Pierre Gimonnet 1er Cru Cuis Blanc de Blancs NV (from The Wine Society) did all of the above and more. Being a Non Vintage it isn’t apparent which years’ harvest the grapes are from, but the developped bready (autolytic for you real wine geeks) nose and flavours were appreciated by all the tasters. I’m hoping I have another bottle or two left!
The two sparklers above were both “Good”, so now for the bad. Jean Louis Ballarin Cremant de Bordeaux is a blend of Semillon and Muscadelle, two of the three standard white grapes of Bordeaux (the third being Sauvignon Blanc). Unfortunately this example was faulty as the main flavour coming through was wet cardboard – yuck! The sibling Cabernet Franc-based Black Pearl was much nicer.
The biggest selling Champagne world wide is The Ugly – or more precisely the Short and Boring. This was served blind and tasters’ guesses as to its origins were all wide of the mark – no one thought it worthy of the badge Champagne.
Offering very little on the nose, muted flavours on the palate a short finish, Moet et Chandon is a triumph of marketing over winemaking. Give it as a present to someone who likes labels, but look elsewhere for good fizz.