TN Gareth's 'greatest hit' champagne offline 7th Sep @ Noize

Quite several people asked about the notes from this offline; I guess everyone was waiting someone else to post first.... then I realised I have the final voting sheet, so I guess I shall summarise this very enjoyable evening:


Aperitif 1:
Served blind:
Lanson vintage 2008
It was a lovely day and sitting outside of Noize was a good start of the evening. Ray again kindly brought a kick-start wine for us to sip outdoor, served blind.
It has green apple flavour and nose, a bit of lemon but also some sign of evolve in the nose. It's not very complex but I personally think it's a nice summer drink.
I have only tasted this wine in Paris tasting event three years ago, and the raw non-malo acidity made it basically undrinkable then. Recently I heard good thing about this wine but apparently this bottle was not up to the level people expected it to be.

Aperitif 2:
Dom Ruinart rose 1982
Moving into the restaurant, we had our first "proper" wine.
To start with an aged rose is interesting. This wine is not off, not badly oxidised, though not too much energy nor bubbles left. Hard to judge the colour as the basement of Noize has yellowish lighting. There was an obvious sweetness in the wine which could be the Ruinart finger print style, or/and from the dosage.

Blind tasting wine 1:
Hector Riviere brut BdB 1966 en magnum
We were given the wine to guess the age; it's golden in colour, still quite some bubbles left. Acidity is very soften and there is a dosage in it. For that it can be 1990. While there is also a smell on the top nose, some used to decribe it as 'wet hair', indicating a much older age. I was thinking 1976. Ended up that it's 1966!
Surprising fresh for this age, especially when it survived the BY fire.
(Got 1 point)

Blind tasting wine 2:
Cedric Bouchard Roses de Jeanne La Boloree BdB (de facto 2008)
Very light in colour and a slight CO2 attack on the nose at first sniff, hence it should be a new vintage. Zero dosage but it doesn't taste like it, there is enough sweet feeling on the palate despite it's lean and chalky. Different from usual BdB palate though, could be that it's 100% pinot blanc.

Blind tasting wine 3:
Krug Clos du Mesnil 2004
Slightly deeper colour than Cedric Bouchard; nose expressive/powerful yet not a grower-kind of. People in the event (including me) felt that they have had this wine but couldn't remember when and what. Actually I have never had 2004 CdB, but I had several times of 1998, and they do share some similar qualities. In the begining it's a bit tight (not at all shy), while it stayed in the glass very long. Very good length and structure.
(Got 5 points, shared 3rd place. )

Charles Heidsieck Champagne Charlie 1985
It's just a very good wine as we have seen time after time. Especially considering that they are older label coming from Waitrose shops storage, the long life of this wine is just remarkable. I am not saying that there is no variation, but for this age of wine, this cuvee Charlie 1985 is probably the most outperforming 80s champagne I have seen. This bottle again delivered, one of the better bottles, got enough freshess at the same time very generous and giving in both nose and palate.
(Got 19 points, top wine of the night.)

Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires 1995
Newer disgorged (apparence), but no issues of what we experienced previously in some new disgorgement. I personally feel it's a complete wine: great mousse, great freshness, great structure, balanced and rich. Like many people here I have had this wine many times, they are mostly good or excellent. Here we had an excellent bottle. My wine of the night and the second wine of group vote.
(14 points, 2nd place)

Charles Heidsieck Brut 1996
It's fresher and lighter in colour than expected, slightly weak in mousse maybe therefore a little bit empty on the palate. It is surely an enjoyable wine but a bit unfair for it to stand aside of the no.1 and no.2 of the evening.

Dom Perignon 1996
We had quite several very good bottles from this case but unfortunately this bottle is not. Which is not uncommon for this age of champagne. From the colour it shouldn't be super advanced, while the nose has some herby element which I haven't experienced for this wine before. On the palate it was a bit restrained also don't know why. It could be that it's at an uneasy phase or simply a less good bottle.

Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1996
I am fortunate enough to taste this wine several times, and except once it showed really superb, the other ones were all slightly underwhelming. I guess it's less consistent than Oenotheque 1995. Not at all saying it's faulty; the colour is bright and both the nose and palate showed that it's very fresh. It's just not very generous. I start to think this is how this wine should be, and the one super expressive bottle was an exception.

Krug vintage 2002
When I first tried this wine in Krug tasting hold by our beloved admin Tom C (many people were there in LVMH headquarter), this wine was way to young. Then we tried again in 2019, it's still a bit tight and awkward. I think now the palate start to be quite enjoyable, the fruit stands out enough to balance the acidity and for me it is a more pleasant wine, opposite to a big wine below.
(Got 2 points)

Krug vintage 1996
This is a big gun. And again among my limited but multiple times having this wine, this bottle was the best. Still, it was Krug 1996: the acidity was yelling like no tomorrow. I made a joke that this wine is like the big muscle man you see in the gym, super impressive but pretty or not up to everyone's taste. (I think I made a similar comment to Bollinger LGA 1996, which was also highly regarded in 2017 Bolly tasting in Capitol. Simon G wrote complete notes on that which can be found in forum)
On this wine (also some other wine), we have a very interesting opinion gap between two sides of the table. People on my side think 2002 is more enjoyable but the other side prefer 1996. I agree on the other side of the table that, after about 20 mins, 2002 started to show a little bit emptiness in the mid-palate, which was not the case for 1996. Whether 2002 would generate enough substance to fill that space with some ageing, hard to tell. But still, at the moment I personally would happily drink 2002 for leisure, without being demanded my full serious attention.
(Got 5 points, shared 3rd place. )

Many thanks to Gareth for organising this; I guess it was a bit of a rocky ride to get the wine list done! But the outcome was really good; ended up that we had many great wine and a truely fun evening. Also thank to Mathieu @ Noize who's always extremely helpful for this kind of events. And of course to everyone who kindly offer their wine. (I guess I should especially mentioned Dan's cellar, which three of the wine are from there despite they were all offered by different people!)
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One amongst the many great aspects of this evening was to drink a flight of Charles Heidsieck wines all made by Daniel Thibault.
His prodigy and worthy successor Regis Camus has been collecting awards for the last couple of decades, but much of the reputation surrounding CH is owed to the work of Daniel who passed in 2002.
When Paul asked what may eventually succeed BdM 95 as greatest hit I immediately suggested Rare 02 (under cork) which I suspect was the first solely Regis Camus produced prestige release.
Over the coming years I am sure we will see the reputation of Piper and Charles continue to grow on the back of these two wonderful winemakers.
A truly on form BdM95 is one of the great champagne experiences and to have one be shaded (just) by an outstanding Charlie 85 was a proper highlight.
Thanks everyone. It was a really lovely evening with Noize and Mathieu on fine form as always and the food still on the up.

Wines wise we had a bit of a mixed bag. The Lanson I thought was fine and a nice aperitif. No idea how much this is (£40?) but happy to quaff some outside in the heat. The 82 Dom Ruinart Rose was lovely. Very delicate but it evolved across a few hours ebbing and flowing between hints of strawberry and other red fruit and then some decaying notes, as well as sous bois and even some truffle notes.

The flight of three blind wines was as ever from Paul super interesting. I thought the 66 was pretty average, not really much going on, the main thing was it was from 66 but apart from that not much to write home about. I think others enjoyed it more. The Bouchard was lovely on the nose but had an odd note of pear drops on the palate that made a lot more sense once it was revealed as a Pinot Blanc. A lovely drop and one to drink now as I'm not sure it will get better. The Krug CdM 04 was very interesting served blind. It has quite a lot of finesse and had a pretty immense structure and finish. Very good but needs lots of time.

The flight of three Charles Heidseicks was superb as others have commented. Alino's 85 was again in fine fettle. Just wonderful poise and balance. An exquisite finish that just drew you back into the glass for more. The 95 BdM was also a very good bottle. We drank out last one last year and it was slightly tipping over. This one was fresh and lovely. Such a reliable wine. The 96 was slightly overshadowed by its two siblings. It was deeper in colour and had slightly less finesse and focus. On it's own I am sure it would be lovely but in this flight it was quite outdone.

The Dom 96s really did not shine. My 96 was really reticent and backward. Very ungiving on the nose and not much on the palate. Not faulty just not really there. Very annoying as other bottles I've brought along have been fantastic. The Oeno was as I remembered it. Stubborn. Shut. Not really giving any pleasure. Was this better on release? Has P2 changed things? Given the price point of P2 and P3 now is it really worth the fuss? Anyhow maybe the Dom's were on a root day and the Heidseicks a fruit day!

The Krug flight was more enjoyable. The 02 beginning to unfurl from a very tightly coiled shell. Still super powerful but becoming a little more rounded and pleasant on the nose and palate. The 96 was in a good place. Bold. Bossy. Ambitious. But also pretty yum. Could possibly have done with a bolder dish than cheese. Anyhow. A good flight.

A good enjoyable evening. A shame every wine wasn't on form but hey ho we had lots of fun and some standouts. Again I'm not sure we'll see a vintage like the 85s again. Thanks all for your contributions!
Just to follow up on Gareth and Howard’s posts.
The showing of both DP96’s was unusual.
Both seemed absolutely sound but…..Grumpy!
My experience perhaps covers 50 or so standard and a dozen or more Oeno/P’s and I have come to expect really wonderful outcomes…so long as they are not corked, which is a worry with DP.
Howard reports an experience very much in keeping with what I was expecting, as an aside I had predicted to Gareth that his DP may well be WOTN.
The Krug 96 was the best I have had since the very first bottle just after launch. Usually they have been all over the place and the only consistent feature has been disappointment.G’s note is spot on for this bottle though I would be tempted to add bombastic in small print somewhere which is what one might rightfully expect for Krug 96 at this point in time.We look forward to helping Dan track them over the coming decade or more;)
As a caveat to these remarks unusually for me I had sort of hit a wall after that lovely CH flight.
Alex certainly is correct in that if too many wines are served, the later wines do not shine as well as they would if drunk on their own. We sure did have a lot of wine that evening!
I find that offlines consistently feature far too much wine. I can just about deal with a fizz, a couple of whites and a flight of reds (say 4) but it often feels like there is a whole flight too many. And then there is the question of tasting sample versus drinking a glass of wine. I take my hat off to the pros who can taste and spit 200 times in a day, but sometimes it feels like offlines are caught between a drinking experience and a quasi-professional tasting experience - achieving neither successfully.
My palate was definitely tired part of the way through this dinner. On reflection, I think that we should have had the delightful ruinart rose as an intermezzo or had a red wine to recalibrate our palates. I felt the same way after the recent chardonnay wimps event.
I guess part of the issue if people want to be generous especially after such a long time with no offlines. I tend to always limit dinners to eight as more means pours that are pretty useless to assess the wine and you end up with too many wines.

I still think the optimal is four people for lunch with a champagne, a white, a pair of reds and then a sweet. Perfect number of wines. Very good pours so you can see how everything evolves.