The 4th iteration of this much anticipated annual event was extended to include Perth (and Canberra) this year – and we were lucky enough to be invited along to the Trade and Media exhibition in the Golden Ballroom of the Pan Pacific Hotel.
With 23 stalls, more than 30 houses, growers and cooperatives, and over 100 cuvées to sample, it was a champagne lover’s greatest fantasy come true!
The event is hosted by Tyson Stelzer, Australia’s leading writer on champagne, and sparkling wines more broadly, and is regarded as the biggest showcase of champagne in the Southern hemisphere. Tyson’s Champagne Guide tells you everything you need to know about how Champagne is grown and made and how to buy, open, serve and store Champagne, while his Australian Sparkling Report is always eagerly anticipated, not to mention his annual guide to the Australian and New Zealand wines of the year. And he was there to chat to attendees and make a speech of welcome, pointing out some salient points about the consumption of champagne in Australia.
For example, no country outside Europe drinks more champagne per person – twice as much as Germans, three times that of Italians and five times that of Americans. However the market in Australia is quite different to that of other countries – Tyson points out that of the top 10 champagne markets in the world, Australia is dominated more by champagne houses, imports less grower champagne by volume, imports the smallest number of houses, growers and cooperatives, is dominated by non-vintage, ranks lowest in rosé imports, and has one of the lowest average spends per bottle.
One of the key aims of Taste Champagne is to expose Australian audiences to the diversity champagne has to offer and to vintage, rosé, prestige, growers and cooperatives –and in this it succeeded magnificently with a range of champagnes seldom, or never, seen In Australia, but, of course, with all of those we have come to know and love. It was a simply outstanding event.
Deutz from Ay had half a dozen wines on display and two of them ranked close to my wines of the show – Cuvée William Deutz 2006, and Amour De Deutz Rosé 2007, two champagnes of amazing delicacy and elegance.
A producer I had not encountered before, De Saint Gall (and who are seeking an Australian distributor) also had some excellent wines for tasting – among those that really appealed were De Saint Gall Brut Rosé NV and their Cuvée Orpale Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru 2002. The host of the stall, Kim Woulfe from Beyond the Napkin, was a wonderful ambassador for the brand – and also revealed her talent at sabrage – opening a bottle with a sabre – sadly she didn’t bring her sabre along but showed us a You Tube video of her splendid work.
Henri Abelé, its bottles decorated with an angel – celebrating the work of Henri Abelé in restoring the cathedral of Reims and its renowned Smiling Angel – had five champagnes to taste, including the quite lovely and beautifully fresh Henri Abelé Sourire De Reims Brut 2008 and Sourire De Reims Rosé 2006.
And who could pass up the opportunity to try Krug Grand Cuvée NV and Dom Perignon 2006? Well I certainly didn’t – sensational wines, as was Veuve Clicquot 2008.
Pol Roger had a great range on offer – the Pol Roger 2009 Blanc de Blanc was outstanding and my first sip of Sir Winston Churchill 2004 was worth the wait- rich, full and beautifully balanced.
Another unknown, from my perspective anyway, house, Lombard, had some top examples of their craft – Lombard Brut Grand Cru and Extra Brut Premiere Cru – and they too are seeking an Australian distributor. A great opportunity for someone!
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé was, as usual, beautifully balanced and delicate – a top example of the style.
I was also very impressed by a couple from Champagne’s oldest cooperative –Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé, Brut Reserve and the exquisitely bottled Palmes D’Or 2006.
Lanson Extra Age Brut NV made to celebrate their 250th Anniversary was amazingly fresh with a complex brioche bouquet – loved it!
I could go on and on with fine examples from Moet et Chandon, Charles Heidsieck, Lallier, Taittinger, Duval-Leroy and more, but I will finish with two from Jacquart –Jacquart Brut Mosaique NV and Rosé Mosaique NV- the first with aromas of baking bread and honey, the latter a delicate salmon pink with lifted aromas of cherries and strawberries.
A brilliant event – a must for all lovers of champagne and I am already looking to 2018 to do it all again.