Today we had a lunch in the Arkle for Champagne Taittinger and some of their clients in the Northwest. Justin Llewellyn from Taittinger was there as was Oliver Haussels from Continental and Overseas who represent them in the Greater Manchester region.
As is usually the case for event such as these, the numbers were all over the place. When restauranteurs and hoteliers get invited out, it is often difficult to know for sure if they are going to turn up. Ive lost track of the number of events that Ive been invited to then had to pull out at the last minute because of a work commitment. It's frustrating for me as an attendee to have to pull out, it's more so for the hosts as they inevitably end up paying for all those missing covers. Especially so with the last minute no-shows and cancellations.
Anyway, for the lunch today we started off with the Taittinger Brut NV. A nice lightly sparkling, easy drinking champagne. Predominantly chardonnay followed by Meunier then Pinot Noir this was a crisp fruity wine, with three years of age during the secondary fermentation.
For the starter we went straight to the tete de cuvee, the Comte de Champagne 1995. A blanc de blancs from six grand cru villages - Cramant, Avize, Oger, Le Mesnil, Chouilly and Pierry. Fruity, buttery, nutty, vibrantly perfumed. Of all the prestige cuvees, it is one of my favourites.
For the main course we poured the 1998 Vintage. Predominantly chardonnay, this has a much fruitier character than the Comte, due to the inclusion of the Pinots Noir and Meunier. I have to say I liked this wine a lot. When I was checking the bottles there was a lot of bottle variation, with one bottle being corked (good thing I checked them!!) and one bottle was borderline. Justin told the assembled diners that he felt it was a shame this wine was often overlooked as people jumped from the brut tradition to the Comte. I have to agree, if you miss this, then you really are missing out on a superb champagne.
For dessert we poured the Rose, which was quite surprising in a number of ways. First of all, it is in a clear bottle, which is quite unusual for any champagne much less a rose. It has quite a dark colour, which comes from its process of blending red wine from Bouzy with the vins clair. Apparently the percentage is 13% red wine, which enables Taittinger to maintain a consistent colour. Ultimately for the Grande Marques consistency is their aim.
So all in all, some really quite nice champagnes, and a fantastic meal was enjoyed by all.