Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Champagne Notes from the Martin Scott Portfolio

I had the distinct pleasure of going to the Martin Scott Portfolio Tasting last week at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. That's right, Lincoln Center - what a wonderful and grandiose location for such a great tasting. There were LOADS of wines to taste from all over the world, all of it serious stuff.

I know that some people, like Alder of Vinography, can taste every wine at one of these things. I cannot enjoy myself that way. I like to look a the different bottles at each table, to talk to the person pouring if they work at the winery, to consider each wine slowly, to take my time, in other words.

Well that means missing a load of great wine at the Martin Scott tasting. I decided to focus on Champagne and Burgundy, and to taste whatever Loire wine I came across, but there are not many of those in the portfolio. Yes, I didn't taste one Spanish wine, nothing from Australia, very few California wines, and I completely missed the lineup of dessert wine. No worries though, I brought Deetrane with me and set him loose on all of the Italian wine, along with whatever else he could taste. He owes a guest post, I would say...

I tried a new rating system this time, scoring wines out of 10 points and writing only the briefest of notes in order to speed myself up. Wines scoring 7+ were average wines, drinkable, but I would not seek them out for purchase. Anything scoring 8 or higher is an above average wine, something I would buy for myself, assuming the price is reasonable. Anyway, here are my notes on the Champagnes and other sparkling wines:

Bruno Paillard's wines were my favorite Sparkling wines of the event. I was truly surprised at how good they were, the whole lineup (almost) was really impressive. Technically not "grower" Champagne because they buy grapes, but this is not your typical big house Champagne.

NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut (9) Electric nose of white flowers. Elegant palate, fresh, lively, just delicious.

NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Premier Cuvee
(8) More weighty on the nose, thicker texture, nice red fruit behind the toast. Also very good. 45% Pinot Noir. Premier Cuvee means first pressing, in this case.

NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Rose Premier Cuvee (8+) Solera system for the Pinot Noir still wine used here, and the complexity is evident in the nose and palate. Berries and flowers, but elegant and dry.

1996 Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut (10) The most exciting and delicious Champagne of the tasting for me. Haunting aromas of honeyed citrus, some wax, some nuts. What a nose! The aromas follow through on the palate, but the wine is not honeyed, as the nose would suggest. So silky, such complex and well balanced flavors, so powerful and elegant. This spends 9 years on the lees. I want this wine in my cellar!

NV Delamotte Champagne Brut (7+) The second wine of Salon. Pleasant, but next to the Salon, nothing special.

NV Delamotte Champagne Brut Rose (7+) Nice fruit aromas, a bit clunky.

1996 Salon Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs (9+) White flowers, citrus, roast nuts on the elegant and lively nose. Sort of oily mouth feel, perfectly balanced. This is just delicious. I found out afterwards that this stuff sells for about $350 per bottle. C'est la vie, eh?

NV Champagne Beaumont des Crayeres Brut Grand Prestige (7+) Weighty, nutty nose, sweeter palate.

NV Champagne Beaumont des Crayeres Brut Rose (7) Cheese on the nose - yes, cheese. Funky, with some flowers too, and an od palate. Could this have been off?

2002 Hermann J Wiemer Blanc de Blancs (8) I love this NY State winery's Rieslings, and it was fun to taste the sparkling wines. Weimer just changed hands - let's hope the quality stays high under new ownership. Fresh nose, yeasty, honeysuckle. Slightly sweet on the palate, but balanced. Is there Riesling in this wine? In any case, I liked it.

2003 Hermann J Wiemer Blanc de Noirs (7+) Made almost entirely of Pinot Noir, this was strawberry scented and pleasant. Not terribly complex or exciting, but yummy.

NV Mirabelle Brut (7) Mirabelle is made by Schramsberg, their entry level wine. This was too sweet for my tastes.

NV Mirabelle Brut Rose (7) Also too sweet, but that's just me. It certainly is reasonably priced, and if you are having lots of relatives over for brunch, let's say...

2004 Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blancs (8) I was excited to try Schramsberg wines, as I understand them to be the creme de la creme of American sparkling wine. This Blanc de Blancs had an elegant floral nose with some citrus too. Even though the palate is more weighty than I expected, this is still highly enjoyable.

2004 Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Noirs (7+) A little funk on the nose, sweet berry and brown sugar flavors. 85% Pinot Noir in this one.

2004 Schramsberg Vineyards Brut Rose (7+) 66% Chardonnay here. Cheese and berries on the nose, good fruit with a nice light finish.

2000 Schramsberg Vineyards Reserve (8) 70% Pinot Noir here. Very nice nose of roast nuts and citrus. A bit weighty on the palate, but the flavors of sweet cherry are just lovely.

1999 J Schram Brut (8+) This is Schramsberg's top label. The wines are quite limited. This one is mostly Chardonnay, and had a piercing nose of flowers and minerals, some citrus too. Delicate palate echoed those flavors. Seemed like it could continue to improve with cellaring. Very impressive, the first Schramsberg wine I tasted that combined great texture and elegance on the palate with fine aromas.

1998 J Schram Brut Rose (9) Sweet berry nose with fresh flowers. Well balanced palate of red fruit, some citrus hints, and minerals. Stayed in my mouth and nose long after swallowing - this is really good stuff. Too bad it's basically impossible to find.

That's as far as I could get in the sparkling department. Next installment is Burgundy, and let me tell you - some fascinating and wonderful wines. Same bat time, same bat channel...


Deetrane said...

My comments are coming soon.

Joe said...

You're scoring?!

Brooklynguy said...

sounds good dee.

Joe - not really. only way i can indicate to myself later on how i valued the wines relative to each other. the scores have no absolute value to anyone other than me.

Andrew Nielsen said...

I do love the NV Bruno Paillard Champagne Brut Rose Premier Cuvee - and at $45 it is a steal!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great way to spend a day!

I've seen the Paillard wines but never tried them. Your notes make me want to. Schramsberg's wines are not hard to find in the Bay Area. If you're in Napa their property is definitely worth visiting for historical reasons at least, as they are one of the few wineries with facilities that are actually in a cave, as opposed to a building.

Um, don't think I'll be trying that Salon any time soon....but I am spending October in Paris and hope to get Loire'd out on stuff I've never seen before.

Marcus said...

Bguy you are very wise for focusing and very professional in your approach. I think this is a good time if ever to score wines like you did. A lot of people benefit from your notes and ordering the wines based on a more-or-less controlled environment isn't a bad idea.

The only thing left I'd like to see are retail prices to access value. Any chance?

Joe said...

just teasin' ;) - that's the way I feel about my scores.

Brooklynguy said...

Hi Andrew - NYC retail is probably a bit more than $45, but I agree that it is very good wine. By the way, your background and site are very interesting - i will spend more time checking out your blog. Thanks for stopping by.

Steve - Yeah, I was shocked by Paillard too, not cause I thought poorly of them, I just get surprised when a producer that I am not reading about on blogs anywhere is making such excellent wine. Before Pairs check out Wine Terroirs (link on my blogroll), if you haven't already. Bertrand writes about wine bars, wine shops, and of course, visits to wineries.

Thanks Marcus. I'm not sure of retail prices, but I think the Schramsberg wines run from mid $30s to late $40s in NYC. Paillard Brut might be about $40-45, the rest higher. But I'm not sure. Did you try wine searcher?

Don't worry Joe - I'll get you when you're here.

Joe said...

I'm very worried. I seem to have barely dodged the bullet with Marcus, only to end up on Brooklyn's dartboard...

Brooklynguy said...

Yes, be afraid - very afraid