79 Champagne Estates have come together to showcase their products in Australia. This is because Australia is the seventh largest Champagne market in the world and growing strongly in unit imports as well as value. A tasting of this kind is a bit different from your average wine tasting. The atmosphere is a bit more hushed and serious.
The trade tasting. Bollinger was the most popular stand
What was I looking for when the choice was between over 200 different Champagnes to taste? I have a lot less experience in tasting bubbles compared with still wine, but I know what I like: freshness, complexity of flavour, and some toastiness, all in balance. These were my findings:
Overall, the quality was very good, but there was not much wow!, I must say.
Vintage vs. Non-Vintage: The proportion of vintage Champagne sold in Australia is very small, smaller than in most other countries. This, no doubt, is due to the high pricing for these wines, particularly in Australia. And this tasting did not convince me. Freshness was lacking in many vintage wines, in particular the Bollinger La Grande Année 2007. But then, the Charles Heidsieck Brut Vintage 2005 was my Champagne of the day. Still fresh, with great depth, balance and elegance.
The second debate is between the quality and distinctiveness of the large Champagne houses versus the increasingly popular grower Champagnes. I would call this a draw. I was impressed by Ruinart, Billecart-Salmon, Charles Heidsieck, Larmandier-Bernier, De Sousa, André Clouet and Jacquesson.
Then there is the question of Rosé. A number of Champagnes in this category were a little sweet, but I can recommend as dry Rosés the Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé NV and the Bollinger Rosé Brut NV.