The Champagne Hunger Games

Recently the Wine Monkeys went to the ‘hard hat’ tasting at the building site that is destined to be the member’s wine club ’67 Pall Mall’.

A previous tasting had seen the traditional set up of producers behind trestle tables pouring their wines for more or less engaged (and more or less sober) punters.  It is a tried and tested… and somewhat forgettable formula.

This night was destined to be different.  Unknown to us, every half hour the champagne poured into our glass changed.  Like the Hunger Games, we never knew what the next session would bring; an explosion of taste, a tidal wave of pleasure or a noxious gas of flavour.

On entry we were handed a glass of the beautiful Gosset 2000.  It was a great start to the evening, setting the scene and atmosphere with its richly elegant and refined palate.  As the clock struck the hour, cinderella’s dress did not turn into rags at the ball, it was worse.  Unannounced, a new champagne was poured into our glass.  Blind we all took a sip and I am sad to say it simply did not impress.  Yes, it had a tough act to follow, but the Deutz NV was green, sour and unripe.  We gave it a second chance from a different bottle but the result was the same.   The noxious gas was seeping down through the crowds.

The prospect of being dry for 30 mins was obviously intolerable so we prevailed upon a hapless waiter with the combined power of the three wine monkeys (persuasive, intimidating and charming – you can decide which monkey employed which tactic) to fast track us to the next wine. I am happy to say Pol Roger White Foil did not disappoint; vibrantly alive with lovely depth to the mid palate, perfect for an increasingly upbeat gathering.  Lanson Black Label was up next and I have to say we were pleasantly surprised at the complexity and balance of the wine, they have certainly upped their game since we last encountered them.

Continuing through the night we tasted Taittinger Prelude (lovely) Ambriel Classic Cuvee (bright and youthful) and Mayfield Expression (raw and biting). No matter whether a wine was enjoyed or disparaged it was a wonderful way of tasting in a cocktail party environment when everyone was on the same wine at the same time, your time could be taken over the tasting and the discussion, and the anticipation built towards the next unknown wine.  Not to mention tasting wines you might have skipped in a more traditional tasting environment.

In short it was definitely three monkey thumbs up for an interesting and innovative night.


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