le vin du Diable!

Now that was a blast!

I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than to sip champagne with friends on the patio. Mother Nature did her best to dampen our spirits today but after tasting a few samples indoors we moved outside to sabre the remaining bottles under the sun. Champagne is among the most celebrated of all wines. Its tiny bubbles appear as though they might be beads of crystals mysteriously appearing and floating single-file to the surface where they burst to release the wine's incredible aromas.

To say that champagne was once greatly frowned upon would not be an exaggeration. Those who first produced these wines did everything in their power to prevent the formation of the bubbles, but in the end, nature won and the bubbles prevailed. Rather volatile when bottled, the wine was considered extremely dangerous and the people of Champagne asked the church to investigate the demonic behaviour of their wine. Dom Perignon, a Benedictine Monk, learned how to control the seemingly untameable gas and mastered the art of blending wines to create a product Champagne could call their own while English scientist, Christopher Merret explored the concept of secondary fermentation and perfected methods of containing the wine. Together, both men helped shape what would soon become arguably the world's greatest wine. But can any one person take credit for its invention? Likely not. This Sparkling phenomenon is quite simply the product of enclosed fermentation which, though artificially contained, is completely natural.

Our selections for today's tasting span a range of styles: two Brut, one Demi-Sec, and a Vintage wine. The wines were served chilled and were pair with delicious appetizers of varying textures and tastes.

The wines sampled are listed below in order of tasting:

Louis Roederer, Brut Premier
Moët et Chandon, Imperial Rosé
1996 Gosset, Grand Millésime
Veuve Clicquot, Demi-Sec

Tasting from driest to sweetest, there is a good variety here today and our group tasted and ranked the wines in order of personal preference, the results are show below:

1st - 1996 Gosset Grand Millésime
2ndVeuve Clicquot, Demi-Sec
3rd - Louis Roederer, Brut Premier
4th - Moët & Chandon Imperial Rosé

The wine of the day was undoubtedly the 1996 Gosset, Grand Millésime. This bottle is a perfect example of how Champagne changes (arguably, for the better) with a few years spent in the cellar. The vintage Gosset had long since lost is crisp, citrus qualities becoming full bodied and displaying beautiful toasty notes on the palate. 80% of the group voted the Gosset as their favourite and 100% placed it in their top two selections. While the 1996 vintage is no longer available through the LCBO, the 1999 is, and you can view this wine in our virtual cellar.

The Demi-Sec from the house of Veuve Clicquot was a sweet surprise and seemed quite smooth on the palate in comparison to the Brut selections. Of course, the milk chocolate dipped strawberries only added to the experience. The Louis Roederer, Brut Premier started off the tasting and displayed typical Brut champagne qualities of apple and toast - not a bad effort, but nothing to celebrate was the consensus on this one. Ranking last today was Moët & Chandon's Imperial Rosé. Surprising in a sense, being from the house of the famous cuvée Dom Perignon, but most of us felt the Moët Rosé lacked finesse and was perhaps, a touch sour.

We opened the first three selections with very little pizzazz; just a pop to be exact. But Tyler brought his 18th century French sword-bayonet and was waiting patiently for the sun to peek through the clouds. When the dark clouds did finally part, he beheaded the two bottles of Clicquot to a great roar of cheer. Of course it's even more fun if you get to try it yourself he said, and with that, a case of Canada's great Spumante Bambino surfaced; at $7 a bottle, the perfect candidate for sabreing! Topped with fancy hats, we each tried our hand at sabreing. In all, a dozen bottles of bubbly fell to the sword this afternoon - too much fun, and Fernanda took the prize for the best chapeau!

Thank-you once again for participating in our tasting today and we look forward to sampling Chianti Classico together in September.


Click here to watch Tyler sabre a bottle of bubbly.