A recent Australian tasting held in Brisbane convened by awarded champagne author Tyson Stelzer surveyed four brands of champagne sourced from their Australian agents and from parallel imports.
Wines sourced from the UK and the Netherlands have turned up at the Sydney stores of Kemeny’s over the past year.
The tasting was conducted blind, and by pairs, with wines from Lanson, Taittinger, Billecart-Salmon and Bollinger.
It is a tough ask really-as many champagnes will vary from bottle to bottle just due to cork quality (can be obnoxious, not the case at this tasting).
The only steadying feature was the Billecart-Salmon wines sealed under Mytik and consequently make my sensory efforts feel rewarded.
And what were the results? Well mixed and not really designed to have a purposeful witch hunt but more an assessment of what is out there in consumer land and how these champagnes taste when found from different sources (therefore capable of quite varying shipping and storage regimes, either good or bad).
One issue is certain, it’s about time that the Champagne industry forced its producers to declare the disgorging dates of each wine-for consumer guidance of cork age; both short and long, with the attendant effect on drinking quality.
Results varied: five expert tasters voted for the preference between pairs of wines.
For example, Lanson Black Label NV (AUD 50) from the supermarket Woolworths was tasted against the same wine sold at Kemeny’s (AUD 33) imported from an unknown source.
Four tasters voted for the Kemeny’s product, two said the Woolworths. The Kemeny’s origin wine was in slightly better shape.
Australians are big drinkers of champagnes at all price levels. Now they have even more value propositions as some of the discounting retailers choose to undercut the traditional direct lines of supply and obviously extra profit by middle men.
Woolworths of course are the direct importer of Lanson, a venerable old house which I have always enjoyed. The two NV tasted were very good.