You say drink Champagne, I drink Champagne. It’s as easy as that. When Michael from Steves Fine Wine & Food in Nedlands recently invited me to attend their Champagne Masterclass, I just had to go.
Steves runs regular intimate masterclasses throughout the year for anywhere between 16-30 people. This was the last masterclass for 2014. However I did overhear the they’ll be back up and running in January 2015 with the first one being Rose Champagne Masterclass!
To keep up to date with the classes, make sure you sign-up for the Steves Newsletter and follow Steves on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I’m not 100% sure if all masterclasses are the same price, however this Champagne one was $95 per person which included a glass of Veuve Clicquot Champagne on arrival, tasting of 8 Champagnes + a surprise tasting and gorgeous canapés. The evening started at 7pm and finished roughly around 8:30-9pm.
The tasting was held in the end room of Steves wine shop and was just a casual, cocktail party style tasting. Everyone stood up, mingled and drank till we were all merry! It was a nice style of masterclass as I think it really took the unpretentious snobbery out of what some wine tastings can be like.
I was flying solo on this particular evening, so the causal setup meant I could mingle and chat to a number of lovely people. I also thought that everyone opened up a lot more in this type of situation, people weren’t scared to state their opinions on the wines and discuss them. I find a lot of tastings people tend to whisper what they think to the person beside them and that’s it.
The canapés were delectable, there just wasn’t enough of them. I wanted the tray of freshly shucked oysters with fresh lemon in front of me all night! All the canapés were to die for and extremely top quality, every little morsel was prepared perfectly to match the gorgeous tipples we had in our glasses.
So what did we try?? Here was the lineup:
- NV Canard Duchene ‘Cuvee Leonie’
- NV Canard Duchene Green (Organic)
- NV Billecart Salmon Brut
- NV Champagne Thienot Brut
- Champagne Thienot Millesime 2005
- NV Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
- Castelli Estate 2008 (this was the surprise blind tasting!)
- MV Krug Grande Cuvee
- 2004 Cuvee Dom Perignon
I didn’t write any tasting notes as between my glass, camera and wanting to try all the delectable canapés on hand, well a pen and paper wasn’t going to work. What a bugger hey, I just had to simply, enjoy! And thanks to Uber’s free week, it meant I wasn’t driving too, so no need to spit!!
I think speaking for everyone, we all learnt a few new things about Champagne. What I have never realised before is that Krug doesn’t use the term NV (non-vintage) but instead uses MV (multi-vintage).
So what were my top picks? As always I love Billecart-Salmon and Krug however I also REALLY enjoyed the 2004 Dom Perignon, it is drinking so well at the moment and I may have even enjoyed it more than the Krug on this particular night! I was speaking to two of DP’s biggest fans most of the evening, who are pictured below. Such a lovely, sweet couple who are expats from Brazil. I hope they enjoy their DP and Krug they have at home!!
Naturally I had to buy something to take home, the DP was oh so tempting but with the recent progress payment for our house added on to our mortgage I thought I better not. So instead I opted for a bottle of the NV Canard Duchene Green for $80. I’m quite the fan of CD as the sabre Mr. Spittoon bought for me for Christmas last year is a CD branded sabre. I found the Champas absolutely beautiful and I haven’t come across many Champas made from organically grown grapes so it was an easy decision.
All up it was a fabulous night out at a beautiful venue. A huge thanks to Michael and the team at Steves for inviting me along for the masterclass. Cheers!
Here are a few of my Champagne tasting notes from previous occasions:
Krug Grande Cuvée from Reims, Champagne, France
Special occasions call for special wines and Krug is the boss of special wines. I tried Krug about 4 years ago and I have never forgotten how this Champagne changed my life – I didn’t know such amazing wines existed before it! I picked this bottle up for $198 from Dan Murphy’s, everything from the gold writing on the maroon box to the little white envelope with info booklet inside oozes luxury. The shape of a Krug bottle is just so darn sexy. So what makes this Champas a class above the rest in my opinion? Well it looks like pure gold, shimmering sunny happiness. It has seductive aromas of freshly baked white bread, lemon curd and meringue. On the palate there is so much depth of flavour – citrus fruits, orchard fruits, hazelnuts, nougat and fresh pastry flavours all tantalise your taste buds. The mousse and bubbles are oh so small and tiny, it dances on your palate with elegance and finesse. AMAZING! You’ll struggle to look back after this, I warn you! Krug Grande Cuvée is a blend of over 120 wines from 10 different vintages.
Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Réserve from Champagne, France
I picked up this bubbles from Chateau Guildford for about AU$80. Commonly known as simply “Billy”, this effervescent silver-gold elixir has taken out the #1 spot of my fave NV bubbly, Mr. Spittoon is in complete agreement. Girls: it’s sexy in a glass, guys: you’re going to get lucky tonight with a bottle of this at the ready! On the eye it’s a gorgeous sunshine yellow with teeny tiny speedy bubbles. Gorgeous aromas of toast, pineapple, pear and citrus fruits float up from the glass. And in the mouth… Oh my… It’s flirty, pretty and the utter epiphany of elegance. Think old-fashioned lemonade meets the most delicate apple-pastry dessert. I’m in love, 2 way..
Ruinart NV Blanc de Blanc Brut from Reims in Champagne, France
This 100% Chardonnay bubbles comes in an awesomely presented box and the chubby, stocky clear bottle this fine liquid comes in really sets it apart from its sparkling counterparts. On the eye it is a clear yellow crystal with fine fast streaming bubbles. On the nose aromas of citrus, brioche and a touch of kiwi fruit tease the senses. In the mouth the mousse is oh la la so smooth, it has a touch of fruit sweetness with works in perfect harmony with the acidity. Flavours of mango, grape fruit and pastry come through on the palate. Gorgeous way to start the #WAday long weekend, AU$110 from Liquor Barons.
Veuve Clicquot ‘Yellow-Label’ NV Brut from Reims, Champagne, France
The Widow Clicquot was my introduction into the Champagne world many years ago and I even visited the Champagne house in France a couple of years ago. You can’t go wrong with a bottle of VC whether it’s for brekkie, lunch or tea! I still can’t believe I haven’t popped a note up about this yet however since my lovely parents had 2 bottles delivered for breakfast on Christmas day I thought I had better! On the eye it’s a stunning shimmering silver gold with fine fast streaming bubbles. On the nose it has a beautiful array of aromas from biscuits, to citrus fruits, to lychee & apples. Those flavours slide through onto the palate. It’s just so darn fresh and delightful with nice complexity and balance. I’ll never get sick of my yellow label and when you can pick it up for around $50 on sale it’s a bargain for such elegance and luxury! Cheers to you widow Clicquot!