Holiday Bubbly: A Champagne Tasting

Saturday, December 18, 2010 - 
Almost every week, the Payless Liquors in Carmel hosts a wine tasting.  A smaller group of regulars is always there and the two times Tim and I have been, we have felt like the party crashers, but I know this isn't the vibe they want to set.  It is open to anyone who wants to join, you just have to sign up in advance.  We enjoyed ourselves at a German wine tasting, so when I say the Moet Hennessy tasting around the holiday season, I signed us up knowing that it would be perfect for Day 16: Holiday Bubbly on the advent calendar.


A distributor from Moet Hennessy USA presented us with eight different sparkling wines or champagnes to enjoy.  They were all unique in their way, and I learned a lot about the history of the sparkling wine:
  1. Chandon Brut - seemingly bitter, this is a sparkling wine from California.  Primarily Pinot Noir, followed by Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier for grapes.  Light in color, it was a dry sparkling wine that paired great with the cheese we were given (first photo above.)
  2. Chandon Blanc de Noir - another Californian wine, I thought it was too simple in flavor.  It was very subtle, and when eaten with anything, the subtle flavor was overpowered.  This would be a sip alone beverage, if you enjoy the light taste.  I prefer more bold flavors personally (second photo above.)
  3. Moet Imperial - this champagne is formerly known as "White Star" but changed names to adapt globally for sales.  Smells subtly sweet, and consists mostly of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.
  4. Clicquot Yellow Label - hubs and I wanted to try this again, because we thought it smelled a little off when we tried it.  Strong in yeast smell, the champagne was odd on it's own, but great with the brie (third photo above.)
  5. Ruinart Blanc de Blanc - all Chardonnay grapes (which makes sense for a white on white), the bottle was definitely unique in presentation.  Subtle yeast smell, this champagne tasted much better with food than on it's own.  Fun fact - Ruinart is buried next to Dom Perignon, they were close friends who both had a great sense of knowing when grapes were ready to be harvested, thus producing some great champagnes (shown below, with the following wines to follow.)
  6. Chandon Rose - the sparkling rose was sweet, but a clean rose which didn't seem typcal.  Predominately Chardonnay grapes, the color is from the Pinot Noir still wine which is added for both sweetness aned color.  Would be great paired with a spicy food as the acid would cut it perfectly.
  7. Moet Nectar Imperial Rose - though sweeter in flavor (it has a residual sugar of 3%,) this was one of our favorites of the evening.  It is something my friends who enjoy sweet wine would also like, but with the subtle dryness, I too would be able to indulge in this champagne.
  8. Ruinart Rose - another great bottle, this champagne popped in your mouth with all the carbonation.  It was a good way to end the tasting - though we were munching on potato chips at this point (yes, potato chips and champagne, really a great combo!) so it helped cut the sweet factor a bit.

The tastings typically last from 6:30-8:00 p.m., and they are entirely free.  From what we've scene, the distributors of the products are the presenters, but the owners of Payless are just as knowledgable ready to answer any questions you have as well.  In addition, you then have the option of purchasing any of the products you just tasted at a 10% discount.  It really is a great deal, and I love that it is right down the street!

Which holiday bubbly do you plan to pop over the upcoming New Year celebration?