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Millenium Champagne Tasting

Place: A gite near Rheims, France

Gareth Barker, Anja Dietel, Roger Jardine, Chris, Ed and James Kay, Quentin William Maxwell Lambert, Mark Masento, Bill Martin, Guy Nason, Simon Rutter, Catharine Shafto, Caroline & George Wickham


Philippa Nason

Other business:


Colours (what a rubbish theme!) -Webed


Glorious sun.
and finally...

The wines:

Notes by Cath

1. Tattinger, Millennium Version

Guy had to go behind the tree to open this wine which sparked a number of comments about having a quick pee, to which Guy retorted that he’d be very popular with the girls if he peed champagne!!!

MM- toasty, fresh bread aromas, most people quickly seemed to go for a genuine "champagne". GB dons beret in order to enhance its Frenchness. Some comments about it going flat too quickly (poor washing up!). EK – Lanson as he knows it’s Guy’s favourite. MM goes for Veuve Cliquot as he thinks it’s better than Mercier Non Vintage to which Guy replies "I wouldn’t buy vintage, it’s just a fad". Purchased in Auchan forFF140.

When questioned about the theme, Guy thought it was "millennium" not "Colours", hence his choice of wine.

2. Vin Jaune Arbois, Jura

Initial comments started with the colour, going back to Guy and trees, sample jars etc. SR – "This reminds me of Pineau (an aperitif from W France)", no taste. MM goes for an old mazanilla as it’s salty. After prolonged guessing and not getting close, EK tells us it’s a theme wine and from Europe. Many ask if it’s fortified and if it’s supposed to taste as it does, which Ed assures us that it does. Purchased in Auchan for FF90

Theme connection – jaune is of course French for yellow

3. Chateau Carbonnieux 1959

Wine 3 gets turned into "I’m Free" by QL who then has to explain the intricacies of British comedies to Anja. AD- "smells petrolly, urine colour" EK – "an old dodgy riesling?", QL – "Child’s paddling pool nose", several – "rather digusting", tastes like Guy’s urine. Other suggestions include "Kerner", "semillion and M tells us it’s only one grape varietal. Carbonnieux BM – "as in carbolic acid?). Eventually someone guesses a very old white bordeaux. Purchased at auction 6 months ago for £20. A grand vin de graves.

Theme connection – carbon = black (tenuous?)

4. Riesling Fritz Haag 1998 "Brauneberger"

Comments on the nose include "pear drops", "dollu mixture", "drinking urine" (this seems to have become an obsession – CS!), "green apples", "floral", BM – "an apple rubbed with a lime". Leading us to of course recognise the typical characteristics of riesling fairly quickly. Comments on the wine included "Yum, perfect for this Summer weather". Most guessed "Trocken" on the sweetness scale. Purchased for DEM15 in a local wine shop in Frankfurt.

Theme connection – AD spotted the german "Braunegerger on the label, which of course means Brown Mountain (entirely unintentional by Simon).

5. Spatlese Riesling 1985 "Wurtemberg".

Tea-towel-head a.k.a. RJ – "A much older riesling" (explanation required was that RJ had to don tea-towel in order to protect his bare scalp from the French sun but this was too late as the damage had been done…), "nutty finish". Guesses led us fairly swiftly to German and rieslings but it was much harder work guessing the region which QL described as "experimental". As noone guessed he had to give it away as being Wertenberg near Stuttgart. No year guesses were close either, most guessing early 90’s. Purchased for DEM17 in a local wine shop in Frankfurt.

Theme connection – apparently it said gold on the lable somewhere??

6. Alsace, Domaine Dock.

Unfortunately Cath had an earlier disaster which meant that her original tasting choice smashed on the garden path so this was a last minute substitute. Unfortunately by this stage half the group had gone onto a discussion about German porn movies, in particular one with "Danke Anke"! (No-one present will admit to having seen it though). However the other half of the group were guessing Alsace as it had a very distinct lychee Gewurtraminer nose. (NB Cath could not take notes and pour!) Bought at the vineyard for 35FF by QL.

Theme connection – none apparently but it’s a gold medal winner.

7. Errazuriz, Chile,1997

GN -"Maths by sex", ?- "crème anglaise", a complex wine. EK – "chardonnay with Australian oak" GN - "I’m sure we had this at our wedding". MM " it’s one you’ve all had before". Nobody guessed Chile but other new world countries were suggested. Tesco £6.50

Theme – not mentioned.

8. Burgundy, Nuit St Georges, Grand Cru 1997

At this juncture, much debate ensued about who’s red should go first as more people seemed to have late reds rather than early ones but eventually RJ agreed his was more early than late. A further distraction was provided by MM who materialised with some gherkins which BM referred to as "pickled toad’s penis".

Colour – "yes, that’s early", "anemic". Somebody smelt blackcurrants and suggested a Cab Sauv. Others volunteered "white chocolate". "gamay" – Cath which then led on to a young burgundy. In order to test this theory we had to ask Chris, the pinot lover if she liked it, to which the response was an adamant "yes" and that she’d eat Roger’s teatowell/Arabian hat if it was a burgundy. However the rest of the group stuck with Burgundy "Volnay"- MM, 1996 – MM, older – EK. Purchased at Waitrose for £18. Chris then has to proceed to eat Roger’s hat.

Theme – Burgundy (rubbish!)

9. Chilean Merlot, "Isla Negra" 1999

NB. Billy Boy also had to borrow a wine at the last minute as Auchan didn’t satisfy his needs.

AD continues the German porn thing by calling GN Gunter (a retaliation for Danke Anke I think). "I’ve never seen a porn film with Gunter in but I could make one" RJ "Mine’s a Neun Incher". EK –(not to be sidetracked) – "Californian Grenache" AD-"beetrooty" which of course led to the "Beetroot Bill" tastings of old. GN – "No staying power, but it’s got huge legs" (apparently a reference to the wine, not the German porn).Purchased from Tescos I think.

Theme reference – Negra = black but people seemed more interested in giving Bill a hard time about his failure to produce a wine.

10. Bordeaux, Margot 1995

AD has proceeded to take over from RJ with the Arabian look which puts everyone off drying up. GN "What’s 6" with a blue vein?" "A $5 note!!!"(guffaw, guffaw). RJ then dons some sun screen. MM – "haut medoc, Margot", ? – "definitely not French". GB admits it’s a French Bordeau and then there are guesses of the region. CK – 1995 – correct. EK "That’s between thingy and wotsit". Purchased at Auchan for FF80

11. Baron de Brune, 1995

QL claims to know instantly what this is and most quickly guess another red bordeaux. SR disputed this "You’re talking out of your arse" EK – There’s an extra plain chocolate bit so there could be some cabernet franc". Purchased at Nicolas for FF145

Theme connection – brown again

12. Le Jardin de Petit Village, Pomerol, 1996

MM seems to be sidetracked and talks about photos of "red mafioso shooting splodge" [What???]-Webed Cath goes for Rhone which is instantly corrected by MM who guesses it is of course ANOTHER red bordeau. BM- "turnip harmonic, beetroot soup". MM – "the main ingredient is potatoes". AD – "colloids". Year guesses include 1989, 1990 or the year they got married (1997). Most then go for mid ‘80s bordeaux. GN- St Emillion, GB- definitely Pomerol. Which it was… Purchased at Oddbinns for £17.

Theme – not in evidence!!

13. St Esteph, 1986

[BM takes over as scribe] Dog shags Quentin’s leg. Dog is found to be severely underage. QL complains he was a bit too rough and thought he looked older. It later transpires that the dog was called "Filou" which seems to translate in Bill’s mind as "Feel You". Wine CW – smells like boiled beetroot (which of course leads to a string of Beetroot Bill jokes for those who remember the society around that era…)MM – blackcurranty – merlot in a good year. CS – headache, RJ looks upset. MM – definitely Bordeaux. GB – smells of Wales (in his beret). It turns out it is a Graves from St. Esteph. Most concurred on the mid ‘80’s Human League, Soft Cell type era. Bought in a Frankfurt duty free for £7 4 years ago. Most agree it was exceedlingly good value for money at which stage George admits they’d made a pricing error.

14. Chateau Margaux Premier Cru Classe,1929

All – "brown, old cheesy feet, definitely past its best, stewed apples, caramelly," ? – It’s just like a Rumtopf". George guesses an age but is half a century out. Bought at auction for £40

Interest in the theme seems to have died out at this stage…

15. Auslese kerner Grossfischlinger-Kirchberg, 1988

Her leading comment is "I might surprise you" – does this mean it’s not German? Comments on the nose include "barley sugars" BM – "Lamb and mint sauce" which leads on to a conversation about various roast dinners. When it came to guessing the age, most people were somewhere in the 70’s (Mamma Mia and thereabouts). It was bought in Munich for DEM34 and was a lucky punt as it was the last in the shop.

16. "Katzpiss", 1914-1918

MM – "Women have all over suntans in German porn movies". "Oh dear, the wine has frozen". ?- "could be a riesling". Most comments were suitably critical about this wine. MM gives a clue – "definitely German". More colour comments about urine which turned out to be apt…

From the bottle.. "sharp as a Porcupine’s Penis from a rare German village". Again bought in auction for £1 (no-one could say it was money well spent)

17. Halbron Shaurabe Eiswein, 1998

SR – "smells toasty". QL – definitely grapefruit juice. BM – marmelade and nettles mixed together. CS- grapefruit bacardi breezer. Purchased for DM40

The Winners were: