Friday, 6 June 2014

LWW: Laurent Perrier tasting at Bluebird Wine Cellar

After the success of the Port and chocolate tasting that I went to on Wednesday evening I had high hopes for the tasting that I was heading to on Thursday evening as part of London Wine Week.

The evening was hosted by Bluebird Wine Cellar on the King's Road, Chelsea and they were showcasing four Champagnes from one of the biggest and most renowned Champagne houses - Laurent Perrier. Laurent Perrier's representative Ashley Wilce was on hand to provide us with an interesting history of the company from its foundation in 1812, through two World Wars, up to the present day where it is one of the world's most famous and recognised brands. Interestingly in an era when so many top estates and Champagne houses have been bought up by global multi-nationals Laurent Perrier has remained a family business.

We started the evening with Laurent Perrier's Non Vintage Brut (£39/bottle from Bluebird or on offer at £27.99 at Waitrose until 10/06). Ever since its foundation Laurent Perrier has focussed on Chardonnay-driven Champagnes in order to focus on clean, fresh tasting wines. The NV Brut that we tasted was 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier and had been aged for a minimum of three years in Stainless Steel barrels. As you would expect this resulted in a fresh and zesty Champagne with a very clean finish. There were some fruity flavours present, on the green apple end of the spectrum. I really liked this Champagne and at £39/bottle I felt it represented pretty good value. 8//10.

Next up, Ashley wanted to show something very different, Laurent Perrier's Non Vintage Ultra Brut (£49/bottle from Bluebird, £56.95 at Harrods) - a  zéro dosage. I've tried  zéro dosage Champagnes and sparkling wines before and I'll admit to not being their biggest fan. There was not much showing on the nose, but on tasting it was racy and mineralic with chalky characteristics - indeed it completely cleansed the palate. This wine is aged for a minimum of four years and is 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir. I would say that this was a much more elegant and balanced  zéro dosage than previous examples I've tried, which have been a lot more acidic and in your face than this. Ashley noted that this wine is very popular with restaurants, which I can understand - its clean and fresh aspect would be a great match for seafood, but also with other food as it won't compete on the flavour front. It was also noted that at 67 calories a glass, this is a good option for the calorie counters! I would give it a 7.5/10.

For the next wine we went straight to the top end of the spectrum - Laurent Perrier's NV Siècle La Cuvée (£125/bottle from Bluebird, £75 at Majestic). This is currently a mixture of their 1996, 1997 and 1999 vintages and is aged for a minimum of seven years. It has a mixture of 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir - retaining Laurent-Perrier's Chardonnay-driven style. On the nose it was refined and elegant, yet slightly reserved. On tasting there was an initial five second burst of fruits and honey, before it settled in to a gloriously long and vibrant finish. This was a superstar of a Champagne; really, really classy and poised - I liked this a lot! 9/10.

For the last of the four Champagnes we moved on to the Laurent Perrier NV Rosé (£56/bottle from Bluebird, or currently on offer at Waitrose for £42.99 until 10/06), which is made from 100% Pinot Noir. This wine is aged for a minimum of four years in its development and is one of the House's best sellers. It was a little herbal on the nose, but on the mouth it transformed into something luscious and fruity with strawberries and red cherries coming through in abundance - a perfect summer sparkler. 8.5/10

This was an excellent evening and special kudos must go to Ashley and the team at Bluebird for managing such a good event with so many people.

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