Sommelier India Tasting Panel assesses champagnes and sparkling wines in a blind tasting

The Sommelier India tasting panel got together in early November to taste sparkling wines and champagne. The aim of our blind tasting was quite simple. With the rise in popularity of sparkling wines across the board, we wanted to compare bubblies from different regions produced in the methode champenoise with genuine Champagne.

Wines lined up
Sparkling wines and Champagne paired with chicken biryani

The tasters were individuals from the wine and restaurant business, winemakers, importers and wine writers who were asked to rate the wines on 20, after which an overall ranking was reached based on average scores. We tasted five Champagnes of which two were toppers, one faulty, and one that was rated very low “with a broken heart” as one panellist expressed it! The sparkling wines acquitted themselves very well, almost on par with Champagnes.

A blind tasting is not infallible but it removes atleast some of the biases that may occur if the labels are known. The discussion following the tasting after the labels were revealed was both lively and informed, and carried on well into the evening over a buffet of biryani and small eats.

The wines tasted appear below in order of preference with tasting notes by Craig Wedge.

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve
Straw yellow green tinge. Complex nose of white fruit with caramel honeyed nougat notes, toasted brioche and spicy apple blossom. Developed secondary fruit flavours supported by a deliciously refined, old-world mouthfeel.
Fabulous length and finish. A beguiling and very classy wine. MRP Rs 6,600

Moët & Chandon Impérial
Vibrant pale straw green tinge. Soft white fruit, candied apple/toffee notes and talcum floral perfume. Fresh crunchy acidity lends support to a balanced mouth of flavour. Great overall length and texture.
MRP Rs 7,210

Sensi Calappiano Prosecco IGT
Pale gold green tinge. Lifted green apple nose with floral, soap-on-a-rope perfume and subtle mineral undertones. Big mouthful of flavour and soft texture with good depth and mouthwatering acidity.
MRP Rs 2,550 (Mumbai)

Prosecco Brut DOC Treviso “18K”
Pale straw green highlights. Ripe fruit notes with lifted floral/ talcum overtones. Good overall weight and texture with clean vibrant acidity.
MRP Rs 3,600 (Mumbai)

Tasters lined up
Pictured above, after the tasting, from left to right: Jug & Bunny Suraiya, Gurjit Barry, Craig Wedge, Reva Singh, Fabio Zardetto, Judith Sciarone and Rukn Luthra

Cava Faustino Extra Dry
Pale straw with subtle green hue. Lush fruit notes with a slight oxidative edge offering up both complexity and intrigue. Good overall flavour yet the wine promises more than it delivers finishing a little flat.
MRP Rs 2,550 (Mumbai)

Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir
Clean and bright pale straw. Vibrant ripe fruit with a soft oaky edge showing some additional winemaking complexity. A juicy mouthful of soft flavour supported with bright acidity and a good length and depth of flavour.
MRP Rs 1,300

Zardetto Molin Extra Dry Prosecco DOCG
Bright light straw. Cheeky nose of bubblegum fruit and honeysuckle perfume. Vibrant flavour with fresh acidity and good weight and appeal. Very moorish!
Price N/A

Tattinger Brut
Bright pale straw with fine persistent bead. Soft brioche notes with subtle sweet white fruit and mealy overtones. Very elegant mouth of flavour and texture, showcasing a soft mousse supported by a backbone of vibrant acidity and wonderful overall finish.
MRP Rs 6,860

Bottega Prosecco Gold DOCG 
Pale straw in colour. The nose shows lifted white flowers and ripe stone fruit notes, off-set by a slight mineral edge. Nice weighted wine with good mid-palate texture and fine bead supported by crunchy acidity.
MRP Rs 1,800

Chandon Brut Nashik 
Pale straw. Fresh citrus notes with floral tones. Nice mouthful of flavour with medium weight and good acid lift.
MRP Rs 1,250

Lanson Black Label
Golden yellow. Developed tertiary fruit characters. Ripe and oily maderised nose showing an old wine and old world essence. Whilst obviously past its prime and showing what time in a bottle and poor storage in India can do to a wine, it still showed a beautiful personality, a wonderful mouth of flavour and vibrant almost youthful acidity – the most talked about wine of the tasting.
Price N/A

GH Mumm
Unfortunately, faulty probably of uncertain provenance.

See also  “Brown Gins?!” Seriously?

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