Dwayne Perreault − There were plenty of corks popping, and that is always a happy sound. Proef Champagne en Sprankelend (Taste Champagne and Sparkling), Holland's largest sparkling wine trade show, took place at the Mövenpick Hotel in Amsterdam on November 22nd. This event used to be called "Champagne aan Zee" and indeed used to be held on the beach at Noordwijk. The reason for moving it indoors is unknown to me, but given that Dutch weather is unpredictable at best, plus a windy, sand-strewn beach is not the best venue to seriously taste wines, it seemed like a logical decision.
The event was held in two large rooms: one for champagnes and one for other sparkling wines. To say it was busy would be an understatement: at every table a large group was gathered, champagne glasses in hand, eagerly waiting to be served.
I managed to taste about 40 different wines; here are some of my impressions, starting with the sparkling non-champagnes: the Ferrari Spumante Maximum Brut, Chardonnay (imported by Vinites) was my favourite in this category. Soft and elegant with good persistent fruit and healthy acidity, this was actually better than certain champagnes I tasted. The cava Giro Ribot Tendencias, Brut Extra 2008 (imported by Cava.nl) is very creamy with spicy notes of cinnamon and the lesser acidity cava is known for. The biggest surprise here was the Deutscher Sekt Weingut Am Stein, Silvaner 'Winzer Sekt' Brut 2006 De Wijntherapeut), with notes of pepper and spice above a bed of apples, with a very light sweetness in the aftertaste.
As for champagnes, it seemed to me that Taittinger (imported by Oud Reuchlin & Boelen) simply blew the competition away. The Prélude Grand Cru Brut has flinty gunsmoke in the nose with beautiful autolysis, bread and yeast notes with a chalky, mineral undertone. The Comtes de Champagne Rosé 2004 is sublime. Priced at €260 per bottle, it has a beautiful salmon-pink colour and is very soft and full in the mouth with lower acidity and a delicious hint of red fruit, a rosé champagne with real character. A special mention goes to the Gosset Grande Réserve (imported by Résidence Wijnen), showing some autolysis and a very clean and strong attack, with great mineral character.
There were of course many other great wines to try; there simply isn't enough room to include them here. The following is a list of the winners, chosen in a blind tasting by the Perswijn panel:
Winners Sparkling Wine
1. Ferrari, Giulio Ferrari 1999, Trento (
2. Codorníu Reserva, Reina Cristina 2006, Cava (
Intercaves/Vos & Partners)
3. Bellavista, Satèn, Chardonnay, Franciacorta (
Winners Rosé Champagne
1. Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne 2004 (
Oud Reuchlin & Boelen
2. Bollinger (Verlinden)
3. Laurent Perrier (
Winners Millésimé Champagne
1. Charles Heidsieck, Blanc des Millenaires, Chardonnay 1995 (Goessens
2/3. Bollinger, La Grande Année 2000 (
2/3. Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne 1998, Blanc de blancs (
Oud Reuchlin & Boelen)