Champagne Masters 2014: The medalists

HIGH FLYERS

Judges-in-room

At the peak of Champagne’s price pyramid, prestige cuvées over £100 performed extremely well, although it was only Deutz’s Cuvée William Deutz 2002 that achieved the ultimate by gaining a Master. Such a result was both a sign of the quality winemaking from this house, but also the conditions of the vintage, with 2002 considered one of the standout harvests of the last decade.
Among the more niche categories of Champagne, as noted above, drier Champagne styles did well this year, suggesting that winemakers are becoming better at producing fizz with little added sugar – doubtless choosing riper, richer base wines to reduce the potential for tartness. Serge Mathieu, Drappier, Chassenay d’Arce, Jacquart and newcomer to the competition, Ployez Jacquemart were all awarded silver medals for the extra bruts.

Then there was the blanc de blancs category which this year in particular drew attention to the quality of pure Chardonnay Champagnes. While Palmer was the only wine to be awarded a gold for Blanc de Blancs under £40, over that price point and no less than four golds were given – 50% of the wines judged at this more expensive level. As one judge said, “This does prove that you do have to spend quite a bit on blanc de blancs, but when you do, you are rewarded.”

We also had a good showing from blanc de noirs in 2014. Both Cattier and Comte Audoin de Dampierre impressed the judges with this style, and each of these houses gained golds. As judge Michael Edwards said of the wines, “These are wonderful winter Champagnes”, while fellow judge Anthony Foster MW said, “These are food Champagnes.”

Judges-in-room-2As in previous competitions, the vintage category attracted high levels of praise from the judges and plenty of high scores, while unlike last year, rosé achieved a clutch of golds. Particularly delicious examples of the latter came from Henriot, Deutz and Lanson.

Overall, the blind tasting drew attention to those houses producing cuvées of exceptional quality, while showing the high standard of wines being made in Champagne today. It also proved that the fashionable pink and very dry styles of Champagne have undergone a marked quality improvement. For value and quality, however, the results suggest that the region’s biggest category, Brut NV, is hard to beat.

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