Vintage Pairs Events

Join us for our "Vintage Pairs" Blind Tasting on Wednesday 29 September 2021

In this blind tasting session, we select five wines, serve them blind and, as a group, work deductively through the tasting process to uncover the wine. The trick here is we actually serve ten wines – two wines with something in common, served in pairs.

1st Pair: 2002 Dom Perignon & Dom Perignon 'P2'

In Champagne, 2002 was one of those rare and remarkable historical moments, in which near-perfect growing conditions produced grapes of exemplary maturity and ripeness. Alongside 2008 and 2012, the champagnes from this vintage are generally regarded as the best this century.

The 2002 vintage shaped up ideally over the spring, with no significant frost and near-perfect flowering. Then followed a summer marked by long, sunny periods interspersed with regular cloudy and rainy spells. The vines were in good health and the dehydration of the grape berries helped them reach new heights of ripeness.

Dom Pérignon only produce vintage champagne and their winemaking team have long recognised the distinct life curves of each and every different vintage. As chef de cave, Vincent Chaperon describes, each vintage evolves in a “nonlinear fashion”, with periods of expression – ‘the Plénitudes’ – during which they reach a new dimension of quality.

The bottles destined for P2 had been aged under cork rather than crown cap from the beginning. “What we are interested in is the effect of oxidation and the use of time as a creative tool. P2 helps us to go higher and further,” Chaperon said. “Higher in intensity, further in time.”

Dom Pérignon 2002: 51% CH, 49% PN | Lees Ageing: 6 Years | Disgorged: 2009 | Dosage: 6 g/l
Dom Pérignon P2 2002: 51% CH, 49% PN | Lees Ageing: 15 Years | Disgorged: 2018 | Dosage: 8 g/l

 2nd Pair: 2018 Domaine Rossignol-Cornu - Pernand-Vergelesses & Meursault 'La Barre'  

This next pair is from the family of one of the newest additions to the Fine Wine Experience Team, Florian Rossignol. As most of you know, he hails from Volnay, and his family’s domaine is Rossignol Cornu et Fils. Several of you have asked about his family’s wines, so I thought it would be fun to add them in for you to try blind tonight.

2018 vintage for whites: sunny, hot and dry. After plentiful rain and a perfect flowering an exceptional quantity of grapes were picked pretty early after the long hot summer. They yielded a surprising amount of juice but, generally, no lack of concentration.

Whites from Pernand-Vergelesses (located on the hill facing Corton-Charlemagne) offer minerally wines with vibrant acidity. This wine is made from three different plots on the same steep slope. Florian’s brother uses a small amount of new oak (no more than 15%) for the wine as he wants the terroir to shine through. Under the radar appellation, mostly known for hosting the famous Grand Cru Corton-Charlemagne, definitely an area worth discovering.

For the Meursault ‘La Barre’, the production is really low. They only produce two barrels (570 bottles) in a good year, and aged them in 50% new oak, it is challenging to find the right oak treatment with such small quantity. The vineyard is composed of very old vines planted in the 50’s, as you can taste, the wine is rather concentrated, another challenge is to find the right balance especially in such hot vintage. Julien Rossignol chose not to do batonnage to keep the natural reduction that he finds interesting in his whites.

3rd Pair: 2015 Domaine Perrot-Minot - Vosne Romanee & Vosne Romanee 1er Cru 'Les Beaumonts'

One of the most fastidious winemakers in Burgundy today,  Christophe Perrot-Minot is a man with both the intellect and the ambition to set and then follow his own high standards. They are standards that today few, if any producer in Burgundy exceeds, and they apply to every step of the work in the vineyard, and the winery. And they are not frivolous – they are standards that you can smell, taste and feel when you drink a bottle of Domaine Perrot-Minot at any appellation level. The style is always immaculately clean and pure, with clear expression from the terroir. The tannins are always ripe and supple, with no sense of any excess, great equilibrium, and there is always a beautiful expression of fruitiness in the wine. It can make them tantalizingly pleasurable to drink young, and they age beautifully.

No fining, no filtration, and bottling by gravity are established practises in Domaine Perrot Minot. Village-level cuvées see around 25% new oak, 1ers Crus 40% and grands crus 50%. Wines are bottled without fining or filtration.

2015 vintage for reds: Low yields and warm weather allowed for ample ripeness, small berries and an early harvest. Quality is looking extremely fine, with some people whispering comparisons with the outstanding 2005 vintage. Acid levels in individual wines may be crucial.

Vosne Romanee 1er Cru 'Les Beaumonts':  the vines are 49 years old on average, planted on the upper section of the Beaux Monts with high proportion of limestone. The wines produced in this part of the Beaux Monts are fine, mineral with very silky and distinguished textures.

 4th Pair: 2016 Domaine Georges Vernay Côte-Rôtie ‘Blonde du Seigneur’ & Côte-Rôtie ‘Maison Rouge’ 
This domaine is most famous for its Condrieu. However, when daughter Christine took over after her father, Georges, retired in 1996, she started placing more emphasis on improving the reds. She wants elegance and finesse in her reds, so her practices in the vineyards and in the winery are with those goals in mind. In this pair, we are tasting the two Côte-Rôties from Domaine Georges Vernay: ‘Maison Rouge’ and ‘Blonde du Seigneur’.

The ‘Maison Rouge’ comes from a 2-hectare plot located at the southern part of the Côte-Rôtie appellation. The average age of the vines is 50 years old; they grow in sandy, granite soil on steep hillsides. This wine is 100% Syrah, and the fermentation takes place in oak vats. After fermentation, the wine goes into barrel, 30% of which are new, for 24 months. Approximately 8,000 bottles of this wine are made each year.

The ‘Blonde du Seigneur’ is a contrast to the ‘Maison Rouge’ and highlights the violet perfumed and more elegant side of Côte-Rôtie. The average age of the vines is 30 years old. For the winemaking, the grapes are fermented in stainless steel vats to preserve the delicate fruit aromas. They blend in 8% Viognier which is what gives the wine a sense of softness. Then, the wine is aged for a minimum of 18 months in barrel of which 25% of the barrels are new. Annual production is approximately 15,000 bottles per year.

2016 vintage: reduced yields due to hailstorm, though quality isn’t necessarily compromised. Indeed, there is a lot of enthusiasm for both reds and whites, despite some tricky weather throughout the year. Alcohol levels are in general slightly lower than in 2015.

5th Pair: 2003 Chateau Ausone & Chapelle d'Ausone

Located on a steep hillside, to the south of the village of Saint-Émilion, Château Ausone enjoys a prime location that stands out for three distinct points. Amongst all leading Bordeaux estates, it is the only vineyard located on a slope, and on top of limestone soil. Its vineyard size is also tiny in comparison to most: just 7 hectares of vineyards are distributed into small, stoned terraces to protect from the wind. They are southeast facing, giving generous sunlight for well-ripened grapes. While the norm on the Right Bank is to plant and to use Merlot as the major component in blending, Château Ausone has its own style as they include more Cabernet Franc in the blend. 55% of the vineyard is planted with Cabernet Franc, and 45% with Merlot. These vines are 50 years old on average, and during blending, the higher proportion of Cabernet Franc gives the final wine its structure, and adds a unique floral note which marks the remarkable fragrance of this wine.

Vineyard management is one of Alain Vauthier’s strengths. He introduced a new drainage system, and planted vines with a higher density to promote competition. This effort, together with early de-leafing and green harvesting, gave bunches of smaller grapes at a very low yield, so the flavours in each berry are fully concentrated. In 1997, Vauthier also introduced a second label - La Chapelle d'Ausone. This includes younger vines made under the same conditions as the first wine, so the first wine can be made exclusively from the fine berries from older vines.

2003 vintage for reds: 2003 was the hottest vintage ever witnessed in Bordeaux. The best-performing châteaux have surpassed their outstanding 2000s and some claim to have made their greatest wines in living memory. The Right Bank properties of St Emilion and Pomerol, where temperatures were even hotter, have produced uneven wines and volumes are massively reduced. Estates that bucked this pattern and produced outstanding wines include Figeac, Ausone, Fetyit Clinet and Angelus.

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