Moet Chandon proved a difficult start, since we could not at first work our way into the building! When eventually we were sat down in the boardroom, we launched into the short daily test before moving onto the lecture, this time on vineyards and harvest. And the reward at the end of our hard work? A trip round the house with Stanislas de Roccoforte de Vinniere, a member of the Moet family despite the name(!), then a tasting of:
2002 Moet & Chandon
Lots of citrus and bruised apple though the palate shows more development with apple crumble and custard notes and a long creamy fresh finish.
2002 Moet & Chandon Rosé
Almost red in colour, quiet nose but palate is round, red fruits with strawberries, cranberries, redcurrants and becomes fresher in the glass the longer you leave it.
We sauntered down the road to join the extremely personable Hubert, owner and current manager of Pol Roger, for lunch and a few glasses of:
NV Pol Roger from Magnum
Rich, long, you could easily mistake this for a vintage champagne there is so much going on, a solid winner every time in my opinion.
2004 Pol Roger Rosé
Almost malty nose on this deep pink wine, redcurrants and although there is maturity and depth it finishes cleanly.
NV Pol Roger Extra Brut Pure
Rarely seen in UK as only released in 2008, it is all citrus and almond with higher acidity than others in range, granny apples, nice for style but I’ll stick with the complexity of Brut.
This was a lovely break before we hit the cellars, a gleaming all steel and tiles affair that was the most modern winery of the trip, with new techniques such as double racking being used and they even had a lift, which made a change from narrow spiral staircases. We then headed back to the tasting room for another small tasting:
2000 Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs
More subtle than expected but sticks to house style of bread, floats effortlessly along the palate with clean grapefruit on the finish.
2002 Pol Roger
Quiet nose makes the rich, long and complex palate more surprising, bruised apple and fresh bread forming but I think this is too young to open.
1999 Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill
So much going on here, ripe berries and despite high Pinot Noir in blend the structure is more Blanc de Blancs, so young! Smooth, everything in perfect balance, apples and crème brulee.
And so onto Laurent Perrier for the evening. This was a very relaxed affair (as Wednesday’s exam results showed) but we partook in the obligatory cellar tour despite the high heels (for the girls) and Nicole was simply a fabulous host. We then enjoyed another evening with the French doors thrown open and a simple but fabulous line up of Parma ham, parmesan, oysters, sea bass tartare, truffle risotto and finishing with strawberries and macaroons accompanied by:
NV Laurent Perrier Brut from Magnum
Floral nose but not lacking power, rich apple and ripe lemon develops into yellow plums and some tropical fruit, clean and fresh.
2002 Laurent Perrier
Very very fresh for a 2002 vintage! Full, complex, long.
NV Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut
Clean but not searingly acidic, has better balance than many other zero dosage
Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle
Nose starts with a mineral streak then develops almond and honey flavours. Almost sherbety palate, fresh though and tropical fruit develops. Full, elegant but not as long as actual vintages.
1998 Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle Rosé Cuvée Alexandra
Lovely sunset colour and subtle vanilla cream nose, hints of sherry and definitely moving to tertiary truffle and sous bois. Depth, age, complexity, length – great.
NV Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rosé
Clean nose and fresh, unripe red fruits. Sharp finish.