Champagne and Sparkling Wine Taste Test – Just in time for New Year’s Eve

champagne_glassesJust in time for New Year’s Eve, here are our tasting notes from a side-by-side comparison of four popular sparkling wines and champagnes. The four wines that we tasted were all non-vintage, moderately priced, and readily available.  Amy and I tasted Piper Heidsieck Brut Champagne, Mumm Napa Cuvee, Mumm Napa Brut Protoge and Chandon Brut Classic.

First up is the Piper Heidsieck Brut Champagne. This was my second favorite, and Amy’s third favorite. Here are our notes:

Joe: Fine bubbles and lots of toast on the nose. The flavors are toast, apple and pear. Very crisp and dry straw-colored wine.
Amy: Burnt chemical and wet straw nose.

Then we tried the Mumm Napa Cuvee. This was the only one that we agreed on with both of us rating it as our favorite of the bunch.

Joe: Lots of extra fine bubbles. Apricot on the nose with flavors of asian pear and peach. Not quite as dry as either the other Mumm or the Piper, with a hint of sweetness and a slight pink color.
Amy: Pinkish color, smooth with a hint of sweetness.

Next up was the Mumm Napa Brut Protoge. This was my least favorite and Amy’s second favorite.

Joe: Very fine bubbles with a nose of gum eraser, rose, and a little toast. The taste is a very dry combination of toast and apple. Almost no color and too dry with very little flavor. Was much better with food.
Amy: Almost clear, very pale color. Cleaner, less flavor but lots of toast.

Last up was the Chandon Classic Brut. This was my number three, and Amy’s least favorite.

Joe: Lots of bubbles. Nose had notes of wet toast and rotten fruit. Nice acidity, with classic toast, apple and pear flavors. Has a light straw color. The fact that it went well with food made up for the strange nose.
Amy: Straw colored with an over-ripe fruit smell and taste.

We had a lot of fun, as you can imagine, tasting four different sparklers and Champagnes at one sitting. I highly recommend giving it a shot sometime. The food we had along with the wine was toast and blue cheese. For this tasting we used the bottles that are even smaller than splits. The Mumm used typical Champagne corks while both the Chandon and Piper has screw tops under tops that looked like corks. My guess is that may account for some of the off-tastes and aromas in them.

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