A Decadent Journey Through Iconic French Wines

I recently had the immense privilege of attending a truly unforgettable wine tasting event: “Iconic French Wines,” hosted by Master of Wine, Barbara Drew. This opulent soirée took place at the prestigious Berry Bros. and Rudd in London on the 7th of December, 2023. It was an evening dedicated to savoring and discovering the finest French wines, an opportunity to immerse myself in the splendor of France’s winemaking heritage.

The evening commenced with a gracious welcome, where a flute of 2012 Champagne Dom Pérignon awaited us, setting the tone for an evening of unparalleled decadence. The anticipation was palpable as we embarked on a journey through the heart of France’s most illustrious wine regions.

Here is a glimpse of the extraordinary wines we had the privilege of tasting, along with my own ratings:

(Aperitif) 2012 Champagne Dom Pérignon, Brut (Rating: 4.7/5)

The evening began with bubbles, and Dom Pérignon’s 2012 Brut Champagne did not disappoint. Its lively effervescence and complex notes of rich savoury flavours, orchard fruits, lemon, brioche and a touch of smoke were a fitting introduction to the grandeur that lay ahead.

2002 Champagne Louis Roederer, Cristal, Brut (2020 Late Release) (Rating: 5.0/5)

A true highlight of the evening was the 2002 Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal, a late release from 2020. This exceptional Champagne spent 8 years on lees and was nothing short of perfection, with its ethereal elegance, pristine acidity, and a harmonious blend of rich brioche, yeast, citrus, white flowers, and minerals. It was an unequivocal 5-star experience that left an indelible mark on my palate.

2019 Chablis, Montée de Tonnerre, 1er Cru, Domaine Raveneau, Burgundy (Rating: 4.9/5)

From Champagne, we ventured into Burgundy and the exquisite 2019 right bank Chablis Montée de Tonnerre from Domaine Raveneau. This Premier Cru Chablis dazzled with its purity, precision, and a palate adorned with flavors of orchard fruit, green apples, pear, citrus, tropical fruit and a distinctive mineral core. It was a testament to the finesse and terroir-driven elegance that Chablis is celebrated for.

2015 Riesling, Clos Ste Hune, Trimbach, Alsace (Rating: 4.6/5)

Alsace made its mark with the 2015 Riesling Clos Ste Hune from Trimbach. This wine displayed the grace and character for which Alsace Rieslings are celebrated, showcasing honeyed and nutty notes, petrol, stone fruit, tropical fruit, and a backbone of vibrant acidity. It was a captivating representation of the region’s rich winemaking tradition.

2014 Clos de Vougeot, Grand Cru, Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux, Burgundy (Rating: 5.0/5) – Truly Amazing!

For me, a true revelation of the evening was the 2014 Clos de Vougeot from Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux. This Grand Cru Burgundy was nothing short of extraordinary. It was super-perfumed, exuding an alluring blend of dark fruit, exotic spices, and a velvety texture that left a profound impression on me. It was unequivocally deserving of a perfect rating, a wine that embodied the artistry of Burgundian winemaking.

2010 Côte-Rôtie, Côte Brune, Domaine Jamet, Rhône (Rating: 4.7/5)

From the Rhône Valley, the 2010 Côte-Rôtie Côte Brune by Domaine Jamet offered a captivating glimpse into the Syrah’s power and finesse. This wine was a rich interplay of dark berries, violets, as well as meaty and smoky notes. It underscored the Rhône Valley’s ability to produce wines of depth and character.

2005 Château Lafite Rothschild, 1er Grand Cru Classé, Pauillac, Bordeaux (Rating: 4.9/5)

Bordeaux’s grandeur was on full display with the 2005 Château Lafite Rothschild, a Premier Grand Cru Classé from Pauillac. This wine exhibited the epitome of Pauillac’s finesse and structure, with layers of cassis, cedar, and silky tannins. It showcased the ageability and class of Bordeaux’s iconic estates.

2005 Château Angélus, 1er Grand Cru Classé ‘B’, St Emilion, Bordeaux (Rating: 4.7/5)

Château Angélus, a Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘B’ from St. Emilion, brought its own allure with the 2005 vintage. It offered a symphony of ripe red fruits, well-integrated oak, and a rich, velvety texture that epitomized the elegance of St. Emilion. It was a Bordeaux gem that showcased the finesse of Right Bank wines.

2001 Château d’Yquem, 1er Cru Supérieur, Sauternes, Bordeaux (Rating: 5.0/5)

The grand finale of the evening was the 2001 Château d’Yquem, a Premier Cru Supérieur from Sauternes. This legendary sweet wine from a legendary vintage was a masterpiece of balance, with luscious layers of honeyed apricot, citrus zest, and a never-ending finish. It was a perfect conclusion to an unforgettable evening, a testament to the enduring legacy of Bordeaux’s sweet wines.

The evening was a remarkable journey through the finest French wine regions and their most esteemed producers. It was a rare opportunity to savor both young and beautifully mature wines from France’s most prestigious appellations. The carefully curated selection, complemented by a chef’s board of salmon with caviar and duck breast with pate, allowed the wines to shine even brighter. This evening was, without a doubt, a truly decadent treat, reaffirming the unparalleled excellence of French winemaking which left an enduring memory of a night filled with remarkable wines and cherished moments.

Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

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