Monday, January 30, 2012

Ben's Bubbly: Perrier-Jouët

Last week was rough; Ben came down with a fever at school and got sent home. I hung out with him the next day since he couldn't go back for 24 hours. I rearranged my scheduled (and by rearrange I mean I stayed home and attended a meeting that I had via Google+ Hangout) to care for the ill one. He took a super long nap that coincided perfectly with my work meeting. One side effect of his long morning naps (he's had a few this week when he's been home with me) is that he doesn't take an afternoon nap. I enjoy the extra time hanging out with him, but I think I am really going to miss the extra afternoon hours of being able to get work done. C'est la vie.

Champagne Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut

Back to Champagne we go this week. When people talk about how rare Champagne is, they don't know what they're talking about. Perrier-Jouët is a large négociant from Épernay that produces twice as much wine annually as the entire state of Colorado. So, this one winery is twice as big as one hundred Colorado wineries put together. Think about that. Most Champagne is produced in this industrial fashion, and to Terry Theise, I'm surprised it is as good as it is being an industrial product. I have nothing against Perrier-Jouët, they make perfectly palatable wine. Their Belle Epoque (often called the flower bottle) is highly sought by Champagne aficionados. The Grand Brut is their basic non-vintage cuvée. The label is imprinted with the flowers of its more famous relative and is quite eye catching. The first thing I notice on the nose is loads of red fruit. Apples, raspberries and even strawberries  intrigue even before the first sip. Once you get the glass to your mouth, the acidity slaps you back in your seat. The yeasty flavors are more apparent on the palate, but the fruit is still there. Who ever says Champagne isn't a food wine is also wrong. This wine needs food to help tone down the almost too tart acids. You won't spend a lot of time contemplating this wine, but it was a nice accompaniment to dinner. 12% abv Purchased $26 Good

Friday, January 27, 2012

Who says Colorado doesn't produce some of the world's best wine?

Colorado makes some damn good wine. However, one of the biggest issues many people have with Colorado wine is the word "Colorado" on the label. Sure, some of the fun of drinking certain wines is what is on the label, but if you eliminate preconceived notions about the region by hiding the label, I am quite confident that Colorado's best wines can compete with the world's best wines. I've done it time and time again. And I will continue to do so to prove my point. However, even the blind tasting I am sharing with you now surprised me.

A few months ago, my tasting group decided on 2003 Bordeaux as our next theme. Bordeaux produces perhaps the best known and most sought after wines (both red and white) in the world. Bordeaux is a large and complex region, but to simplify things, it is often thought of in two terms: the Left Bank and the Right Bank. The banks refer to the side of the Gironde estuary (where the Garonne and Dordogne rivers merge) on which the vineyards lie. Wines from the Right Bank are generally velvety merlot-based wines. The Left Bank wines are made mostly from cabernet sauvignon and considered by many to be more structured, long aged and generally more prestigious. They are so highly regarded that in 1855, the merchants of Bordeaux classified the châteaux of the Left Bank into a five tier hierarchy based on quality and price that remains little changed to this day. At the top are the First Growths that command hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per bottle. A total of only 61 Bordeaux châteaux of nearly 10,000 are now a part of this classification. These classified Bordeaux châteaux are the yardstick by which all other cabernet sauvignon are measured. I thought that this would be a great opportunity to see how Colorado wine at its best compares with the top wines in the world.

The lineup did not include any of the super expensive First Growths, but it did have some pretty big names from the Left Bank (and the vintage wasn't too shabby either). Everyone gathered at our new house and brown bagged 7 bottles of classified Bordeaux, plus a few ringers to keep us honest. No one knew all of the wines in the lineup, but we knew many of the names that were hidden from view. Paired with a top sirloin steak and a round eye roast, we had a grand time tasting through the flight. Only one bottle disappointed (and even that was contentious, but more on that later), and a few surprised when the labels were revealed. After the Bordeaux flight, a generous guest opened two other big red gems and then we sipped on a variety of dessert wines. Overall, it was quite a night!

The Bordeaux-themed flight included ten wines ranging in price from $30-$300 and were from Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Washington and, of course, Colorado. The tasting notes are mine, and I will note my ranking of the wines as well as the group's.

Wine 1: This shows a little bit of volatile acidity and is a bit funky. Some nice cigar box and cherries are on the nose. Flavors of sour cherry and green olive are most prominent, but overall this one is rather light and fades quickly. My least favorite if you don't count the corked bottle. Average

Wine 2: This is a big wine. Lots of dark fruit, cassis, and tobacco. Nice, but does not stand out as special. Good/Very Good

Wine 3: Another big wine. Red fruit and leather on the nose lead to molasses, spices, dark fruits and smooth tannins on the palate. This is a thick and aggressive wine that is probably still young. Very Good/Excellent

Wine 4: Wow. Loads of fruit on both the nose and mouth. This thing is complex. Fruit, violets and vanilla keep lingering on the long finish. This was the first wine I went back to revisit. My wine of the night. Excellent/Outstanding

Wine 5: Another lovely wine. This is the first to be a bit green and have a slightly metallic nose, but the smooth tannins, typical cab flavors of currant and tobacco and exceptionally long finish make this one to remember. Not as fruity as the others, but still a typical Bordeaux. My number two of the night. Excellent

Wine 6: This wine is full of pepper and smoke. It is a lot lighter on the palate than the others. Unfortunately, it falls apart in the mouth way too quickly. Good

Wine 7: Back to the good stuff. Lots of red and black fruits are on both the nose and palate, but this is the first to show nice herbs of sage and tea. It goes down very smooth. Not too complex, but a very nice wine. My third choice of the night. Very Good/Excellent

Wine 8: The first thing I notice is the alcohol. It tastes very New World; like a buttery blackberry liqueur. Decent, but a bit too much for me at this point. Good/Very Good

Wine 9: Corked. Offensive nose and TCA is the first thing that comes to mind for me. The group had a discussion and several people were adamant that it wasn't corked, just a bit bretty. It tastes better than it smells, but still shows only earth, leather, mushrooms and no fruit. My least favorite, but I still stand by my assessment of it being corked. NR

Wine 10: This is a big fruity lollipop. It is thin, simple and slightly metallic, but fun to drink. Nothing special. Good

Top Wines of the Night as voted by the group:
#1: Wine 5 (5 first place votes, 1 second)
#2: Wine 4 (3 first place votes, 1 second, 1 third)
#3: Wine 3 (1 first place vote, 3 third)

Find out the identities after the jump...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ben's Bubbly: Triebaumer Muscato

I was out of town all last week, so I've gotten a bit behind in posting. Aside from not writing, I was away from Ben for a full week. It sure is fun walking in the door after being away and seeing his little face light up as I pick him up. Needless to say, he seemed happy with my return and didn't want me to put him down for quite some time. The new thing he picked up while I was gone is throwing his food. We give him Cheerios to snack on pre- and post-meal time and while he used to gobble them up, he now likes to see how far they will travel through the air. It is at this point in his life I wish we had a dog to clean up after him; the cats couldn't care less about food on the floor, even when it is theirs. Even as I type this and glance down, I see a cheerio on the floor below his highchair.

Weingut Günter & Regina Triebaumer Muscato

While most sparkling wine from Germany and Austria is called Sekt, this bubbly is actually Perlwein. Perlwein (mild sparkling wine) is the legal name for a sparkling wine which has a residual sugar of more than 5% and an alcoholic content of less than 9% abv. This is my first taste of Austrian muscato, and though I don't dislike it, I prefer the real stuff from Moscato d'Asti. This wine is a bit simple and linear compared to its Italian brethren. Gold in color, it smells sweet and simple. It tastes like candy. Its thick and creamy texture gives way to copious amounts of mango and pineapple flavors and not much else. If you're looking for something simple and sweet to gulp, this might be right up your alley. 7% abv Purchased $15. Average

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Colorado's Wine Industry Enters a Higher State at The Wine Cellar Insider

A few weeks ago, I was approached by Jeff Leve of The Wine Cellar Insider to write a story about Colorado's burgeoning wine industry. Jeff's focus is on reviewing Bordeaux, though he does dabble in Rhône and California wines. The Wine Cellar Insider also publishes outside material about wine to give other wine regions more coverage. While I was not paid as a contributor, I thought that this was a good opportunity to promote the wonderful wines of our state (and perhaps myself a bit...). Below is a tease of the article:

Colorado has a long history in the wine industry. Grapevines were first planted in Colorado in the late 1800s. The industry was growing steadily until 1916. That was the year the Colorado General Assembly passed a state prohibition law. Things went from bad to worse. Even with the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933, it took until 1968 for Colorado’s first modern commercial winery to open in Denver, Ivanice Winery.

Ivanice Winery initially used grapes bought from California to make wine. With time, founder Gerald Ivancie convinced growers in the Grand Valley around the towns of Grand Junction and Palisade to plant their own grape vines. Ivancie Winery closed their doors in 1974. They are looked back on as the catalyst behind the modern Colorado wine industry.

Continue reading here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The fallacy of the 100-point system revealed

Yesterday, Steve Heimoff assessed the current state of the 2010 California pinot noirs on his blog. Steve said of the 110 or so pinot noirs that he had tasted the scores ranged from 94 "all the way down to a miserable 80." I don't know about you, but to me (and to Steve's employer) a score in the low 80s (80-82) indicates that a wine is an acceptable wine, especially "in casual, less-critical circumstances." I don't consider an 80 a great score, but I wouldn't consider it miserable. Steve's statement reflects what I would consider the core of the score inflation problem. Grade inflation does not mean all scores are going up (as Blake Gray et al. suggest), just that the meaning of scores has changed. In the not so distant past, a grade of a "C" in college was considered an “average” grade. Now, many students believe it means outright failure. I teach at a local university and see this with my students. Every student thinks that they are an "A" student, but in reality few are. I suppose the same is true with wineries. They all think that they produce 90+ point wines, but few actually do. There is nothing wrong with making average wine, but apparently Steve Heimoff thinks that there is. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of the problem.

When I commented on the post, Steve replied: " I would not use the word “miserable” in a formal review. But let’s face it, an 80 is interpreted as miserable by just about everyone. So when I comment on my own scores, I can be more descriptive, especially if I don’t identify the wine in question, which I would never do out of respect." So, is Wine Enthusiast’s rating scale a joke because when they rate a wine as acceptable, the editors actually believe it is "miserable?" On the surface, an 80 may seem like an average score, but if the critic doesn't actually believe that an 80-point wine is acceptable, then what is the score really worth.

I understand that Steve probably meant that a score of 80 will not be welcomed by most wineries as being helpful, and he is probably correct. But, if Steve takes wineries' feelings into consideration when he reviews wine how are we supposed to believe what he writes? Steve will apparently write psuedo-nice things about a wine out of respect, but when he doesn't have to identify the wine he can let everyone know that he really thinks it is miserable. This is not really breaking news and most people know that ratings are just a big game wine pundits play, but I’m kind of surprised to hear Steve Heimoff actually admit to the fallacy of the 100-point system. Bravo, Mr. Heimoff!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Meet the Winemaker: Jenne Baldwin-Eaton (Plum Creek Winery)

Jenne Baldwin-Eaton
The modern Colorado wine industry is still relatively young, especially when compared to the likes of California. Twenty years ago, only five wineries were licensed in Colorado, but they had the foresight to encourage the Colorado General Assembly to create the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board (full disclosure - I am employed part-time by the CWIDB). Founded by Doug and Sue Phillips (sadly, Doug is no longer with us), Plum Creek Winery, in Palisade, was one of these pioneering wineries and has a been a leader in the industry ever since. In fact, Sue currently is a board member on the CWIDB. While neither Doug or Sue were winemakers, they have been able to employ some very talented people to produce excellent wine. I enjoy Plum Creek's wines so much that I have put them in lineups containing more exalted wines to be tasted blind. The 'lowly' Colorado wine, of course, was preferred over the other wines in the tasting. I always find it amazing that regional wines are still under appreciated, especially when these results happen time after time. As regional wineries grow and are able to employ winemakers like Plum Creek's Jenne Baldwin-Eaton I predict they will garner more of the respect they deserve. With that, please enjoy our interview with Jenne.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ben's Bubbly: J Vineyards & Winery, Cuvée 20

I know with living in Colorado I shouldn't say this, but I am glad that Tebow-mania will finally come to a rest (at least until July). The Broncos had a good run, but all this focus on Tebow as the Broncos' savior was really annoying. Even more annoying is the fact that my team (Green Bay Packers) lost as well and will not be repeating as Super Bowl champions. By the time the next season starts, Ben will probably have outgrown all of his Packers clothes. He had a pretty uneventful week, though the poor sleeping returned. We'll be moving into our new house soon, so he'll have his very own bedroom and we're looking forward to that!

He is starting to really recognize words and understand some of the things we say. He is fascinated by ceiling fans and every time we say the word "fan," he immediately looks up to find one. He thinks it is quite funny when we look up at the fan, too, and say, "Whoosh, whoosh" as we move our heads around in a circle. This usually elicits a hearty laugh. Ben also knows the word "foot." When we put his pants on him and leave just his toes hanging out the foot hole, if we ask him were his foot is, he reaches down and grabs his little feet. Even before he started moving around upright, I had come to the realization that this little person would be able to walk, but I still am having trouble comprehending that very soon, too, he will be able to communicate his very own thoughts and ideas with words.

 J Vineyards & Winery, Cuvée 20

The first glass of wine my wife had when she was pregnant was a bottle of J sparkling wine. We've had several since and are always pleased with the wine. This 25th anniversary label was no different, especially more so since the last two (a Champagne and a California sparkler) have been only so-so. The sexy labeling (few reviews discuss labeling, but that is often a major determinant of consumer choice so I think I will start mentioning the packaging), gives way to a pretty yellow bubbly wine. Apples and stone fruit dominate on the nose. Apricots, apples and a bit of toast tempt you as you swirl your glass. The first thing that comes to mind when I taste it is Fuji apple and pear marmalade on sourdough toast. The acid is well integrated and not overpowering as a few recent bubblies have been. Overall, this is a smooth and balanced wine that goes down quite easily. The Cuvée 20 might not wow you, but it will not disappoint. 12.5% abv Sample $24. Good/Very Good

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Colorado winemakers can learn something from ... Iowa!?!?!

One of the challenges that Colorado grape growers and vintners face is the limited number of acres that can grow the traditional Vitis vinifera wine grapes. For the most part, this acreage is limited to the Grand Valley area. Sure, the West Elks AVA grows vinifera, but the crop is not reliable nor is the vineyard area vast. There is some potential with land in the Four Corners area, but again, a few hundred acres is not going to do anything to meet demand when consumers finally realize that Colorado can produce excellent wines. The odd vinifera vineyards in the Front Range are nothing more than anomalies. There might be a few small pockets of hidden terroir that could grow off the beaten path vinifera, but let's not hold our breath for this development.

If Colorado is to really grow its wine industry, winemakers and growers really need to look to non-traditional regions. They need to look to ... Iowa! Now, don't get me wrong, I think that Colorado's wine industry is light years ahead of Iowa's and will always remain so. However, Iowa doesn't have the good fortune to be able to produce the traditional grape varieties that American wine consumers have come to know, love and expect. As I wrote about this summer, I made a few winery stops on our drive to and from Wisconsin. In Iowa, we stopped at Breezy Hills Vineyards and sampled a few of their wines. They produce only locally grown cool-climate grapes and proudly proclaim that you won't find any vinifera in their area. Now, there is a reason why hybrids aren't well know; they tend to produce inferior wines when compared to the traditional grapes. And while that statement is generally true, it does not mean that hybrids cannot occasionally produce outstanding wines. We tasted through about ten different wines before we got a quick tour of the winemaking facilities (would put some CO wineries to shame, btw). There were a few that were decent, but only two were worth spending some cash on. We lugged one bottle of vignoles and one bottle of frontenac rosé back to Colorado along with a few bottles from Wisconsin and Nebraska.

Over the past few months, we've opened each of the Iowan wines and shared them with friends. After drinking both of these bottles, all I can say is that Colorado better start growing these grapes and making wine this good. I still think that Vitis vinifera offer the greatest ability to produce premium, world-class wines, but if Colorado wants to start competing with the rest of the world on a volume basis, hybrids are the only answer. And if we grow the right hybrids, they can be made into some kick ass wine. I'm pretty sure that Breezy Hills Vineyards does not ship to Colorado, but if you are able to get your hands on their wines, do yourself a favor and jump on the chance. I actually called my parents as they drove out to Colorado for the holidays and asked them to stop and get a few more bottles for me, but alas they had already driven past Minden, IA. I know I'll eventually drive by again and you can be assured I will definitely stock up.

Breezy Hills Vineyards, Vignoles

This wine has no vintage date because it was labeled with an "American" appellation, but don't confuse this with plonk. Sadly, the United States federal government bans vintages from appearing on the label of wines with only a country appellation of origin, but this practice might come to an end soon. I poured this wine blind to a group of winemakers and industry professionals. When I asked them to guess what it was answers ranged from German auslese to New Zealand riesling and even New York vidal. Everyone was quite surprised to see the label proclaim, Iowa! This is definitely a sweet dessert wine with a golden yellow color. Flowers and pineapple dominate the explosive nose. Tropical fruits, citrus, and mineral flavors will have you thinking it is perhaps a riesling or vidal blanc from more prestigious region than Iowa! While there were some nice stone fruit and mineral flavors, the pineapple flavor is most recognizable. The sweetness and acidity were nicely balanced, though the sugar is quite noticeable and it could have been a touch drier for my taste. You're not going to confuse this with Château d'Yquem, but this is a fun, sweet wine that will impress even the most discerning of palates. 12% abv Purchased $12. Very Good

Breezy Hills Vineyards, Frontenac Rosé

I opened this bottle with a group of friends that I am working with to start a small urban vineyard in Arvada, CO. As I said above, Vitis vinifera won't grow well along the Front Range, so we are planning on planting a handful of hybrids and frontenac (along with vignoles) are going to be a major component of the vineyard (we're starting small with only a few rows). Since hybrids are hard to come by in retail stores, I wanted to provide an example of what this grapes can do. Just as with the vignoles, this wine impressed. The color is a beautiful, brilliant pink and it smells awesome. Both the nose and the palate is chock-full with cherry blossoms and cranberries. This rosé is almost bone dry, but the amazing fruit forwardness can fool you into thinking there is more residual sugar. I would take this rosé over a white zinfandel or white merlot any day of the week. In fact, this was perhaps one of the best rosés I've ever had. It is perfect for a summer day outside or a winter evening by the fire. If you served this blind to even the most hard core of wine traditionalists, I think that you might get a smile from them and then a dropping jaw after they read the label.12% abv Purchased $12. Very Good

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Meet the Winemaker: Theresa High (Colterris)

Theresa High
A little over a year ago, I wrote about Colterris. At that time, Colterris was a custom cabernet sauvignon made by Two Rivers Winery for High Country Vineyards and Orchards proprietor, Theresa High. A lot can change in a year. Colterris is still (for now) made at Two Rivers, but Colterris has its own winery license and has expanded (will continue to expand) its family of wines. Currently on the market, you will be able to find both a cabernet sauvignon and a cabernet franc. Theresa has taken on more responsibilities as winemaker and will release a petit verdot and Meritage blend in the near future. Colterris is one of the most widely distributed Colorado wines in the state (a testament to its quality, but also helped by Theresa's husband owning a wine distribution company), so grab a bottle (or two) and get to know the woman behind this popular and tasty wine brand!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ben's Bubbly: Mumm Napa 2006 Blanc de Blancs

Wow. What a game last night. I'm not a Broncos fan, but this year certainly has been an exciting season for football fans in Denver. I'm hoping to raise little Ben as a Packers fan, but if he also wants to cheer for the Broncos, I guess I'll let him. Currently, though, his interest lies with our humidifier. Anytime he sees it, he makes a beeline straight for it. He loves how the buttons glow either blue or red when it is on, and he has figured out how to get it to turn on (sometimes by using his finger to press the button, but when that fails he just starts smacking the general area with his whole hand). The unit itself if about as tall as the little guy, so he has to stand on his tiptoes to get his mouth to the vapor, which in and of itself is adorable. Usually he turns to look at us with a face full of condensation. Again, quite cute. Unfortunately, all of his leaning and pulling on it has caused it to start to leak. This just means he can't be left unattended with it (as with most things...). I'm hoping that he'll take a break from the humidifier next weekend and watch both the Broncos' and Packers' games with me. He'll definitely being sporting a green and gold outfit! Maybe in few weeks the Packers can exact revenge for Super Bowl XXXII.

2006 Mumm Napa Blanc de Blancs

A few years ago, we spent a lovely afternoon on the patio at Mumm Napa. As I worked in the industry, I was lucky enough to get to try most of their lineup. I was quite impressed with many of their wines. However, I remember enjoying the blanc de blancs a little bit more then. Perhaps it was a different vintage; I don't remember. The 2006 pours a very pale yellow color and offers a subtle nose of lemons, limes and white flowers. The palate definitely packs a punch that is not suggested on the nose and it tastes like a laserbeam of acidity. Now, I like acid, but this thing was Warheads tart. Behind the excessive tartness there were pleasant flavors of sea shells, salt, and tart lemons and apples. The finish was a bit short and the wine was, overall, a bit too tart; not terrible, but just not balanced right now. Maybe with time it will mellow. 12.5% abv Purchased $14. Average

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Meet the Winemaker: Marcel and Julie Flukiger (Aspen Peak Cellars)

Julie and Marcel Flukiger
Most people in Colorado have never heard of this micro-winery, bistro and bed and breakfast nestled in the foothills west of Denver. You might have seen Aspen Peak Cellars mentioned in the news this past summer. Unfortunately, it was because their 135-yr old barn burned down due to a lightning strike. However, Marcel and Julie Flukiger have not let this catastrophe deter them from doing what they love. In fact, they have a new tasting facility opening in a few weeks!

Originally from Switzerland, Marcel met Julie almost twenty years ago while they both worked at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver as chefs. Fast forward to 2009, and Aspen Peak Cellars at the Clifton House was born. Thank you, Marcel and Julie for being a part of our "Meet the Winemaker" interview series!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ben's Bubbly: Taittinger Brut La Francaise

Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a great holiday break and is ready for an even better 2012. What an eventful week it was for us. My family drove out from Wisconsin with two terriers, we had four different Christmases to attend and Ben took his first steps! Ben had fun hanging out with his grandma, grandpa, aunt and uncle and they seemed to enjoy him, too. :) He had been cruising around on furniture for a few weeks, but hadn't taken off the training wheels. He actually startled himself when he realized he wasn't hanging on to anything and tried to get to mommy by taking a few steps as he fell. He has only done it a few times, but occasionally I'll turn around to see him just standing on his own for a few moments before he sits (or falls) down. He is getting braver by purposefully letting go of our hands or the furniture, but we predict it will only be a matter of time before he realizes that he has the upper hand in our relationship.

One thing that didn't freak him out this past week was the dogs. He quite enjoyed them and usually screeched whenever a dog came into sight. He really enjoyed it when (on two separate occasions) a dog would so helpfully clean the crusty (and not so crusty) boogers off his face. We'll see how long it takes until his cute adorable face is able to convince mommy that he wants a dog.

In a pretty big first for our little family, New Year's Eve was the first time that mommy and daddy both spent away from the little guy. I've been away for work a few times and mom escaped to Vegas a few months ago (man, that seems like ages ago). Grandma (the local one) stayed over at our place while we went out to dinner and then to our new place (oh, yeah, we also bought a new house a few weeks ago, but have been doing some remodeling before we move). We sipped on a bottle of Taittinger and were asleep by 12:05. We did, however, get seven blissful hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Taittinger "La Française" Brut

A big name in the the world of Champagne, best known for their Comtes de Champagne blanc de blancs, the La Française (also known as Brut Réserve) is the basic entry-level non-vintage blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier for Taittinger. Normally around $45-50, I picked this up on sale for under $30 a few weeks ago. It never ceases to amaze me how much these mass produced Champagne cost just because the word "Champagne" is on the label, especially when there are plenty of quality sparkling wines on shelves for under $30. Sure, top Champagne are worth their weight in gold, but not the basic stuff and this bottle did nothing to change my mind. Don't get me wrong, it is a nice bottle of wine and worth its sale price, but not the regular price. Lots on the nose here, especially baked pear and toast. It kind of tricks you into thinking it is going to be smooth and complex, but then smacks you on the other cheek with loads of acidic and slightly bitter yellow grapefruit. There might have been a little bit of lemon pastry in there too, but it was hard to tell (it was NYE after all) with the in your face grapefruit. I do give Taittinger credit for the abundant acidity, which too many sparkling wines shy away from, but I was expecting a bit more complexity and length. 12% abv Purchased $27. Good