Domaine Chandon’s Prestige Cuvée from 1996 is a blend of 58% chardonnay and 42% pinot noir, has 6g/l of dosage, and spent a huge 15 years on lees before being disgorged. All the ingredients are therefore perhaps in existence for a rather special wine and something out of the ordinary for an Australian sparkling wine. Would this wine join the handful of Australian sparklings that take the qualitative “next step” to compete with Champagne? Certainly, at $89 a bottle, you would expect so. Unfortunately, this wine was a disappointment.
And it starts with some unusual aromatics. Ripe peaches, maybe a little overripe in expression, animal hair (but not brettanomyces), wet straw (reminding, strangely enough, of a well watered and aged straw mulch in a vegetable garden), thin white wafer biscuits and herbs all combine to somewhat perplexing effect. I don’t think I have previously used these descriptors in the same sentence, but here we are. On the palate, the expression is very lactic and even cheesy in taste. I am afraid that this sparkling wine did not appeal to me at all, and that disgorgement a few years earlier may have been merited. An interesting experiment though, if we can put to one side my view of the outcome. Acceptable