For the past eight years, I and my tasting group have been doing in Champagne Club a large thematic evaluation of a specific segment in the champagne jungle. This year we put the claws in the brilliant trilogy of 2008, 2009 and 2010. Historically, trilogies with subsequent top vintages are rare as solar eclipses in Champagne. The first real quality trio to talk about was 1981, 1982 and 1983 and only the trio 1988, 89 and 90 are world class. Due to the warmer climate, really weak vintages are becoming increasingly rare and three good vintages in a row are coming more and more often. 2002, 2003 and 2004, for example, are a brilliant trio. In 2008, everyone agrees that we have a really great vintage. 2009 is also a really delicious, early accessible treat, while 2010 was initially considered ordinary.
After a few years on the market, I felt that it was time to set them against each other as my gut feeling was that some ’08s did not really deliver and were in a dubious phase, while ’09 kept what they promised and ’10 recently had a sensational positive development curve. ’08 shows clear similarities with ’96 where the magnitude comes from a high number of hours of sunshine without extreme heat, which gives high phenolic maturity while the acid is also significantly high. An extreme range between these extremes is exactly what made ’28 and ’96 two of history’s largest vintages. It is not really that extreme in ’08. There is a greater softness and availability that tightens in ’02. At the same time, there are the same slightly oxidative traits of overripe grapes in some grower champagnes that have been found in both ’96 and ’90. Fortunately, this is only a transient phase. where the slightly fall-fruit-like character dries up with time and rises to new heights. Just look at how majestic many of the previously doomed 90s are right now.