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Simon Field MW - To the power of Twelve…..

Simon applauds a terrific Champagne Vintage…

Congratulations to Rebecca for launching her website, quite a while in the offing and well worth the wait. With two events seasons behind her, alumni including La Rioja Alta, Léoville Barton, Mailly Grand Cru and Churchill Port to name but a few, there is reason indeed to celebrate. And that’s even before we mention her inimitable Zoom teaching; there is so much laughter echoing through the house that I sometimes wonder if they have completely re-written the WSET course since my day, way back when.

No, it seems; the course is even harder now I gather. No reason not to have fun, however.

And reason indeed to celebrate; but what with? I am lucky enough to sample new release Champagnes frequently and I can, without the slightest hesitation, heartily recommend 2012 as a vintage of note. After the universally praised 2008, we had the ripe and, to some, indulgent 2009, a somewhat lacklustre 2010 and then a 2011 which is best described as a complete wash out! After similar conditions in 2001, we need 2021 to be something special, or the 01s will consider themselves doomed. Even 1961 was not that special in Champagne.

Après le déluge…………. what could possibly be worse?! The start of the 2012 season was dramatically inauspicious; mother nature sent out four horsemen of the meteorological apocalypse; rain, hail, frost and snow, and threatened a year even poorer than 2011. Then…………... a transformative miracle: persistent hot weather, benign rain at just the right times through the summer and a harvest brought in under skies of the most perfect azure…………. the early blights had reduced yields, for sure, but also concentrated the fruit; the resulting musts bequeathed power and no lack of glory to the fermentation vats. What a transformation! 2012 was especially auspicious for Pinot Noir; indeed my friend the Champagne author Michael Edwards proclaims that it’s the best vintage in Champagne for Pinot Noir since 1953! And the Chardonnay is pretty impressive too… For fellow Pinot fans, it looks as if we can look forward to wines of similar stature in 2015 and 2019. A suivre!

For now let’s enjoy the 2012s, with many of the big names now released and currently available. We still await, inter alia, Dom Pérignon, Heidsieck Rare and Comtes de Champagne. Of those that have come out over the last eighteen months or so, my palmères go to Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill, Krug Edition 168 (base year 2012), Bollinger Grand Année, Veuve Clicquot la Grande Dame and Roederer Cristal. Humdingers, one and all. Wines of power and persuasion, sense and sensibility; wines for the cellar, for sure, but for now, for Rebecca and for celebration. Santé, mes amis…


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