Alfred Gratien Champagne Dinner - An Exercise In style...

Transient
What I really like about these wine dinners is the opportunity to compare & contrast the different wines and draw conclusions about production techniques, ageing evolution, or simply what makes each style so unique.  
Even better to be sitting next to someone who is as passionate about this process as I am.  It is to me the best way to learn about wine.
And so, I was lucky to sit next to Master of Wine Charles Curtis at the Alfred Gratien champagne dinner organised by the Hong Kong Chapter of L'Ordre Des Côteaux De Champagne on last Saturday.
Here is what we tasted, together with a brief exercise in compare & contrast:
 Blanc de Blancs 2007
 Cuvée Paradis Brut 2005
 Cuvée Brut Classique 1999
 Brut Rosé
The wines at Alfred Gratien are first fermented and matured in very old oak barrels from Chablis.  Here, the purpose is to give the wines extra texture.  Not to add any extra aromas.  As well, they are not subjected to malo-lactic fermentation, giving the acidity an extra edge and clarity.  The second fermentation in bottle is made with a cork and not a capsule as they beleive it provides a more authentic ageing process.  Lastly, it seems that all wines are left "sur latte" at least 36 months which is much longer than the aoc requirements.
And so, comparing the 4 wines above:
All are clearly autolytic, refined, and complex. They all have this character that can be described as biscuity, with a touch of brioche & toast.  But this character is very subtle & delicately integrated into each specific style as will be described below.  The mousse of all 4 is delicately creamy on the palate. Caressing almost.  The texture of all 4, most likely from the oak fermentation, has a savouriness, a kind of succulence.
It is in the contrasting of each wines that the tasting becomes more interesting:
 Blanc de Blancs 2007
This was Charles' favourite.  The most delicate of all 4 wines.  Floral in character.  Light aromas of very ripe apples flesh & pears.  Quite mineral.  It is also the leanest of all 4 with a sharp but refreshing acidity.  Long & delicate finish.  Clearly Blanc de Blanc.
 Cuvée Paradis Brut 2005
Here the wine is clearly more empyreumatic but remaining on roasted notes.  Clear aromas of toasted bread, roasted nuts, and brioche crust.  Lovely savouriness and excellent balance.  The mouth feel here is at once lean & succulent.  Interesting texture.  Long after-taste.
 Cuvée Brut Classique 1999
This was my favourite. Very much aged in character.  Very much empyreumatic again but on the caramelized side of the spectrum.  Aromas of burnt sugar, the type one finds on crême brulé.  Lovely addition to the more earthy notes of this wine.  Bruised apples and a touch of spices.  Savoury & succulent texture.  Well balanced but certainly a little heavier on the long finish.  Possibly the result of an older age.
 Brut Rosé
Clearly a rosé.  Delicate red fruits & slight note of cream & white bread.  Lovely refreshing acidity.  The palate if the creamiest of the 4.  Full bodied but fluid all at once.  Lovely & delicately fruity finish.
This was for me a wonderful tasting.  Frankly, wonderful much more from the learning experience it provided.  To clearly contrasting each wine in this way and identifying their specific character and personality is what gives me pleasure from drinking wine.  When the wine making is expertly executed as it is here, what joys to be had!