Champagne Veuve Clicquot Extra Brut Extra Old

Back in June this year I was in Sydney for the evening, just to attend a very special tasting. Veuve Cliquot cellar master Dominique Demarville, was in Australia to launch a very exciting new wine, Extra Brut Extra Old. This is a premium Non Vintage Champagne, made entirely from older Reserve Wines, and the first Extra Brut cuvée made by the house. Since Dominque started as the 10th Cellar master of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin in 2009, he has been gradually improving the quality of the famous Yellow label by holding back a lot of top quality wine to increase their reserves. These add depth, complexity and richness. The idea behind this new cuvee, was to showcase the importance of those Reserve wines to the House. Extra Brut Extra Old is comprised entirely of Reserves spanning six vintages, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 1996 and 1988. The Reserve Wines are all stored on their lees in a mix of Stainless Steel and Concrete vats, with the 1988 being the oldest still in their stocks, with only 50hl of this precious liquid remaining.

We were privileged enough to be able to taste all of the actual reserve wines that make up extra Brut Extra Old, and see how time gives a real concentration and creamy silky nature to these. Being a Pinot dominant house, we see that in 47% of the blend. 2009 Grand Cru Ay, 2006 Grand Cru Verzy and 1996 Loche sur Ource from the Cotes de bar. Then we have 27% Chardonnay, 2008 1er Cru Villers Marmery and 1988 Grand Cru Cramant. We finish with 26% Pinot Meunier which is all 2010 1er Cru Ville Dommange from the Montagne de Reims. The proportion of the two oldest wines is fairly small, there is just 1% of the 1988 Cramant in this blend. Trying the base wines you can see why, it had such a saline intensity up front, a real butter cream mid palate, and a powerful finish that still has strong acid. Dominique explained these older wines are like spices in a dish, you need just a touch or they overwhelm the flavour. But most surprising was just how fresh they still were.

Unlike any other Champagne this is then double aged, first the base wines are blended, and then aged together on their lees in vats for 3 years, up to 5% oak is used. They then go into bottle for 3 years of secondary fermentation and lees aging. At this stage the wine is produced with a lower pressure than usual, just 4.5 bars compared to the usual 6. This is to produce a very light effervescence, smaller and finer bubbles to emphasise the creaminess on the palate.  The wine was then disgorged in June of 2016, and given an Extra Brut dosage of just 3g/l, the lowest in the history of the house. Dominique explained that Extra But is a direct consequence of Extra Old, thus the name. Because of the richness of the older reserve wines, it requires much less sugar to keep the balance. He tried a number of different possibilities, from 5g/l all the ways down to zero dosage. He found too much sugar tended to cover the purity of the wine, and no sugar at all was too extreme, you lost some of the creaminess and silkiness of the texture.

The result of all this is a gorgeous wine of purity and finesse with a lot of complexity. Despite the name, Extra Brut Extra Old starts out very light and fresh, soft and creamy in the mouth before it builds in concentration and intensity as the older wines start to show. Finishing with just a hint of that salinity from the 1998 Cramant Chardonnay. This interesting and exciting Champagne is beautiful drinking now, but I believe also has a long life ahead, ten to fifteen years should be no problem in a good cellar.

Words by Regan McCaffery – Glengarry Fine Wine Account Consultant, Auckland, New Zealand.

 

Glengarry Wines Westmere Wine Club | Grower Champagne Tasting

Wednesday night, Westmere.
A bunch of people turned up just before 7PM and swiftly walked the stairs that took them to our tasting room upstairs. Waiting for them, a long wooden table neatly set up with champagne flutes and plates already filled with entrees.
Liz, our Champagne Guru and General Manager, and Serena, Westmere’s store manager, were the two hosts for the event.

The night cracked on with a taste of J Lassalle Preference 1er Cru Brut and a quick introduction of the reality of Grower Champagnes.

After that, the wine and food matching began.
The whole night swirled around extremely informative and captivating speeches from Liz quickly followed by notes on the flavours regarding both the wine and the food matched with it from Serena.

Lilbert-Fils Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, Andre Jacquart & Fils Blanc de Blancs Brut, Paul Bara Brut Reserve, Serge Mathieu Tradition Brut and, last but not least, Henri Giraud l’Esprit de Giraud Brut were the grower champagnes starring the tasting. Liz entertained everyone with interesting facts, bucket loads of knowledge, juicy details about her trip to Champagne and the discovery journey of these absolutely wonderful grower Houses.
Food wise, Serena went through a long research process and cross referenced tasting charts, wine tasting notes, food blog reviews and personal notes and came up with a unique menu that enhanced and completed the overall experience. Veggie sushi, coriander chicken and prawn skewers, Emmental du France cream vol-au-vent were some of the dishes served to those lucky customers who attended.

Words by  Serena Cappellini | Retail Manager, Glengarry Wines Westmere

The State of NZ Wines

 

Of all the wine shows out there, there are just two that are owned by NZ Winegrowers: the Air NZ
Wine Awards and the lesser known little brother, the Bragato Wine Awards. Historically lost a little
behind the Air NZ Wine Awards might (likely due to the exposure opportunities the $ of the
sponsorship brings), the Bragato Wine Awards play an important role. Named after Romeo Bragato,
the New Zealand Government Viticulturist from 1902 – 1909, the Bragato Wine Awards champion
Domain wines – where grapes are coming from owned vineyards and single vineyard sites. In
addition, the lower minimum quantity requirement (than the Air NZ Awards) results in many smaller
producers being able to enter. As the first show after new vintage releases start hitting the shelves,
it’s also a good gauge of how the vintage is looking.

 

I had the opportunity to join the judging again this year, which took place in mid August. Great to be able to see such a wide variety of wines and judge with such a talented team. The results will be out

by the time this is published and the award winning wines are well worth hunting out. The individual
results are not what I wanted to share here, but more some observations I walked away with from
the judging and the colourful discussion.

An absolute highlight was the Cabernet dominant class. We were blessed with the vintages on the table this year ‐ 2013, 2014 and 2015. It’s been widely reported that 13 and 14 are exceptionalvintages for Hawke’s Bay and Waiheke, being the two regions that Cabernet dominant wines love.

The 2015 vintage though showed exceptionally well and is right up there with the preceding
vintages; something very rare indeed, three excellent vintages in a row. I am guilty of not having
tasted a lot of NZ Cabernet of late, with my recent travels taking me to Bordeaux to taste new
vintages there. I was super impressed with the overall quality, the results when out will highlight this
further; do hunt out the award winners in store, they are well worth taking a look at.
The Pinot Noir category as you can imagine was large and diverse, the quality unmistakable; there’s
a reason the rest of the world are standing up and taking notice. The very best of the Syrah flights
were super and would leave many a Rhône producer speechless.

Within the White categories, Sauvignon Blanc (whilst not everyone’s favourite to judge, particularly
at 8am) showed why NZ Sauvignon is such a distinctive and unique style. Pinot Gris was so much
more consistent than I’ve seen it in the past, a clearer sense of a NZ Pinot Gris style emerging.
Chardonnay, as you would expect, created the most conversation amongst the judges, the differing
faces of Chardonnay pushing boundaries, which I believe is a good thing.
All in all, two days of intense judging and it’s clear that the NZ Wine industry is in good shape. Do
taste for yourself though; this month at Glengarry we take a regional road trip around NZ and
explore this great country of ours.

Babich Irongate Vertical Tasting | Glengarry Hutt Road

If there was ever a living icon in the wine industry, the title would surely have to go to Joe Babich. Joe joined the family business in 1958 and has achieved much over his career – he was awarded Winemaker of the Year in1994 and in 2014 both Peter and Joe were awarded the Sir George Fistonich Medal in recognition for services to the New Zealand wine industry. Babich is still a family-run company and are currently celebrating their 100th year anniversary. To celebrate this achievement Babich have been running a number of tastings with us, including the Irongate vertical tasting we had here at Hutt Road with Joe.

Irongate Chardonnay has been produced from the Gimblett Gravels since 1985 and for this tasting Joe decided to treat us to four vintages of this fabulous wine. It was extremely interesting to see the development of this wine over several vintages. The 2002, although still an elegant wine, was starting to show signs of attenuation; the 2008 was my favourite – this was pungent and rich and had a fabulous silken texture; the 2011 was more restrained but had beautiful balance and incredible length. The current vintage, 2014, was also elegant but a little more closed and tight; this is a wine to put away for a short time (3-5 years) and will reward handsomely.

Following on from the Chardonnay we did four Irongate Reds. These wines are composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc – the Cabernet content stays pretty much the same but the Merlot and Franc varies slightly depending on vintage. For this tasting we went from the youngest wine to the oldest wine. The first off the starting block was the 2014 and what a little charmer this wine was – lifted florals and mulberry on the nose, the palate was voluptuous and rich, it had a lovely sweetness, and deserved some time to rest before consuming. Following the 2014 we had the 2013; another stunning vintage from the region. This was every bit as good as the 2014 but surprisingly different in character – it had deep rich black fruits and was a little more closed at this stage in its life. The 2008 was drinking well right now! It was dark and showed dried fruits and spices, and finely integrated tannins. The 1990 was a treat and was older than three of our staff members that attended the tasting! It had a very old nose and was the a bricky colour, but remarkably the wine was holding incredibly well and had excellent length. It was more on the savoury side now as most of the obvious fruit had fallen away but it still retained a freshness and its life was by no means over.

The tasting was an absolute treat and it was an honour to meet Joe Babich, a man that has contributed so much to the New Zealand wine industry. Here’s to the next 100 years!

Posted by Meredith Parkin | Fine Wine Account Manager, Glengarry Hutt Road, Wellington.

Trinity Hill | Homage 2014 – with John Hancock

Trinity Hill is an iconic New Zealand winery, the idea for which was formed in London in 1987. John Hancock was meeting in the restaurant Bleeding Heart, owned by Robert and Robyn Wilson. Over a bottle of John’s Morton Estate Chardonnay, the Wilson’s expressed their desire to produce their own world-class wines in the Hawkes Bay. John had already recognised the outstanding potential of the Gimblett Gravels district, and they began planting in 1993 on the barren former bed of the Ngaruroro River. Since those early days, this sub-region has become one of the most expensive and important wine growing areas in the country. We were lucky to have John himself here this week to talk us through that history, and taste their Black Label Gimblett Gravels wines from the 2014 vintage.

 The highlight of the evening was the two vintages of their flagship wine ‘Homage’. The 2014 has only just been bottled and will not be released until the end of the year. This was a real treat to be able to taste these two outstanding years side by side now. Homage was first produced in 2002, and is named as a tribute to the late Gerard Jaboulet of Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aine in France’s Rhone Valley. They produced one of the world’s greatest Syrah in the form of the famous ‘La Chapelle’ Hermitage. Gerard was also a great friend of Robert and Robyn Wilson and had hosted many legendary dinners at the Bleeding Heart. John Hancock also worked alongside Gerard at Jaboulet’s cellars during the 1996 harvest, and when he left was presented with cuttings of Syrah from the La Chapelle vineyard, and Viognier from Les Jumelles in Cote Rotie. It was these cuttings that formed the basis of the plantings that now make up Homage.

2013 and 2014 are arguably the finest back to back vintages Hawkes Bay has ever seen. I haven’t tried the 2013 since last year and it is now looking much more integrated, while the 2014 is still trying to find its feet. If you prefer rich opulence, then the 2014 is the wine for you; the 2013 is a little darker and harder in character, but both are outstanding wines. Unlike some of the other ‘super premium’ Hawkes Bay Syrah, I find Homage less polished and refined on release, it just takes a lot more time to settle down into itself. This is a wine that demands at least 10 years of cellaring to really show what’s it’s made of. It’s more brutish, edgier and has tons of character. A few years back John and I also hosted a tasting where we compared 4 vintages of ‘Homage’ directly with ‘La Chapelle’ and La Petite Chapelle and they really do have a very similar character. Time and vine age will only serve to improve what Trinity Hill is producing down there. I’ve got a number of bottles in my own cellar, and so should you.

The wines tasted were:

Gimblett Gravels Marsanne / Viognier 2014, Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay 2014, Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2014, Gimblett Gravels ‘The Gimblett’ 2014 (Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc), Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2014, Homage 2014 (Pre Release), Homage 2013.

Posted by Regan McCaffery | Fine Wine Account Manager, Glengarry Wines Victoria Park, Auckland

En Primeur 2015 – Over to the Right Bank

After two days of extensive tastings on the Left Bank, it was time to see what all the noise on the Right Bank was about. All very much warranted I must say. The overriding impression of the Right Bank wines is one of completeness. If you think back to the 2005 vintage – it was all about structure; the 2009 vintage – the wines were all about the impressive up front, ripe fruit; 2010 was about the freshness, drive and acidity. With the 2015 vintage, it’s not about identifying one thing; everything is there you see, in its correct place, the right amount and in the perfect way. It’s a vintage about balance, precise balance. What the challenge appeared to be in 2015 was to take the excellent fruit provided in the vintage and not make a mistake in the winery; fortunately very few have.
After a visit to the UGC tasting for Pomerol, the first stop of the day was Petrus. 100% Merlot and fortunately a normal size crop – 2013 was half the normal and 2014 was two thirds. The alcohol is high at 14.5%, though you certainly don’t notice it at all. A wonderful comment from the team at Petrus – ‘we make it to please the consumer, not to impress’. It’s not about power at all here, so exceptionally well balanced.
From there, a short distance, we visited at Château Lafleur; what a treat. All the wines brilliant, Lafleur itself stunning, There’s a clear story through this wine; first the fruit, then a ripe and creamy middle, fine tannins, velvety smooth finish that is so long it comes in the car with you to your next appointment.
And next up was Château Cheval Blanc. The tasting this year in their super modern new winery. Interestingly this year, there’s no Petit Cheval. Of the parcels that usually go into Petit Cheval, some did not make the quality of Petit Cheval and some were so good, they made Cheval Blanc, increasing the overall production of Cheval this year. We also had the opportunity here to taste Château d’Yquem. Another super sweet wine from the 2015 vintage.
The JP Moueix properties were next on the tasting line up. What a line up they were; not a good wine in there, all excellent, many exceptional. Château La Serre stands out this year, gorgeous and very appealing. A relatively new wine to the JPM stable, Clos Saint Martin was a super surprise. Located near Château Angelus and surrounded by top properties, each taste of this left me wanting more. A tiny production unfortunately, a mere 250 cases in total. Château Latour a Pomerol, Certan de May, Lafleur Pétrus and Trotanoy are all exceptional this year, top wines from these very good Chateau. For me, Lafleur Pétrus my standout today.
Two more tastings to complete the day: the UGC for Saint-Émilion, where Clos Fourtet and Pavie- Macquin were excellent; then a charming visit to Château Beau Séjour Bécot where we were hosted by Julien Berthe.
Three very full days of Bordeaux tastings completed and, yes, it’ll be Bordeaux for dinner tonight. Trotanoy 1999 to be exact. A notebook full of tasting notes from a great vintage and plenty of good memories; this vintage was a delight to taste.

En Primeur 2015 – Another day meandering up and down the Médoc

Our second day of tasting took us back to the Left Bank and first up the UGC tasting at Gruaud Larose. Another strong set of wines, though St Julien, more than any of the other appellations, showed the most diversity in style. All the wines very valid, wonderful expressions, just different. Highlights were Château Gloria, a generous, fine and precise wine; Leoville Barton a firmer, stronger structured bold wine with perfect balance; Gruaud Larose with amazing length, balance and polish; Branaire Ducru opulent, exotic and structured.
Next up was the UGC tasting at Château Citran and the Haut-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc and Moulis-en-Médoc. Overall the vintage was of excellent quality; there are plenty of wines from these areas that will represent very good value and make wonderful options for midterm cellaring; Château Fonréaud, Château Fourcas Dupré, Château Poujeaux and Château Cantermerle stood out, Château Tour Du By not far behind them.
Then it was on to Margaux; spoilt for choice here, so many great wines. I particularly enjoyed Château Giscours, Château Malescot St-Exupéry and Château Lascombes.
Château Margaux was a visit of mixed emotion. Paul Pontallier sadly passed away recently, the Margaux team putting on a very brave face. Château Margaux 2015 is exceptional, so much to say about this great wine; as is always the case with Margaux, it’s not about the power. The sensational quality of this wine creeps up on you; it is expansive and, just when you thought you’d experienced it all, the acidity is like the accelerator is pushed to the ground, driving the exceptionally long finish. The tannins can’t go without mention; so ripe at first you barely notice them, then you note that the concentration of the fruit is held together with something.
Onto the glorious Château Pichon Baron, where we were treated to all of their properties: Château Pibran, Château Petit Village, Château Pichon Baron of course and Suduiraut. All very good, Tourelles de Longueville is excellent this year and this, now the third tasting of Suduiraut for us, confirmed yet again that it has to be one of, if not, the sweet wine of the vintage.
Last Château for the day was at the top of the Médoc in St-Estèphe, Cos d’Estournel. The weather conditions during 2015, particularly the heat in July, was a little too much for some of the vineyard sites at Cos; this resulted in severe selection and a reduction in the production this year. Les Pagodes de Cos benefited from this, receiving this year some of the Merlot that did not make it into Cos. Cos itself is very good; a different style of Cos, less forward and structured than in previous years, it’s a good change.
The final act for the day was the Ban du Millésime – the celebration of the vintage. A super dinner in the centre of Bordeaux; a great opportunity and excuse to drink older Bordeaux, including for us a 1983 Lafite, a nice way to finish the day. Liz Wheadon | Bordeaux, France.

En Primeur 2015 – time to taste first hand and see what it’s like.

En Primeur Day One: Today we were on the Left Bank, starting the day bright and early at Mouton Rothschild. A good place to start, which also gave a very quick impression that was cemented as the day went on. This is a vintage that shows appellation clearly and, more so, the individual Château style. In vintages like 2009, you didn’t see this so much; in 2015, D’Armailhac, Clerc Milon, Le Petit Mouton and Mouton were four very distinctive, individual wines. D’Armailhac the bright lively one with vibrant acidity; Clerc Milon all about its juicy core of fruit; Le Petit Mouton dense dark and brooding, showing a glimpse of what the excellent Mouton is all about.

It was a morning of firsts; next up was Lafite, followed by Latour. At Lafite we looked at Duhart Milon, Carruades and Lafite. Latour was fascinating; not only did we taste the 2015 of all three wines, but also the wines just released: Pauillac 2010, Les Forts de Latour 2009 and Latour 2000 – we’ll have an offer on the second two mid-month. The Les Forts de Latour was my wine of the day for – ‘I’ll have a glass, or two, tonight please’. Superb age to be drinking this.

Pontet-Canet is once again looking very smart. Situated very much right beside Mouton, down the road from Lafite, yet, when you taste the wines, it’s striking how very different these wines are. Whether it’s the site, the biodynamics, the eggs, or something else, there’s no mistaking these wines for Pontet-Canet and once again the Tesseron duo have pulled something quite exceptional together.

The two vineyards, looking at each other across the road just south of Pauillac, Pichon Lalande and Pichon Baron were both excellent today. Always interesting, which one has the edge, I’d say today, Lalande just slightly.

Palmer. Simply brilliant. Both Alter Ego and Palmer 2015 are some of the best wines from the property. Palmer would have to be one of the wines of the day. Palmer was the only winery we tasted in Margaux, so further assessment is required after tomorrow’s tastings. 

Montrose was very smart indeed; 67% Cabernet this year, it had such intensity, vibrancy and drive. Following this tasting, I tasted at the Union de Grand Cru tasting, seeing a wide range of St Estephe and Pauillac.

The second to last visit for the day was to Château La Lagune where the Sauternes and Barsac producers gather to show their 2015 wines at a UGC tasting. This is a very good vintage for sweet wines, the standouts, Suduiraut and Coutet.

Finally, a visit to one of our Negociants offices, where a wide selection of 2015 and older wines were available. This gave the first opportunity to look at Bordeaux Blanc 2015 – what a sensational vintage for white. Château Pape Clement Blanc and Château Brown Blanc both exceptional. We also tasted the reds from Pessac Léognan at this tasting, a strong appellation for 2015.

As you can tell from the sheer number of superlatives gracing this page, this is a very good vintage, the wines are a lot of fun to taste and a treat.

Glengarry has been selling En Primeur for more than 25 years, with established connections and long term relationships. Visit www.enprimeur.co.nz or www.glengarry.co.nz for more details.