Last month during our Vins Clairs visit to Champagne, we tasted a new release from Veuve Clicquot with Cellar Master, Dominique Demarville. Under embargo, we unfortunately couldn’t reveal any details about this new Champagne and Dominique had us sworn to secrecy…. until today!
Dominique introduced his new creation by first explaining the concept behind the Champagne. Telling us it was important to understand the value of Veuve Clicquot’s impressive reserve wine stock, he reiterated what an immense quantity of reserves that Clicquot have, highlighting how they are carefully treated and stored with purpose. “Our reserve wines are kept on the lees and separated according to harvest, grape variety and cru,” Dominique told us. In 2011, he decided to explore this collection of reserves and conducted an experiment, creating a new blend consisting of just reserve wines. The experiment was a success and thus; Extra Brut Extra Old was born.
Made entirely from reserve wines from six different vintages – 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 1996, 1988 – the blend has matured for three years in the bottle, followed by just under another year in Clicquot’s cellars post-disgorgement. With a dosage of just 3 g/L this is the first Extra Brut the house has made (excluding their Cave Privée label). Dominique explained the low dosage is “a result of the richness of the wines used to make the Champagne – due to their age.” This low dosage and the age of the reserve wines included are the inspiration behind the name: Extra Brut Extra Old.
The blend is 52% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 18% Pinot Meunier. Dominique told us he has no intentions for this to be a high-volume Champagne, commenting: “We cannot use all of the best reserve wines; we need them for Yellow Label.” As such, there has been a very small production – just 30,000 bottles maximum. However, he did inform us that this is an annual project; he will create an Extra Brut Extra Old cuvée every year using a carefully selected range of different reserve wines to produce a similar style.
Tasting it for the first time, we observed the surprisingly delicate, light and fresh character of the Champagne. Dominique explained this is in part due to the lower pressure he employed for this cuvée: just 4.5 bars compared to the typical 6 bars. Reducing the pressure by 25% has delightfully softened what could otherwise be quite a dry tasting experience and adds a sophisticated light effervescence.
Disgorged in June 2016, Dominique believes that whilst just under a year’s ageing is perfect for pre-release, it also has great long-term potential. “This will continue to develop and improve with age if cellared, for sure,” he added. This latest release follows 2015’s launch of Veuve Clicquot Rich – the super-sweet ‘mixing Champagne’ – and together they form Clicquot’s response to what Dominique views as a demand for a broad range of Champagne-drinking occasions.
At the official launch yesterday he told The Drinks Business: “The Champagne market today is becoming more challenging but also very interesting because there are possibilities to innovate, opportunities to create new atmospheres, new tasting territories, and with the Veuve Clicquot portfolio we have today we can create many kinds of experience with our Champagnes for different kinds of consumers.”
And what an experience Dominique has created. This Champagne tastes incredible, a perfect balance of youth and maturity, it has fruit character, creaminess and precision galore. And whilst availability hasn’t officially been revealed yet, we are told it should be in the coming weeks. This is one to watch out for.
Veuve Clicquot Extra Brut Extra Old
Wow. Packed full of ripe and fresh fruits like apple and pear. This has loads of richness and power and tension. Lovely creaminess and a hint of spice, with honeyed notes on the finish. Such a youthful palate, the finish is dry but fresh and precise. This is very good. 18.5-19.0/20