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An International Wine Challenge Gold-medal winner in 2020, this will delight fans of the lighter styles of Champagne. From a superb vintage, it's a joy to drink already, offering minerality, precision and poise, but there is no rush!
Product Code: CH4081
View all products by Champagne Henriot
The Henriot family arrived in Champagne from Lorraine in 1640 and set to work establishing themselves as textile and wine brokers. It was in 1808 that the enterprising Apolline Henriot began the Champagne house that still bears her name and which is still in family hands over two centuries later. She built a successful business supplying some of the crowned heads of Europe and her initial success has in turn been built on by successive generations and despite the depredations of phylloxera and the First World War. Until recently the head of this Rheims-based house today was Joseph Henriot, who was once in charge at Charles Heidsieck and Veuve Clicquot, and contributed greatly to their success. His sure touch kept Henriot among the best Champagne producers until his death in 2015. It was he who oversaw the acquisition by Henriot of Charles-Heidsieck, the famous Burgundy négociant business Bouchard Père et fils and legendary Chablis house William Févre as well as producers of Cassis and Beaujolais. A thorough pragmatist, he merged Henriot with Veuve Clicquot in 1985, under the control of the luxury goods group Louis Vuitton-Möet-Hennesy, and he retained a seat on the LVMH board and was in place to buy his family house back in 1994. Sadly he died in 2015 but his heirs have maintained the focus on wines of great depth and finesse through a rigorous approach in their own vineyards and a deep knowledge of the terroirs of their grape suppliers. The house employs both chardonnay and pinot noir in blends with no pinot meunier used in any wine, but there is no doubt that they are chardonnay specialists and their blancs de blancs is justly famous among Champagne lovers. No herbicides or pesticides or artificial fertilisers are used in any vineyards and the chardonnay vines are pruned so that they have only two fruiting branches rather than four, in the Chablis style. Wherever the grapes come they are vinified separately at the cellars so that the chef de cave has the broadest palette of flavours to select from. Their patient and skilful approaches to blending and maturation have paid dividends, with alll Henriot wines being matured for more than twice the official requirements, in their deep chalk cellars in Rheims.
Vintage cuvées often represent the very best Champagnes made by a house or grower. In theory, Champagne producers may declare a vintage in any year they please. Occasionally a house or grower will declare a vintage that seems out of step with the majority of producers if they feel that the performance of their particular vineyard(s) warrant it in any year.Generally, however, vintage Champagnes are only made in exceptional vintages.In contrast with the NV (non-vintage) wines, which are blended to maintain a house style, producers want their vintage Champagnes to display the quality and character of that one year's harvest. Vintage Champagnes always benefit from cellaring, and develop beautifully for those with the patience to leave them. They can be drunk upon release, but the vast majority will improve immeasurably with age. Champagne is made from chardonnay, pinot noir or pinot meunier grapes (there are one or two other permitted varieties but these are very rare) grown on chalky hillsides within a strictly demarcated region centred on the twin towns of Reims and Epernay, some 90 miles east of Paris. After hand harvesting, each grape variety is vinified separately, and in the following spring, the wines are blended unless a blancs de blancs is to made in which case any blending will be from parcels of chardonnay that were vinified separately. Yeast and sugar are added, and the wine is bottled for its second fermentation which creates the bubbles, or mousse. The yeast feeds on the sugars, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide, which, with nowhere else to go in the sealed bottle, dissolves into the wine. Vintage Champagne must then mature for at least three years compared with a minimum of 15 months for non-vintage. Gradual turning of the bottles, remuage, brings the yeast sediment to the neck of the bottle, which is then frozen to allow the yeast pellet to be cleanly ejected (dégorgement). In some Champagnes the dégorgement is delayed, sometimes for years, to increase the depth and complexity of the flavours through more time spent on the lees. After topping up (dosage) with a little more wine and sugar (known as liqueur d'expédition), the bottle is sealed. What marks the ‘Champagne’ method from other sparkling wines is the fact that this complex and gradual maturation process, along with the second fermentation, takes place in the same bottle as the wine is sold.
A vintage where September saved the day after an indifferent summer which saw difficulties with mildew. Conditions at harvest, however, were excellent and the grapes healthy. Though acidity was a shade higher than normal, there was a fine balance in the wines, suggesting the prospect of excellent longevity. The fact that it was a widely declared vintage says it all and it is excellent overall.
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