The modern day Maison of Veuve Clicquot possesses one of the finest champagne vineyards, both in terms of its size and the quality of its vines. Its 390 hectares are divided between 12 of the 17 Grands Crus, and between 20 of the 44 Premiers Crus that constitute the entire Champagne region. This exceptional heritage was built up over the centuries, founded upon the parcels first established by the founder, and added to by subsequent vineyard directors. In particular, Veuve Clicquot bears the fortuitous territorial mark of Madame Clicquot.
Like Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot is also owned by LVMH, but no-one would suggest this has led to any confusion between what are radically different styles. Most obviously, a few extra years of bottle-age for the Veuve allows the wine to add nuances of toast or biscuit. This bottle is halfway, so it seems, with lots of citrus and stone fruit, backed by good acidity, and a hint of toast. $90; 94 points & Halliday’s Top 100 Wines for 2009 – The Weekend Australian November 14-15, 2009
Grapes from as many as 50 to 60 different Crus go to the blending of Brut Yellow Label. Traditionally, the proportion of each grape variety used is: · 50 to 55% Pinot Noir · 15 to 20% Pinot Meunier · 28 to 33% Chardonnay. These figures vary slightly from year to year according to conditions. The Cellar Master has to achieve the total consistency of taste, which makes Brut Yellow Label so immediately recognisable, so utterly reliable both in terms of quality, colour and bouquet. He will draw on priceless reserve wines for the blend: from 25 to 35%, sometimes as much as 40% to ensure the continuity of the House style. Each of these older wines - perhaps nine years old - is kept separately to preserve the unique qualities of the vineyard and the vintage.
First, Brut Yellow Label looks beautiful: golden-yellow, with a foaming necklace of tiny bubbles. Next it is so pleasing to the nose: initially reminiscent of white fruits and raisins, then of vanilla and later of brioche. Note the fine balance between the fruity aromas coming from the grape varieties and the toasty aromas following the ageing in the bottle. The first sip delivers all the freshness and forcefulness so typical of Yellow Label with asymphony of fruit tastes following on. Here is a true member of the powerful Brut family, well structured, admirably vinous. The lingering aromas echo and re-echo, with each fruit or spice note distinct. Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label manages to reconcile two opposing factors - forcefulness and finesse - and to hold them in perfect balance. This consistent power to please makes it ideal as an aperitif, and perfect as the Champagne to enjoy with a meal.
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