We gathered some members from Richard Juhlin Champagne Club this Thursday to taste some mature Vueve Cliquot’s. The Tasting took place @ The Champagne bar by Richard Juhlin in Stockholm.
RJ on VEUVE CLIQUOT In Sweden, no Champagne is as well known as the “Gula Änkan,” the Yellow Widow. The house was founded in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot. His son, François, married Nicole-Barbe Ponsardin, who took over the company at the age of twenty-seven when she found herself a widow. By her side was Comte Edouard Werlé and the firm’s chef de caves, Antoine Müller. Together with Müller she developed “remuage” using “pupitres.” One Heinrich Bohne then helped to take the Russian market by storm. Throughout the nineteenth century and right up to the 1970s, Clicquot was reckoned as one of the top four or five Champagne companies, a position they still are very close to obtain. At first the company merged with Canard-Duchêne, but today it is a part of the powerful Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) group. The 284 hectares owned by Clicquot in twenty-two villages are enough for around three of the almost 18 million bottles produced each year. The most important crus for La Grande Dame and the vintage wine are Ambonnay, Bouzy, Avize, Cramant, Le Mesnil, Oger, and Verzenay. Since 1962 modern vinification techniques and stainless-steel tanks have been used. If you find old, well-kept vintages they’ll be very like Bollinger and Krug. Despite the factory scale, the house has managed to keep its Pinot-based classic style, where dough, bread, and pepper are clear elements. Jacques Peters, who is brother to François Peters in Le Mesnil and an equally gifted winemaker, should get the credit for Clicquot’s quality today. The talented new winemaker Dominique Demarville follows smothly in the same tracks. The rich and honeyed La Grande Dame is a wonderful champagne, but the powerfull and nutty vintage wine often gives best value for money. Cave Privée is probably the best bargain on the market. A classic house that is one of the greatest!
1996 VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘VINTAGE RÉSERVE’ | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 59PN 8PM 33CH | RJpoints 93(94)
TASTING NOTE As expected, a big Clicquot with young juicy, sweet, almost exotic fruit, rich breadiness, and big muscles. The acidity is in no way intrusive, keeping instead under the sweet fruit—but it does guarantee a long life, and is noticeable in the finish. Most likely enjoyable in all phases of its life. For the moment, however, fine creamy Chardonnay is in the driver’s seat. Majestic in magnums.
RJ ON 1996 ***** Probably one of the greatest vintages. Not since 1928 has there been a wine with as much acidity in combination with high potential alcohol, which should cater to a really long life. Just like 1990, there are examples of wines that are made with almost overripe grapes with lower acidity. These examples show a transparent oxidative and rounded profile. Otherwise, most of the 1996s are real child abductions, with a biting acidity and monumental inherent power. I am highly impressed by the grand-cru growers, with Jacques Selosse and Diebolt-Vallois fleur de Passion in the lead. Dom Pérignon is wonderful as are Cuvée William Deutz Rosé, Louis Roederer Cristal, Cristal Rosé, Krug Clos du Mesnil, and the monumental Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Française and Krug Clos d’Ambonnay.
1990 VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘VINTAGE RÉSERVE’ | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 56PN 11PM 33CH | RJpoints 92(92)
TASTING NOTE For a long time this wine was a beautiful little one. Today often oxidized, enormously rich and loads of aromas of foie gras!
RJ ON 1990 ***** The detractors should have kept silent! For a period of time it was popular to condemn the 1990s as oxidized. But the vast majority are now in a youthful steady phase towards great-ness. Champagne from 1990 was, for a long time, much more severe than in the 1989, but richer than the 1988. Perchance the 1988 is more classic, but the 1990 is something unique. I am too young to have experienced the 1928s in its younger days, but I can imagine they had the same compact, impressive structure, and tight but great fragrance. The wines are so extract-rich that they are chewable. At the age of ten, many 1990s matured and got a honey tone backed by saffron, which can be a great hook at a blind tasting. It will be extremely interesting to follow the famous trilogy on their journey through time. The only, and not entirely unexpected 99-pointers, were Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises, and Krug Clos du Mesnil.
1989 VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘VINTAGE RÉSERVE’ | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 67PN 33CH | RJpoints 88(89)
TASTING NOTE The ’89 is somewhat fruitier than usual, with distinct elements of mature Chardonnay, even if the classic breadiness is present in the background. Very interesting to taste against the ’88, which surprisingly is very much like the ’89. Perhaps there’s a slightly greater roundness and fleshiness in the ’89, and the ’88 definitely has more nuances of taste and, above all, better length.
RJ ON 1989 *** From the outset, 1989 was the richest and most developed vintage. That year’s weather condi- tions were similar to 1947, 1959, and 1976. The yield was accordingly sweet, producing extractrich wines with high alcohol and low acidity. I imagine that the average person is most fond of the 1989s. A wonderful vintage to drink now, but it is a bit tight because several wines begin to lose some fruit. Krug Clos du Mesnil, Jacques Selosse, Louis Roederer Cristal, and Cristal Rosé shine brightest.
1988 VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘VINTAGE RÉSERVE’ | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 56PN 11PM 33CH | RJpoints 95(95)
TASTING NOTE The vintage wine from Clicquot is always a sure bet with a bready, yeasty, peppery nose and rich autolytic taste. The ’88 is no exception. A gorgeously rich ’88 that has a very fascinating aftertaste. Big, nutty depth and wonderful fruit tones reminiscent of orange and mandarin.
RJ ON 1988 ***** The three-year success that began in 1988 is unprecedented in the history of champagne. It is more about style than quality when you choose your favorite from these three years. The 1988 is the most classic and reminds me of the minimalist balanced way of 1985, 1979, and 1966. Pinot noir was particularly high class this year. Krug has an unparalleled sophistication and their Clos du Mesnil is an angelic drink. Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé from this year is one of my highest-rated rosés ever. One of history’s primary vintages.
1982 VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘VINTAGE RÉSERVE’ | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 65PN 5PM 3OCH | RJpoints 94(94)
TASTING NOTE This is the company’s best wine from 1982, as La Grande Dame wasn’t made this year. The Champagne has a fine, well-built body and a mature, fully packed fruitiness. Wonderful in magnum with a delicious aroma of oatcakes.
RJ ON 1982 **** Finally came a year of enormous production (295 million bottles). The vines in Côte des Blancs were so overloaded with grapes that they were bowed by the weight. The over- production led to far too many 1982s, which haven’t aged as well as expected. 1982 was especially a Chardonnay year. If you find one of the grand cru-growers’ 1982, you can be pretty sure about getting an exotic experience. In a big 1982 tasting with all the big names represented, many blanc de blancs did end up at the top. Krug and Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises were the only exceptions. Krug Clos du Mesnil won with a small margin over Jacques Selosse and 1982 Krug.
1985 VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘VINTAGE RÉSERVE ROSÉ’ | Reims | Champagne | France | Veuve Clicquot | 64PN 8PM 28CH | RJpoints 93(93)
TASTING NOTE The color is medium-deep with hints of copper and bronze. The nose is peculiar, with earthy aromas similar to hyacinth and geranium. The taste is abrupt, continuing along the same theme, combined with a peppery aftertaste. I should add that the wine has become creamier with age.
RJ ON 1985 **** One of my favorite vintages of champagne that staggered for a few years, but in most cases now is fine again. If the wines can come back out of the tunnel, only the future will show us. During the winter, Champagne was hit by temperatures below -13°F, which destroyed 10 percent of the vines. An Indian summer in September and October saved a small crop that subsequently proved to be of outstanding quality. Both pinot and Chardonnay have an exceptional balance. Both Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises and Krug Clos du Mesnil got 99 points, and Perrier- Jouët Belle Époque is a shining star alongside Charles Heidsieck Champagne Charlie as well as both the pink and the white kind of William Deutz.