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The bus left from Hotel L’Assiette Champenoise for Champagne Diebolt-Vallois @ 84 rue Neuve in Cramant. A huge tasting of Fleur de Passion and vintages down to 1953 Vinothèque conducted by Jacques Diebolt himself.

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RJ ON DIEBOLT Jacques Diebolt and his family are some of the nicest people I’ve met in Champagne, and the fact that they produce Chardonnay wines of world class doesn’t hurt either. Several producers in the village make supremely enjoyable Champagnes, but personally I think Diebolt gives the cru another dimension, especially with those wines that haven’t gone through malolactic fermentation, and which were harvested from the sixty-five-year-old vines in Les Pimonts or Les Buzons. There is a thought-provoking depth reminiscent of Le Mesnil, combined with Cramant’s creamy structure. Unfortunately, the demand for Diebolt’s wines is so great that they are forced to sell the Champagne far too early. Diebolt was an unknown name before the firm was awarded Champagne Producer of the Year in 1992 by the magazine Gault Millau, but since then the connoisseurs of the world have fought over their bottles.

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RJ ON FLEUR de PASSION Jacques’s most recent inventions are Fleur de Passion some of the foremost young Champagnes I have tasted, and the ’53 and ’61 are already legendary. Terribly close to five stars because everything Diebolt does is perfect in its way. 2002 Fleur de Passion will become a legend.

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2008 DIEBOLT-VALLOIS ‘FLEUR de PASSION’ | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 92(96)

TASTING NOTE Pre-release-tasting. Despite its extreme youth a great wine today full of beautiful pear-dominated fruit and delightful oak-oriented Montrachet tones.

2007 DIEBOLT-VALLOIS ‘FLEUR de PASSION’ | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 92(96)

TASTING NOTE Pre-release-tasting. Pre-release-tasting. Slightly more rustic and today it feels more oaky than normal at this stage. Here are some nice acidity and one for the vintage impressive richness of extract, but the balance is not what would be expected.

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2006 DIEBOLT-VALLOIS ‘FLEUR de PASSION’ | magnum | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 90(94)

TASTING NOTE Considerably weaker oak influence than usual. Throughout the entire experience is a steel like purity and a delicate youthful aroma of yellow plum and yellow apples. Beneath the surface lurks a depth of vanilla and spices . Certainly this enjoyable, but given how rare these bottles are, they should be stored at least five years after the launch to convert the volatile floral unit to classical nuttiness. 

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2005 DIEBOLT-VALLOIS ‘FLEUR de PASSION’  | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 88(93)

TASTING NOTE Naturally a very difficult wine to assess when we kidnapped it on its third birthday. The structure and the rich, fluffy fruitiness make me convinced that this essence-like wine is going to be wonderful. Rich and fresh. Slow development for being a 2005.

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2004 DIEBOLT-VALLOIS ‘FLEUR de PASSION’  | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 92(93)

TASTING NOTE Young and graceful with chiselled elegance and floral beauty. Some oakiness starting to emerge. Suddenly grand and a year later rocky and mineral salty.

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2002 DIEBOLT-VALLOIS ‘FLEUR de PASSION’ | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 94(96)

TASTING NOTE Extremely young and floral with a massive oakiness and great seriousness at present. Tough acidic. Beautiful roundness started to develop summer 2010. Later more toasty, almost pinot-like smokiness.

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1979 GUY VALLOIS ‘BLANC de BLANCS CUIS’  | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 90(90)

TASTING NOTE  Disgorged Dec10th’04. One of the vintages that Jacques has bought from Guy Vallois—in other words, a pure Cuis disgorged by Diebolt during 2003 and dosed with three grams of sugar. Up until now, the wine has behaved completely differently on the occasions I have tasted it. The first time, elegance and floweriness were the focus and the points were way over 90. The second time, the Champagne was unattractive and slightly clumsy, with certain coarse mature notes, despite a medium-deep color and good mousse. The trilogy of ’85, ’79, and ’76 is fascinating because the wines are still undisgorged and they truly allow the taster to see how individual bottles develop after this much contact with the yeast residue.

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1976 GUY VALLOIS ‘BLANC de BLANCS CUIS’ | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 93(93)

TASTING NOTE  Disgorged Jun17th’05. This is a great wine that comes from Guy Vallois in Cuis, but which has been disgorged and dosed by Jacques Diebolt and thus carries his name—that’s how strange the laws in Champagne are. The wine is deliciously butterscotchy and exotically rich with tons of browned butter and créme-brûlée tones. Big and impressive, as you would expect from this warm year. In regular bottle a bit up and down but in magnums really great and consistent.

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One of our members catched the cork with …. This bottles was disgorged à la Volée. But as You can see it went wrong … 

1961 DIEBOLT- VALLOIS ‘VINOTHÈQUE’ | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 97(97)

TASTING NOTE I’ve been present several times when a producer has opened a new bottle of the same vintage because he wasn’t satisfied with the first. Jacques, on the other hand, is the only one I know who opens a new bottle in order to show how bad the wine can be! At its best the ’61 has a fantastic, almost Pinot-like nose of truffles, decaying autumn leaves, barrels, and boiled vegetables, while the other he opened was more like mushroom soup. The structure was impressive in both, however.

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1953 DIEBOLT- VALLOIS ‘VINOTHÈQUE’ | Cramant | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 96(96)

TASTING NOTE This bottles was disgorged à la Volée. One of the best Champagnes I have tasted. Drunk newly disgorged, undosed, in Diebolt’s cellar. The wine was made in oak barrels without malolactic fermentation. The color was brilliantly, beautifully golden. The bubbles continued to wind their way up the glass two hours after the wine was poured. The nose was given the maximum numbers of points! The entire wine was like a grand symphony by Sibelius—full of sadness, joy, nature, and romance. The freshness and playful ease, combined with the wine’s length, were exceptional, but the nose’s complexity was probably the most impressive part of the Champagne: coffee, treacle, bergamot oil, brioche, walnuts, limes, and passion fruit were the clearest aromas. A disappointment at the Millennium Tasting. Large bottle variation.

15 champagne lovers | 10 champagnes | 10 vintages | 150 glasses

 

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