On this day we would like to put a spot light on great Champagnes with a strong female link.
1975 VEUVE CLICQUOT ‘LA GRANDE DAME’
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 window. The rich and honeyed La Grande Dame is a wonderful champagne, but the powerfull and nutty vintage wine often gives best value for money.
RICHARD JUHLIN TASTING NOTE The wine of this vintage! Dark, but brilliant and full of vigor. What dimensions! The nose is of an entire bakery full of pastries: dark and light chocolate and nougat are all easily definable tones. Bigger, softer, fruitier, and longer than the famous 1975 Bollinger R. D. 97(97)p
2002 POMMERY’ CUVÉE LOUISE’
The history of champagne is full of enterprising widows. Louise Pommery was already a widow at the age of 39 and she probably would have proudly smiled in her grave if she had found out that she was going to give her name to the prestige champagne that was created in her honor in 1979.
RICHARD JUHLIN TASTING NOTE Tasted next to the 99, this one appears like a young race horse headed in the wrong direction than any energy advocates. Bright young color, incredible beautiful mousse, creamy texture and elegantly sophisticated fruit. A long potent unredeemed modern aftertaste that follows all the lofty intentions of the house. Extremely young. 90(94)p
1998 LAURENT-PERRIER ‘CUVÉE ALEXANDRA’
RICHARD JUHLIN TASTING NOTE Tastes like a perfect blend of Dom Ruinart Rosé and Dom Pérignon Rosé. Great and stunning with Corton-like silkiness and pumped-up Pinot fruitiness. There are distinct tones of orange, overripe strawberries, wild raspberries, coffee, goat’s cheese, pink roses and sea in this wine. Brilliant! 92(94)p
GUY CHARLEMAGNE ‘CUVÉE MARIE JUSTINE’
This elegant firm was founded in 1892. Guy Charlemagnes son, Philippe, make some of the purest Champagnes on the market, and the Le Mesnil character is, if possible, even more tangible than in wines from the neighboring Salon. Besides six hectares in Le Mesnil they own one in Oger, 6 in Sézanne, and one in Glannes. The average age of the vines is an impressive thirtyfive, and in the vintage wines there are grapes from three locations: Vaucherot, Aillerand, and Masonière. They are using small oak barrels for some 20 percent of the harvest. The prestige wine Mesnillésime is a super-concentrated wine from 60 year old vines, where half of the wine has been through malolactic fermentation in steel tanks, while the other half is fermented in oak casks with the malic acidity intact. Mesnillésime is a wine for every serious collector. This is a grower to watch with the greatest respect in the future.
RICHARD JUHLIN TASTING NOTE A more mature and full-bodied non-vintage from Charlemagne. Certain big aromas reminds me of a mature Salon, but as a whole a bit rough and rustic even in comparison with Charlemagne’s youthful non-vintage blanc de blancs. 79(81)p
1996 COMTESSE MARIE de FRANCE
Paul Bara was a legend in Champagne. He took over the firm as a teenager sixty years ago and remembers every vintage in perfect detail. He belongs to the sixth generation to run the company since it was founded in 1833. Many major Champagne houses have approached Bara over the years to try to buy the thirty exceptional locations he controls in the village. The average age of the vines is around twenty-five years, but those that produce the vintage wines are closer to forty. The butterfly-collecting legend is, together with Barnaut and André Clouet, the most quality-obsessed grower in Bouzy. Only the first pressing is used, the wines are aged for at least four years in the cold cellar, and the yield is maintained at the lowest possible level. Despite the traditional methods, Bara’s wines have a very elegant fruitiness, which is unique in Bouzy. It is incomprehensible that he is best known for his red wine when his Champagne is of world class. His ’59 was hailed as the best Blanc de Noirs at the Millennium Tasting. The wines are still great.
RICHARD JUHLIN TASTING NOTE Comtesse Marie de France is the gem to search for. Young and alert, yet still totally without any raspiness in the acids. That aspect just feels pleasantly refreshing, like a drop of lemon on your turbot. A fine mellowness and tones of mineral, green apples and passionfruit. Very storable and harmonilus. 90(94)p