Veuve Clicquot chef de cave Dominique Demarville is out to showcase the elegance of Pinot Noir with major changes to the blend of the prestige cuvée Champagne La Grande Dame.

The 2008 vintage of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame will be nearly 95% Pinot Noir, compared to 53% (and 47% Chardonnay) for the 2006 vintage, launched last week. It will likely be released in 2018.

‘It is a risk we take,’ said Demarville. ‘It’s not because we want to dramatically change the style of La Grande Dame, but because we want to play the game of the elegance of Pinot Noir.’

The former Mumm cellarmaster, who joined Veuve Clicquot in 2006 but did not create the 2006 La Grande Dame, said recent viticultural developments and vineyard parcel selection in Champagne crus such as Verzy and Verzenay made the new focus possible.

‘Pinot Noir often has the image of bringing heaviness to the wine, but that is not the case in Champagne,’ said Demarville.

‘Pinot Noir in Champagne has this beautiful capacity to get full-bodied, but also [to bring] elegance to the wines.’

La Grande Dame 2006, created by Jacques Peters, Demarville’s predecessor, is the first to carry a disgorgement date on the back-label, a practice introduced by Demarville for the prestige cuvée, and also for Clicquot vintages and Cave Privée releases.

Demarville said the low acidity on paper of the 2006 concealed the wine’s freshness in the glass – the consequence of the year’s relatively high proportion of tartaric acid, as opposed to malic acid, and lower levels of potassium.

‘Acidity for me is not a question of figures, it’s a question of balance,’ he said. ‘It’s also more a question of salinity, of the saltiness in the wines.’