Champagne de Castelnau has just celebrated its 100th anniversary with the launch of its first ever prestige cuvée, Hors Catégorie, at the Square Restaurant in London. Michael Edwards reports.
Just 3,500 numbered bottles of the new prestige cuvée bottling called ‘Hors Catégorie’ have been made and has been crafted in an elegant, linear style.
As a multi-vintage champagne, the blend comes from a third each of 2008, 2009 and 2010, dominated by Pinot Noir (55%) partly aged in local non-invasive Argonne oak.
Founded in 1916 by a group of growers on the Montagne de Reims, they named their Champagne after an heroic First World War general, Edouard de Castelnau.
Heirs to a 100 year-old tradition, Castelnau’s growers now farm over 2,200 acres of long-lived crus mainly in the south east corner of the Montagne around Bouzy and Trepail; Pinot Noir country for sure but as deservedly known for an ampler style Chardonnay and Meunier which are more resistant to heat wave vintages.
The house specialises in a rare Brut Réserve non-vintage, long-aged on lees for up to six years.
At the Square Restaurant, we tasted the Réserve at maturing stages of its development from different base years: crisp mineral 2013; exquisite 2012; generous 2009; the current Brut Réserve, base wine 2007, a fine year, ready to drink now. They’re no slouch at vintage Champagne either, still with the legendary 2002 in stock, rich, fleshy, reined by an enduring freshness.
The discreet Argonne oak gives scents of delicate spice, vanilla, toast then red stone fruits, smoke and cocoa.