Veuve Clicquot has launched the 2004 vintage of its top cuvée La Grande Dame – with chef de cave Dominique Demarville suggesting that future vintages could contain a much higher proportion of Pinot Noir.
La Grande Dame is Veuve Clicquot’s prestige cuvée. The first vintage, of which only 6,000 bottles were made, was 1962, and the first to be released commercially was 1966, launched in 1972.
The 2004 is a blend of 69% Pinot Noir and 31% Chardonnay from eight grands crus: Aÿ, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Verzy, Verzenay, Avize, Oger and Le Mesnil sur Oger.
The reserve wine is kept on the lees, with no filtration and no battonage, in concrete tanks. The dosage in all Grande Dame vintages is 9g/l.
Demarville said 2004 had ‘perfect ripening conditions – it was not a difficult year to manage’. It was also an abundant year with harvest almost twice the average size.
Launching the wine in London yesterday, Demarville set out his ambitions for Pinot Noir, a grape he wanted to ‘go deeper with’, as he put it, by upping the content in La Grande Dame.
To this end he and his team have been experimenting for the last two harvests with small parcels of Pinot Noir from the best terroirs, vinifying them separately in small 1000-litre tanks at the renovated Veuve Clicquot winery at Verzy.
‘We’re just at the beginning,’ Demarville told Decanter.com. ‘We’ve identified the best parcels from the four grands crus Aÿ, Bouzy, Verzy and Verzenay and we are vinifying them separately to see the terroir effect.’
The experiment started with the 2010 vintage. Demarville said that in the future there may well be a Grande Dame with a Pinot Noir content of more than 90%. Whether it would ever get up to 100%, a Blanc de Noirs, he was doubtful: ‘I am a big defender of blending in Champagne.’
The next vintage of La Grande Dame will be the 2006, followed by the 2008.
La Grande Dame 2004 retails for £135, while La Grande Dame Rosé is £250.
Written by Adam Lechmere