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Professional Ratings: 97 Australian Wine Companion, 95 Wine & Spirits, 93 Connoisseurs' Guide, 92 Wine Spectator, 92 Wine Enthusiast
Region: Champagne, France
Varietal: Vintage Sparkling Wine
Other Info: Collectible Wines, Great Wine Gift
Alcohol By Volume: 12.5%
Item no. 92241
Blend: 64% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay
La Grande Dame 1998 has a pale gold color with jade glints. The wine is crystal clear, with unbelievably fine bubbles.
On the first nose, typical Chardonnay characteristics come to the fore, with the arrival of floral and mineral aromas (acacia, ferns, chalk). By agitating the wine, scents of candied fruit (citrus fruits, apricots, quince) and sweet almond emerge, to reappear later in the mouth. After rotating the wine for a few minutes more, rare notes such as peaty malt, tobacco and delicate herbs, are gradually unveiled.
This aromatic, impressively complex bouquet is confirmed in the mouth. On the palate, the wine is clear-cut and pure, perfectly balanced with a delightful silky smoothness. La Grande Dame 1998, with its lace-like construction, has a long, lively, and structured finish.
This wine has unbelievable aging potential. The 1998 vintage of La Grande Dame, the quintessence of the Veuve Clicquot style, reaches a peak of refinement, without losing its legendary strength produced by a blend including nearly two-thirds of Pinot Noir.
First made in 1969 to honour Nicole-Barbe Clicquot Ponsardin, the 27-year-old widow (veuve) who had to take control of the House after the sudden death of her husband. It is a blend of two-thirds pinot noir, one-third chardonnay, almost entirely sourced from the 382 hectares of estate vineyards (dwarfed by the grapes supplied each year by 1200 growers). Full gold, it is still remarkably youthful, reflecting its long time on lees. There are plenty of brioche and dried fruit undertones, but it is its vibrantly fresh, lilting finish and glorious aftertaste that inspires.
The contrast of depth and brightness, or intensity and weightlessness creates a sense of harmonic resonance in this wine. All the aromatics are potent, from the scent of rising bread dough to the red skin of an apple, all the corresponding flavors rich yet refreshing. The firmness of the acidity seems to add briskness to the mousse, leaving a clean, chiseled impression of the chalk soils in which this grew. Once in a while, there is a young beauty who will age into a more profound older beauty: La Grande Dame is part of that rare breed.
64% Pinot Noir; 36% Chardonnay. Seemingly a bit livelier than the typical Grande Dame, but still a rich wine based on its Pinot Noir heritage, it combines an admirably strong mousse with plenty of acidity and a dried toffee, nutty overlay of burgeoning complexity. Lovely.
There's plenty of finesse in this sleek Champagne, along with an airy texture and loads of grip. Graphite, lemon, toast and mineral aromas and flavors prevail, and this takes on a chalky edge on the lingering aftertaste. Best from 2010 through 2028.
A superbly ripe Champagne that has all the open generosity of the 1998 vintage. Peach and apricot aromas are followed by flavors of hazelnuts, honey and spices. Of course, it is still very young, and, like all vintages of La Grande Dame, it will age for many years.
Pale yellow with a steady bead. Orange, lemon, apple, smoky minerals and yeast on the nose. Fleshy orchard fruit flavors coat the palate and are energized by dusty minerals and a fresh jasmine quality. An energetic version of this bottling, with good finishing grip and lingering floral qualities. This gained weight with air: I'd hold off on popping the cork for at least another three years.