Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 1998
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... View More
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.
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.
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.