Henriot Cuvee des Enchanteleurs 1996
Vintage Sparkling Wine from Champagne, France
On the eye: Radiant, warm and limpid yellow-gold. Fine, persistent effervescence. On the nose: The nose is dominated by aromas of fresh fruit and slightly candied citrus fruit, followed by floral notes that offer an airy, discreet and pleasant bouquet. On the palate: Lots of freshness, a sign of remarkable purity and great finesse. The wine shows excellent maturity, revealed gradually on the palate: dried fruit, caramel, spicy flavours.
The name "Enchanteleur" borne by this rare wine refers to the cellar workers in the days when vinification was carried out only in barrels. Their work consisted in particular of piling up the casks on wooden beams. It was said that they "put the casks on chantiers (gantries)", that they "enchantelaient"... They traditionally enjoyed the privilege of making for themselves a small Champagne cuvée produced from the finest wines.
So as to enhance the remarkable character of the 1996 vintage, Champagne Henriot chose to add Pinot Noir's power to the elegance of Chardonnay (in the majority). Supplies came mainly from among six of Champagne's most prestigious Grands Crus: Mailly Champagne, Verzy and Verzenay on the Montagne de Reims, and Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize and Chouilly in the Côte des Blancs.
Wine Spectator - "Tight-grained, with an immediate impression of the sea before forest floor and citrus notes take over. This is bright and fresh, with plenty of spice, toast and candied berry flavors, backed by a firm structure. The finish just keeps going. Best from 2012 through 2040."
Wine Enthusiast - "With all the extreme intensity of this vintage, this wine brings even more. The start of cookie yeast and toast character, a vibrant mineral texture, hints of spice, green herbs and a final white peach flavor. It is still young, just keep aging."
International Wine Cellar - "Vivid yellow-gold. Kaleidoscopic aromas of citrus fruits, poached pear, mango, lees and licorice, with slow-building florality. Supple, palate-coating orchard and exotic fruit flavors are complicated by notes of herbs and buttered toast, with a smoky quality in the background. Seems younger than it did last year, showing excellent finishing clarity and persistent smoke and spice character. This really won't let go of the palate, which is fine by me. I'd still hold this."
The Wine Advocate - "The 1996 Brut Cuvee des Enchanteleurs is one of the softer, more forward 1996s readers are likely to come across. Smoke, cantaloupe, pear, flowers, mint, sweet baking spices and apricots are some of the notes that emerge from this layered, sublime Champagne. The finish is long and polished. The 1996 Enchanteleurs is drinking beautifully today, but also appears to have the stuffing to age gracefully for at least another decade. Disgorged: June, 2008. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019."
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Founded in Reims in 1808, Champagne Henriot celebrated its 200th birthday in 2008; joining the very exclusive circle of independent 200-year old family owned and managed champagne houses.
Over the years Champagne Henriot has cultivated a unique style of its own, guided only by the pursuit of the rich, pure expression of Chardonnay. Strict grape requirements enable Henriot to highlight the minerality and precision of their vineyards, while the use of malolactic fermentation, a high percentage of reserve wines in their cuvées and extended lees aging result in wines of great expression, elegance and depth. "Time is our ally and patience our secret" says Joseph Henriot. "They are the fundamental elements to our success."
Today, the Henriot family's expertise is backed not only by their storied history in Champagne but also in their celebrated triumphs in both Burgundy and Chablis with Bouchard Père & Fils, William Fèvre and Villa Ponciago. View all Henriot Wines
About ChampagneView a map of Champagne wineries Champagne is both a region and a method. The wines come from the northernmost vineyards in France and the name conjures an image like no other can. An 18th Century Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon is said to be the first to blend both varietals and vintages, making good wines not only great, but also special and unique to their winemaker. Today, nearly 75% of Champagne produced is non-vintage and made up by a blend of several years' harvests.
All Champagnes must be made by a strictly controlled process called "Méthode Champenoise." The grapes are pressed and fermented for the first time. The blending phase follows and the wine is bottled and temporarily capped. Then comes the second fermentation, a blend of sugar and yeast is added and, this time, the carbon dioxide is kept inside the bottle. This process leaves a great deal of sediment that is extracted through a process of "racking" or "riddling." The bottles are progressively turned upside down until all the sediment is collected in the neck. The necks are then frozen and the sediment is "disgorged." After this phase, the winemaker may decide to add sugar to sweeten the wine. Finally the wine is corked. Some wines move through this process in a couple of months, while others are aged after the riddling phase to build greater complexity and depth.
Champagnes range from dry, "Brut," to slightly sweet, "Demi-Sec." Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are used in Champagne blends, but "Blancs de Noirs" is made entirely of Pinot Noir and "Blancs de Blanc" is made from only Chardonnay grapes. The high acidity achieved by the northern location is crucial to the balance and structure of these wines.
Not every year is a "vintage" declared. In years when it is not, the wines are blended with the produce from other years to create the non-vintage blend, the house style that remains constant from year to year. But in a great vintage year, champagne houses will bottle by itself the unblended year's produce, and use other portions as "reserve" wines to supplement and enrich the non-vintage blend. A vintage champagne can age quite gracefully, and gain complexity just like any other great still wine.
Mild cheeses like gruyere and shellfish pair nicely with Champagne. Also, oysters and Champagne is a popular combination. A full-flavored vintage Champagne can go with almost any meal.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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