Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 1996
Vintage Sparkling Wine from Champagne, France
La Grande Dame 1996 is a pale gold-green color with brilliant reflections that are typical of the vintage. Effervescence is delicate and extremely steady.
On the nose this wine is exceptionally elegant. Dominant floral notes (mint and white flowers) mingle with hints of fresh fruit (citrus fruits, fresh almonds). As it undergoes aeration, riper notes of vanilla and nougat come to the fore, giving a pleasant roundness to the wine. At this stage a typical Chardonnay characteristic, crisp elegance, clearly prevails over aromatic strength.
In the mouth, the Pinot Noir reveals its true personality. Fruity notes (white peaches, grapefruit and bergamot) dominate an energetic attack on the palate, which is prolonged by the structure and roundedness of the wine. The balance, a combination of freshness and vigour, is ideal. With a finish that is extremely persistent and clean, mineral notes add force to this noble wine.
The Wine Advocate - "Tightly-packed with notes of citrus oil, orange rind, white peach, honeysuckle, and brioche, the medium to full-bodied 1996 La Grande Dame Brut should age well for 15-20 years. Crisp, fresh, and backward, it is another brilliant example from the exquisite 1996 vintage."
International Wine Cellar - "Deep, highly complex aromas of citrus skin, nutmeg, porcini mushroom, toasted almond and clove. Rich, dry and impressively deep; superconcentrated and oily. A chewy, spicy Champagne that seemed to grow fresher as it opened in the glass. Really explosive on the aftertaste, finishing with a clinging quality and powerful spicy, nutty flavors. A major mouthful of Champagne, at its best at the dinner table. Displays the combination of high ripeness and high acidity of this vintage at its best. This thick, rich, very powerful wine is still a bit youthfully disorganized and will be even better for a few years of additional aging. One of the standouts of my recent tastings.
Wine Spectator - "A touch cheesy in aroma, this settles into apple, peach and hazelnut flavors. On the sharp side, with a grainy texture that emerges on the finish. A powerful, dry Champagne, with a biscuitlike aftertaste. Needs food. Drink now through 2020."
Wine Enthusiast - "Selected from the eight grand cru villages in which Madame owned vineyards, this lean, youthful wine is delicious now but could use additional bottle age to broaden out. Toasty and citrusy, there’s a lot of fruit here, yet it retains a great sense of elegance.
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Veuve Clicquot Winery
When he founded his wine merchant business under the label "Clicquot" in 1772, Philippe Clicquot had a clear ambition: cross all borders. He conquered Europe and then Russia in 1780, followed by the United States in 1782. He was joined at the head of the House in 1798 by his son, François Clicquot, who had recently married Barbe Ponsardin. Seven years later, following the untimely death of François Clicquot, his young widow ("veuve" in French), just 27 years old, took over the family business.
Over the course of her lifetime, Madame Clicquot developed three of the most important innovations in Champagne, that remain in practice today. She demonstrated her innovative spirit in 1810 by producing the first vintage wine in Champagne. In 1816, she invented the riddling table as a way to clarify her champagne, and by doing so, she improved both the quality and finesse of the wines. Never one to rest on her laurels, in 1818 Madame Clicquot created the first rose champagne made through assemblage, a method where white wines are blended with red wines.
Faithful to the values of creativity and innovation passed on by Madame Clicquot, the Maison marked its bottles with its first yellow label in 1877, making the brand distinctive and instantly recognizable. Today, Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label is the signature champagne of the House, and distinguishes itself through the dominance of Pinot Noir, which gives strength, complexity and elegance to the champagne. View all Veuve Clicquot 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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