Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 1998
Vintage Sparkling Wine from Champagne, France
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.
Australian Wine Companion - "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."
Wine & Spirits - "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."
Connoisseurs' Guide - "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."
Wine Spectator - "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."
Wine Enthusiast - "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."
International Wine Cellar - "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."
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Veuve Clicquot Winery
The House was founded by Philippe Clicquot in 1772. Since its inception, Veuve Clicquot has been a specialist in Champagnes based on Pinot Noir, especially Rosé. In 1803, François Clicquot was married to Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin. Madame Clicquot was widowed just two years later. Veuve Clicquot (Veuve means widow in French) took over her husband's business. In 1810, the house took the name Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. The way that she ran her company, from risky overseas ventures to startling technological innovations, changed Champagne forever. Her motto is still the guiding principle of our company – "Only one quality – the finest."
In 1816, Mme. Clicquot invented the process, called rémuage or riddling, that removes the yeast from the bottle. She used holes cut in her kitchen table to perfect the method of slowly tilting and turning the bottles to gather the spent yeast in the neck of the bottle. Once settled it could be removed by freezing the neck in a brine of salt and water, removing it, and recorking.
The company was taken public in 1963, and merged with Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey in 1986. Today, Jacques Peters is the chief winemaker at Veuve Clicquot, and was appointed cellar master in 1985. He has undertaken an ambitious program since this time to upgrade the grape sources, improve the vineyards, and improve the cellars and production facilities. 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.
Customer ReviewsSign In to Add Your Review44.2 out of 5 stars
3 ratings, 1 with reviewC-Bass - Shawnee Mission, KS511/19/2011This kind of champagne is my favorite. Full-bodied, pinot noir dominated. Is amazing now, but will last at least for another 10 years or so. Cannot wait for the 2002.LRC - San Francisco, CA23/22/2012Louisiana wine buff - Aurora, CO511/18/2011