- 2013 - 2023
- Case size
Wine Advocate, August 2019,
From a recently released bottle disgorged in 2018, the 1997 Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil Brut is showing very well indeed, offering up aromas of citrus oil, crushed chalk, white flowers, warm bread and iodine that are appreciably more youthful than the more mature dried fruit tones that readers will find in bottles of the original disgorgement. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, tensile and incisive, with superb concentration, chalky structure and a long, searingly mineral finish. The 2018 disgorgement saw 3.5 grams per liter dosage, somewhat less than the original release. While the 1996 has the edge, I doubt that, 20 years ago, anyone could have imagined how close the 1997 and 1996 would be as they approach maturity. 95/100
Champagne, the world's greatest sparkling wine, needs little introduction - with imitations produced in virtually every country capable of growing grapes, including such unlikely candidates as India and China. The Champagne region, to the north of Paris, has the most northerly vineyards in France, with vines grown on slopes with a southerly exposure to maximise sunlight. The soil is chalky, providing an excellent balance of drainage and water retention. The key to the wine is in the cellar - the bubbles result from a second fermentation in the bottle and the rich toasty flavours in great Champagne come from extended bottle ageing on the yeasty lees. Until the eighteenth century, the wines produced in the Champagne area were light acidic white wines, with no hint of sparkle. However glass and closure technology developed at that time and it was not long before Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Hautvilliers, started experimenting with blends and produced the first recognisable champagne. In a world accustomed to still wines, the advent of champagne was almost a flop. It was saved when it became fashionable at the French court as a result of Louis XV's mistress Madame de Pompadour commenting "Champagne isthe only wine that lets a woman remain beautiful after she has drunk it." And the rest is history, with famous (or infamous) champagne lovers including Casanova, Dumas, Wagner, Winston Churchill, James Bond and Coco Chanel.