Champagnes have been getting drier across the board, and Veuve Clicquot is throwing its weight behind the trend with the launch of its limited edition Extra Brut Extra Old. This innovative ultra-dry, non-vintage cuvée is blended exclusively from the house’s exceptional library of reserve wines – one of the largest in Champagne – and is for cellar master Dominique Demarville something of a celebration of this immense inventory.
Shaped by much more mature wines than are usually found in an Extra Brut, the first release (£69) is a blend of 47 per cent Pinot Noir, 27 per cent Chardonnay and 26 per cent Pinot Meunier, based entirely on reserves from 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 1996 and 1988 vintages, with 90 per cent of the blend made up of the first three vintages. All six wines were aged for at least three years in vats, before being blended in late 2013 and left to mature in bottle on the lees for a further three years, lending the resulting cuvée a greater degree of complexity and depth.
Demarville says he made a point of favouring wines with a riper, more full-bodied character that naturally required very little sweetening – the resulting ultra-dry champagne has a dosage of just 3g/litre, around a third of the average Brut. Demarville also tinkered with the bottling pressure, lowering it from the usual 6 bar to 4.5 bar, to achieve a noticeably fine-textured effervescence.
Bright gold, with a lively mousse, this cuvée pops with tangy aromas of pickled lemon, grapefruit peel and toasty, yeasty biscuit. On the palate it’s vigorous and fresh, with lots of lemon and lime and a really striking salinity; there’s not an ounce of fat on this Extra Brut, but it still has great length, with the more mature wines giving it hints of toast and girolles that emerge with time. Savoury and invigorating, it’s an exciting new addition to the category.