Veuve Clicquot has reintroduced cask ageing for some of its wines, chef de cave Dominique Demarville announced at the launch of the brand's 2008 vintage wines.
'When you're making a non-vintage you can use reserve wines as the spices to the flavour of the wine, but you can't do that with a vintage,' declared Demarville. 'So we started using barrels to act as spices to increase the depth of the vintage. The aim isn't to create a wine with too much oakiness, but rather a light oakiness and larger structure.'
It's not the first time that Veuve Clicquot has used barrel ageing – the champagne house used this method as recently as the 1960s. 'Only 5% of the blend in the 2008 came from barrels – it will be a higher proportion in following vintages as the barrels age,' Demarville said.
The house has sourced 30 barrels from four different areas in France – 14 of which are 75hl and 16 being 55hl in size.
The 2008 boasts a rich character with plenty of bright, rich lemon and orange peel, a fine acidity and some lovely toasty, buttery notes. There's a waxy texture to the wine – which is ready to drink now – underneath the fine bubbles.
The Rosé 2008 also has lots of citrus to it, with round tangerine and clementine flavours vying with a bitter pink grapefruit note and more butter. A whisper of spicy white pepper and smokiness is also there – present thanks to the red wine in the blend, explained Demarville.
Both wines will be available in the UK in a couple of weeks. You may want to stock up, as the next Veuve Clicquot vintage will be the 2012, launching in four years' time.
It is Demarville's first vintage since he became the house's chef de cave in 2006.
£54.99 RRP, Moët Hennessy UK, 020 7808 4400