The Champagne house Veuve Clicquot might just be the region’s most recognizable name. Its distinctive yellow/orange label is the envy of every marketing grad across the world as Veuve Clicquot’s brand identity is unsurpassed. Now a part of luxury brand owner LMVH, Veuve Clicquot is a marketing powerhouse within a marketing powerhouse.
The term “veuve” is French for widow, as the founder’s daughter-in-law, widowed at the tender age of 27, took on the management of the business.
She managed the business brilliantly, including introducing many innovations to Champagne production that are now adopted by every major Champagne House. She was the first to make a Champagne wine from a single vintage (the 1810 in fact). She was also the first to make a rose Champagne by adding still red wine to a white sparkling blend.
The standard-bearer at Veuve Clicquot is what the house refers to as “Carte Jaune” or yellow label. This is their non-vintage brut, recognized around the world as a symbol of the celebratory nature of Champagne. Carte Jaune makes up 88% of the house’s production.
Also produced at this house is a rose, and in certain years a millésime or wine from a single vintage, and only in exceptional years, their tete du cuvee, La Grand Dame.
Innovation has always been a part of the fabric of Veuve Clicquot. A recent innovation is their creation of Veuve Clicquot Extra Brut Extra Old (“EBEO”). First launched in 2017 EBEO is a special multi-vintage blend, made from very select reserve wines. Reserve wines are vins claires (still wines, not yet having gone through the secondary fermentation that converts them to sparkling wines) that the house holds back to blend together with future vintages.
The use of reserve wines in non-vintage blends is common in Champagne.
A typical non-vintage blend will have a base year that will form the dominant part of the blend. Added to the base year wine will be a small portion of vins claires from previous vintages, selected for blending to maintain a house style that remains consistent over time. Reserve wines, by virtue of their age, will bring an added complexity to the blend. Reserve wines typically will go back 5 or 6 vintages, and quality producers will go back even farther. Veuve Clicquot, being a larger house with a huge backer can afford to not sell all of their wines and hold back a greater amount of reserves. The Carte Jaune currently in the marketplace is based on the 2013 vintage (52%) and has 48% reserve wine from the 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 1999 vintages. A greater portion and greater depth of reserve wines than most other NV Bruts out n the market.
EBEO takes reserve wines to a new level. There is no base vintage, it is 100% reserve wines, from six different vintages, from 2010 going all the way back to 1988. Each of the reserve wines comes from a very strong vintage: 2009, 2008, 2002 1996 and 1988. Older reserve wines from top vintages is how you make a complex, character-driven, quality Champagne. The other facet of EBEO is that it is extra brut. The term brut refers to the amount of dosage that is added to the Champagne at the end of the bottling process. The dosage is a mixture of sugar and wine (called liqueur d’expedition) which adds texture and sweetness to the finished wine. The amount of sugar can be as much as 50 grams+ per litre for a very sweet Champagne known as “Doux” all the way down to zero grams per litre. Brut is the most common designation which makes a dry Champagne that has good texture and will have between 6 and 12 grams per litre. Carte Jaune is a Brut Champagne and will usually have 10 grams per litre of dosage. EBEO is Extra Brut, being a style that has 0 to 6 grams per litre of dosage. EBEO has just 3 grams per litre. The drier style allows the complex character of all those reserve wines to really show through.
Each of the reserve wines chosen for EBEO were of a single grape variety from a single sub-region within Champagne. The 1988 came from Cramant, the 1996 from the Aube, 2006 from Verzy, the 2008 from Villes-Marmery, the 2009 from Ay and the 2010 from Ville-Dommage. The final blend is 55% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier. EBEO is a special wine and represents less than 1% of total production. In terms of quality, we feel this is a big step up from their Carte Jaune. Perhaps not quite at the level of their La Grande Dame but no where near that in price either.
Golden straw colour. Lots of baking bread notes on the nose. Apple and citrus flavours gain added complexity from the honey and almond notes. This wine has wonderful texture, a smooth richness that is defined and precise. Gentle mousse (4.5 bar) adds to the sensation of smoothness.