Champagne Fine & Rare

It’s not often do you get the chance to taste top Champagne in large formats, from older vintages and different varietal blends – The Sommelier Collective x Champagne Henriot tasting had it all. Members that attended had a real education in how smart Champagne ages and the effect of terroir and bottle size has on its potential to last.

Champagne Henriot’s trelissed vines on the Montagne de Reims

Few Champagne houses can boast being run by the same family for eight generations but The Sommelier Collective was lucky enough to tempt Champagne Henriot to give its members an exclusive tasting of fine and rare Champagnes dating back to 1989.

Cyrille Harmel, european director, from Champagne Henriot, flew in specially for the tasting and members were enlightened by his engaging style and vast knowledge about what is happening in Champagne right now. “Terroir and site-specificity”, he explained, “are becoming more and more important in the Champagne region and the wines in the line up are testament to that fact.”

From the different villages, slopes and crus guests got a chance to delve into the complexities of site selection and the effect that has on the resulting wine. “It’s not just about blending vintages in each village, be it Ay, Verzenay, Avenay Val d’Or in Montagne de Reims and Avize, Chouilly on the Côtes de Blancs, each plot adds its own particular component to the wine,” Harmel said, explaining that “this is perhaps one of the most interesting developments in Champagne right now and an aspect that everyone is concentrating on.”

“Terroir and site-specificity are becoming more and more important in the Champagne region, each plot adds its own particular component to the wine. this is perhaps one of the most interesting developments in Champagne right now”

Cyrille Harmel, Champagne Henriot

Another current buzz topic, and an outstanding feature of Henriot champagnes, is the use each house makes of their Reserve Perpetuelle. “We believe that we were one of the very first houses to start placing such importance on the use of Reserve Perpetuelle back in the 1970s,” Harmel went on. “We want to give definition, depth and a distinct style to our wines. For Henriot it is very important to consider the structure of our blends. Our Brut Souverain and Blanc de Blancs for example is made up of 20% of Vin de Reserve (minimum 5 years old), a further 20% is Reserve Perpetuelle and the remaining 60% of the blend is wine from the particular year. As all of our wines are made in stainless steel the Vin de Reserve and Reserve Perpetuelle are crucial to the house style.”

“Time is an ally for Maison Henriot, at each stage of the elaboration of Henriot Champagnes. Indeed, we give time to the observation of the vineyard for the sake of precision, to the development of the wines for their expressions, to the blending for their creation, and to the ageing of the cuvées for their construction.”

Alice Tétienne, Cellar Master of Maison Henriot

It’s not often that sommeliers have a chance to taste such a wide range of champagne styles from different vintages and in smaller and larger formats, especially in pairs, from one house. This tasting was a spectacular example that demonstrated the many facets of Champagne and its diversity, tasting aged wines out of 75cl, magnum and jeroboam. Such a treat!

The champagnes we tasted:

  • Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain (base wine 2016)
  • Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain (base wine 2002 in Jeroboam)
  • Champagne Henriot Blanc de Blancs (base wine 2014)
  • Champagne Henriot Blanc de Blancs (base wine 2008 in Jeroboam)
  • Champagne Henriot Rosé NV in magnum
  • Champagne Henriot Rosé Millésimé 2012
  • Champagne Henriot Millésime 2012
  • Champagne Henriot Cuvée Hemera 2006
  • Champagne Henriot Millésime 1989 in Jeroboam
Brut Souverain NV & Jeroboam

Henriot Brut Souverain (base wine 2016) & Henriot Brut Souverain (base wine 2002 jeroboam)
About 45% Pinot Noir – 40% Chardonnay – 15% Meunier
Sourced from 29 crus
60% of wines of the year (base vintage)
40% of reserve wines (including our blend reserve)
At least 3 years of ageing

“You can clearly see that the Reserve Perpetuelle gives a “patin” to the wine, softens it and brings depth. None of our wines are oak aged and they are kept on lees for longer than the minimum amount of time permitted by the CIVC.” Cyrille Harmel

Henriot Blanc de Blancs (base 2014) & Henriot Blanc de Blancs (base wine 2008 jeroboam)
100% Chardonnay
Sourced from 12 crus
60% of wines of the year (base vintage)
40% of reserve wines (including our perpetual reserve)
At least 4 years of ageing

“On the eastern side of the Montagne de Reims there is a small village called Trépail, planted with 60% Chardonnay. 40 years ago the temperature was not as it is today and Chardonnay did not ripen here but today we are happy to include this in the blend because it brings freshness.” Cyrille Harmel

Blancs de Blanc NV & Blancs de Blanc Jeroboam
Henriot Rosé magnum

Henriot Rosé in magnum aged minmally for 3 years on the lees with a high proportion of Premier & Gran Cru grapes

“The rosé NV is fresher, lighter – we do not use Reserve Perpetuelle in this wine but we do age longer on the lees and the proportion of Premier and Gran Crus grapes in the blend is high in comparison to other houses.” Cyrille Harmel

Henriot Millésime 2012
54% Chardonnay – 46% Pinot Noir
Sourced from 6 crus: Trépail, Mailly-Champagne, Verzenay, Avenay Val d’Or
in Montagne de Reims and Avize, Chouilly in Côtes des Blancs
100% Premiers and Grands Crus
At least 8 years of ageing

“2012 was a very famous vintage in Champagne, compared with 2008, it has the richness and a linear acidity that will give it the potential to age more than the 2008 – which is saying something when you consider everyone is raving about the 2008 right now.” Cyrille Harmel

Henriot Vintage 2012
Henriot Rosé 2012

Henriot Rosé 2012 in jeroboam
About 60% Pinot Noir – 40% Chardonnay – 100% Premiers & Grands Crus
70% of wines of the year
30% of reserve wines
About 8% of Pinot Noir still red wine
At least 7 years of ageing

“The 2012 vintage is more structured and you can perceive tannins. Of course, the hotter the year the more tannins you get in the wine. But the nose on the vintage is floral – roses, violets. It is aged at least 7 years on the lees.” Cyrille Harmel

Henriot Cuvée Hemera 2006
50% Chardonnay – 50% Pinot Noir
Crus: Verzy, Verzenay, Mailly-Champagne in Montagne de Reims
and Avize, Chouilly, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in Côte des Blancs
100% Grands Crus
At least 12 years of ageing

“Hydric stress was very high in 2006, it was a very hot vintage after a cold, wet start. This wine is only released in top years from these six villages, which are fermented separately and then blended dependent upon the year. Talking about terroir: Verzy brings power, Verzenay gives elegance, softness, texture, Mailly-Champagne brings structure. Avize, Le Mesnil and Chouilly generosity and maturity.” Cyrille Harmel

Cuvée Hemera 2006
Henriot 1989 Jeroboam

Henriot Millésime 1989 Jeroboam
57% Pinot Noir – 43% Chardonnay
6 crus : Verzy, Verzenay, Avenay, Trépail in Montagne de Reims
and Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger, Oger in Côte des Blancs
100% Premiers and Grands Crus

“This was a warm year but there is incredible freshness still on this wine. The fruit profile has changed to give this wine a savoury character on the nose but the acidity on the palate is still lemony and zesty. A freshness is a real hallmark of the house style.” Cyrille Harmel

To find out more about www.champagne-henriot.com

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