The SOMM Journal

December 2017 / January 2018

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Page 12 of 124

12 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2017/2018 { champagne } LAURENT FRESNET IS answerable for the reputation of 200-year-old Champagne Henriot, one of the few remaining family-owned houses. As Cellar Master, he guarantees the style, but he has the ability to craft its luminous fresh - ness thanks to Henriot's independent status. From the best terroirs in the chalky slopes of the Côte des Blancs, two-thirds of the wines are sourced from Premier and Grand Cru vineyards. Chardonnay is the primary varietal star for this small-production marque, which uses a high proportion of reserve wines in the blends that enjoy long aging on lees. We met up with Fresnet to taste through an exceptional array of wines and were charmed by them all. Here is a glimpse of just two of the outstanding Champagnes in the House's pursuit of exceptional quality. They are indulgent, with tiny, well-behaved bubbles that lift on the palate and release a garden of fragrance, freshness, and flowers. Declaration of Independence CHAMPAGNE HENRIOT'S LAURENT FRESNET HAS THE TIME AND FREEDOM TO CRAFT A UNIQUE HOUSE STYLE by Meridith May PHOTO COURTESY OF CHAMPAGNE HENRIOT PHOTO COURTESY OF CHAMPAGNE HENRIOT PHOTO COURTESY OF CHAMPAGNE HENRIOT Champagne Henriot Cellar Master Laurent Fresnet "perpetuates the unique style of the house." Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain NV ($45) offers an expressive style of Chardonnay with a proportion of Pinot Noir, mostly from the Montagne de Reims. Five percent Pinot Meunier adds fruity notes to the straw gold– hued wine. Aromas of pink grapefruit and white flowers are delicate. Soft, caressing bubbles carry notes of pear, honeysuckle, cherries, and peach. Aged for a minimum of three years. More than 25 crus are assembled and the wine's composition changes from year to year. Up to 20% reserve wines from different vintages come from the Henriot library, which retains one of Champagne's largest percentages of reserve wines. Champagne Henriot Cuve 38 ($599) is bottled in 1,000 limited-edition mag- nums. This Blanc de Blancs is a per petual reserve of vintages, from 1990 to 2009, from the Grand Cru Côte de Blancs vineyards of Mesnil- sur-Oger, Chouilly, Avize, and Oger. A low dosage of less than 5g per liter makes for a dry palate of brioche, banana walnut bread, slate, fresh butter, and lemon blossom. The fragrance is alluring, with a deep magnolia-blossom aromatic panel that is a paradigm to the leaner, yet quite expressive, palate. Aged five years in bottle before release.

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