You may know Veuve Clicquot best for its iconic yellow label, its Veuve Clicquot Rich label made for mixology, or perhaps its rosé, known historically as the world’s first ever blended rosé — invented by Madame Clicquot herself in 1775. Launched earlier in the year in Europe, the heritage label made history again with its unique, double aged, ultra-premium cuvée, the Extra Brut Extra Old. It’s yet to be available for retail, but Hongkongers will have a limited time to try it in the city before it gets properly released.
The new champagne is Maison Veuve’s first ever “low dosage” champagne, a wine with the lowest amount of sugar the house has ever made, with three grams per litre — three times fewer than the signature yellow label. “The new creation is based on the idea to create a very low dosage champagne, and to use a new approach for blending, or to double age the champagne,” cellar master Dominique Demarville tells us before an event unveiling the new champagne to the press in Hong Kong.
He explains, “Champagnes are typically aged on the lees in bottles after blending. Our yellow label flagship is aged for three years. This champagne, Extra Brut Extra Old is aged on the lees like other champagnes, but also before the bottling, each component of the blend is aged in the vats, at least three years before being blended, and then aged another three years (in bottles). This is the first time we’ve done this, and I believe today, this is unique in (the world of) champagne.”
The Extra Brut Extra Old blends together an interesting amalgamation of reserve wines, including six vintages from between 1988 and 2010. It uses grape varieties (47% Pinot Noir, 27% Chardonnay, and 26% Pinot Meunier) that showcase the house style, but also help develop a greater richness and complexity.
What does the double aging do to the wine? “More complexity,” says Demarville. “It’s more intense, with more toasty, brioche and gingerbread flavours and fruitiness at the nose. The aging before bottling increases the complexity of the flavours, and at the same time, aging on the lees will bring more creaminess to the champagne. There’s a very delicate creaminess at the beginning, and also a lot of purity, a beautiful dryness. It’s very refreshing.”
Creamy is absolutely correct, and the fine effervescence together with its peachy, lightly spicy flavours make it a great match for delicate flavours like seafood. As Demarville tells us, it’s a champagne made for connoisseurs who like to enjoy a bottle with refined dishes and delicate foods such as fish, seafood, truffle and cheese.
Extra Brut Extra Old is an exquisite example of the house’s newest innovations to achieve new territories in texture and and flavour. “My goal was to achieve a perfect balance between this creaminess of the texture, and the purity of the acidity,” says Demarville.
According to Demarville, the current major trends in the world of champagne include low dosage champagnes, champagne mixology, as well as rosé — “good for summer, good at the beach and by the pool.” At the same time, the the signature yellow label continues to thrive: “The yellow label is getting more and more well known over the world. We continue to develop the signature of the house,” says Demarville.
As for what’s next for Veuve Clicquot, the chef de cave’s got exciting adventures on his agenda. Following the 2010 discovery of Veuve Clicquot champagne from 1839 found in a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea, the house also decided to experiment with bottles aged in cellars versus those aged under the sea. “Three years ago in June 2014, we had the idea to put some bottles again in the sea. This June, we will take these bottles out from the sea and compare them by tasting with bottles from our cellars, which are from the same lot, to see what the differences are between aging methods.” For something extra old and extra unique, we’ll have to wait for the next big reveal.
In a partnership between champagne and furniture houses, Extra Brut Extra Old is now available for tasting through 14 June at Timothy Oulton Gallery, 17 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2161 1742; retail will be available for HK$700 from Avize Wine Cellar among other premium wine sellers thereafter.