97 Points James Halliday top 100 2011
Chardonnay Pinot Noir Champagne Ay France
This exceptional wine is dominated by components of Pinot Noir from the Grands Crus at Ay, Vallee de la Marne, Verzenay and Verzy, Ambonnay and Bouzy in the Montagne de Reims. The cuvee includes a smaller component of Chardonnay from three Grands Crus along the Côte des Blancs, Avize, Ogerand and Le Mesnil-sur-Ogerin. A wine which heightens the sensory perceptions, La Grande Dame is the quintessence of the Veuve Clicquot style, drawing it's magnificence through a dominance of Pinot Noir.
Consolidating the Bouzy properties of her late husband, Madame Clicquot gradually built up the estate holdings through a driving determination to establish the leading marque in Champagne. The Clicquot vineyards today cover over five hundred hectares. These precious assets are spread through the very finest growths, 12 out of a total 17 Champagne Grands Crus and 19 of Champagne's 44 Premiers Crus. The vineyards boast an exceptional average classification of close to 97%, a ranking that is based on the winegrowing properties of the terroir and the quality of fruit. The vines are mostly planted to hillsides where soils are shallowest and exposure to the sun is optimal.
Luminous, sparkling gold hue, amber highlights, fine effervescence within a light bead. Initial mineral nose, white peaches and bergamot, a remarkable intensity. The bouquet develops voluptuous hints of brioche, nougats and apricot, vanilla, frangipane and jasmine. A palate great substance, chalky minerality resonates magnificently. An etude of Verzenay/Avize fruit, the two dominant Crus in this blend of eight. The finish is fresh and generous, indicating a light dosage that does nothing to disturb an exceptional natural balance.