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‘Champagne for chardonnay lovers’ was Freddy Bulmer’s summary of this charming blanc de blancs, a speciality of Henriot as he sipped it during our Wine Champions tasting this year. Intense and precise but soft and round, this draws on the fruit of some of Champagne’s top vines, and you can taste the distinction in this Champion.
Product Code: CH3511
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The Henriot family arrived in Champagne from Lorraine in 1640 and set to work establishing themselves as textile and wine brokers. It was in 1808 that the enterprising Apolline Henriot began the Champagne house that still bears her name and which is still in family hands over two centuries later. She built a successful business supplying some of the crowned heads of Europe and her initial success has in turn been built on by successive generations and despite the depredations of phylloxera and the First World War. Until recently the head of this Rheims-based house today was Joseph Henriot, who was once in charge at Charles Heidsieck and Veuve Clicquot, and contributed greatly to their success. His sure touch kept Henriot among the best Champagne producers until his death in 2015. It was he who oversaw the acquisition by Henriot of Charles-Heidsieck, the famous Burgundy négociant business Bouchard Père et fils and legendary Chablis house William Févre as well as producers of Cassis and Beaujolais. A thorough pragmatist, he merged Henriot with Veuve Clicquot in 1985, under the control of the luxury goods group Louis Vuitton-Möet-Hennesy, and he retained a seat on the LVMH board and was in place to buy his family house back in 1994. Sadly he died in 2015 but his heirs have maintained the focus on wines of great depth and finesse through a rigorous approach in their own vineyards and a deep knowledge of the terroirs of their grape suppliers. The house employs both chardonnay and pinot noir in blends with no pinot meunier used in any wine, but there is no doubt that they are chardonnay specialists and their blancs de blancs is justly famous among Champagne lovers. No herbicides or pesticides or artificial fertilisers are used in any vineyards and the chardonnay vines are pruned so that they have only two fruiting branches rather than four, in the Chablis style. Wherever the grapes come they are vinified separately at the cellars so that the chef de cave has the broadest palette of flavours to select from. Their patient and skilful approaches to blending and maturation have paid dividends, with alll Henriot wines being matured for more than twice the official requirements, in their deep chalk cellars in Rheims.
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