søndag 6. oktober 2013

Henriot & Lanson

Vinmøte Roar 26.9.13

Champagne Henriot Brut Millesime 1995

En champagne som ikke er helt forløst. Fremdeles grønn i fargen og overraskende primær for årgangen. Citrus, smal og balanserer såvidt nå. Årgangen skal nå drikke godt og  skal være relativt moden. Stram, streng og den bør fortsatt lagres. Men noen spørsmålstegn må stilles til stilen. 88 poeng

Champagne Henriot was founded in 1808, but its grape-growing and winemaking (still wine back then) began in 1794 when Nicolas Henriot, a wine and textile merchant in Reims, married Apolline Godinot who owned vineyards.  After only 14 years of marriage, on his death in 1808, Apolline became one of Champagne’s famous widows, forming ‘Veuve Henriot Ainé’.  The house has an unbroken line of Henriot ownership ever since.  In the 19th century more land was added to the estate, with a notable 75ha holdings on the Côte des Blancs and a growing reputation for an elegant style with an emphasis on Chardonnay.
The house has been closely linked with two other famous names.  Apolline’s grandson Ernest Henriot was a party to the founding of Champagne Charles Heidsieck in 1851. Ernest left Charles Heidsieck in 1875 to run the family Henriot firm, only for Henriots to return and buy Heidsieck outright in 1976, this time in the form of Joseph Henriot who was to become a hugely important figure in Champagne.  In 1985 Joseph sold Charles Heidsieck to Remy Martin (later Remy Cointreau), but this deal was a mere curtain-raiser to his handling of the family Henriot jewels.  In short order Joseph Henriot sold almost the entire estate (but he has claimed, not the brand) of Champagne Henriot’s some 125ha to of Champagne Henriot’s some 125ha to Champagne Veuve Clicquot in return for 11% of the Clicquot share stock and ended up running that company within the Louis Vuitton-Moët Hennessy group (LVMH) as he held the biggest individual slice of shares.
In 1994 Joseph Henriot left Veuve Clicquot and returned to run the family Henriot house, determined to reverse a degree of torpor which had set in.  Soon the Henriots had many wine fish to fry, acquiring Bouchard and William Fevre in Burgundy but Joseph Henriot’s overall business activity went far beyond wine too.  He had appointed his eldest son Stanislas to run Henriot in 1999, seemingly successfully, and exports rose during the ‘noughties’ from only 20% to 50% of production.  But the leadership changed course again in 2010 when Stanislas suddenly left and younger brother Thomas has been at the helm since.  Remarkably, for all the changes, quality here has risen dramatically.  Up to 2008 the wines could often seem to lack some zip and freshness, perhaps due to slow stock movement.  The source of its present renaissance owes much to the inspired management and winemaking of the chef de caves from 2006, Laurent Fresnet who has brought a new grip to the enterprise.  From 2010 his wines are a revelation and highly recommended.
Nowadays the owned Henriot estate is 35ha of vineyards, a fraction of its former self buying in 70% of its needs to produce about 1.5m bottles annually.  Certain winemaking and cellar space is still shared at Charles Heidsieck and Veuve Clicquot sites in Reims but the Henriot HQ is at the far north end of Rue Coquebert; you pass Krug on the way. The modest owned land is some 12ha from around the south of Epernay area, 12ha in Chouilly (grand cru for Chardonnay) and some 11ha in the Aÿ, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and Avenay district of the Marne, the southern Montagne.  None is now owned in the grands crus of the Côte des Blancs itself. Instead there are some highly valued contracts with growers in high quality holdings there.
It must be quite a balancing act keeping up the high quality contract sources of Chardonnay from favoured sites which the house now relies on. Laurent Fresnet has a hectic schedule of overseeing the growers, determined that the house’s Blanc de Blancs, which has emerged as its leading flagship, will get even better. The house has always insisted on minimal fungicide spraying and no herbicides are used.
My view is that the Henriot house has only recently emerged from a period of instability and neglect. From 1985 to 1990 there would have been a difficult period of securing stable high quality grape supplies as the entire estate holdings had been sold.  While Joseph Henriot returned to the house in 1994 the work of his son Stanislas concentrated successfully on developing export distribution rather than the winemaking and grape supply.  Prior to 2008 stocks of wine sur lattes were slow moving in spite of selling several vintage versions at a time.  While the house has always given its wines admirable long aging on the second lees, up to 2008 several of its wines tasted slightly dull and with a toffee note of oxidation.  This period of doldrums is thankfully over with what appears to be the talented focus of chef de caves Laurent Fresnet.
The Henriot style now showing so well, is distinctive.  All the wines have impressive long aging, the entry level Brut Souverain at least three years, the Blanc de Blancs 4-5 and vintage wines longer.  There is too a high fraction of complexing reserve wines used and some 10% of these are kept in a perpetual ‘solera’ type blend begun in 1990 and refreshed each harvest.  The other reserves are kept by cru and variety in small stainless steel. Malolactic is generally completed and no wood is used at all.  Such a strategy demands intense management but the results are clear: wines that combine complexity from ageing and reserves with a striking freshness and finesse with high proportions of Chardonnay used, now some 50-60% of the overall material.  A high wire act being accomplished now it seems with real success. Two thirds of supply is from grands and premiers crus. The recent addition of small fractions of Pinot Meunier into the blends of the Brut NV Souverain (about 40CH 52PN 8PM) and the Rosé NV (about 60PN 37CH 3PM) is a new winemaking facet and a break with the Henriot traditon of eschewing Meunier.  To me this is positive, linking the complex less primary notes of age and reserves and the incisiveness of high levels of Chardonnay by rounding them out.
The current trump card of the house is the Blanc de Blancs.  About 40% of the fruit is from the grands crus of the Côte de Blancs, 40% from the premiers crus Trépail, Villers-Marmery and Vaudemange triangle of Chardonnay specialist villages on the eastern tip of the Montagne and some 20% from Sézanne, Montgeux and Vitry-le-Francois. The current release (base 2006) is aged 3-5 years on the lees, high for an NV Blanc de Blancs, with some 30% reserves, mainly from 2005 and is dosed at 9g/L.  The result is an impressively herbal, floral and spicey nose with a lovely smoky and biscuit background of complexity, creamy texture and concentrated length.  Fresh, citrus top notes but set in some elements of balancing maturity.

Champagne Lanson Brut 1988

Fremdeles lys og pen farge. Mere frukt enn Henriot`en og mere utviklet. Samtidig typisk Lansom med non-malo og skrikende syre. Utviklet duft med sopparoma, trøffel og nedfallsepler. Autolyse, klassisk og skarp i munnen. En god 1988. 90 poeng

Fra dn.no:

63264 Lanson Millesime Brut 1988

Lanson. Champagne, Frankrike
Kroner 2.900,- 1500 ml. spesialpol. 90 poeng. Stenberg & Blom 
Smakt flere ganger tidligere, og da med gammel degorgering, som faktisk er å foretrekke. Dufter modent av sopp, nøtter og tørket frukt. Moden frukt på smak med en spenstig syre og avslipt utgang. Alle 6 pol. Drikk nå til 2018. Passer til sopp og spekeskinke. MB

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