We sam­ple Veuve Clic­quot's new wine in the ef­fer­ves­cent pres­ence of its cel­lar mas­ter

STEPHANIE IP takes a sip or two of the lat­est cre­ation from Veuve Clic­quot, guided by the house’s cel­lar mas­ter,

#Legend - - Contents - DO­MINIQUE DEMARVILLE

THE DRI­EST CHAM­PAGNE yet in­tro­duced by Veuve Clic­quot is the wine­maker's new Ex­tra Brut Ex­tra Old, a blend of the re­serve wines that are the heart and soul of Veuve Clic­quot Yel­low La­bel. Six re­serve wines pro­duced be­tween 1988 and 2010 are blended, and the re­sult is aged for a fur­ther three years in a spe­cial dou­ble-mat­u­ra­tion process. Ex­tra Brut Ex­tra Old is creamy and in­tense, yet boasts a fresh, min­eral-pu­rity fin­ish. Over a glass or two of this new pre­mium Cham­pagne, Veuve Clic­quot cel­lar mas­ter and mas­ter­mind Do­minique Demarville and #leg­end chat­ted about the uni­verse Veuve Clic­quot and its com­peti­tors move in, and the ob­ses­sion among earth­lings with low-dosage Cham­pagnes.

What went into mak­ing Ex­tra Brut Ex­tra Old?

The first thing we had in mind was to cre­ate a wine ex­tracted from our beau­ti­ful col­lec­tion of re­serve wines. I first tasted the re­serve wines when I joined Veuve Clic­quot in 2006 and I was re­ally im­pressed by its qual­ity, its pu­rity and min­er­al­ity. And when we de­cided to cre­ate this new Cham­pagne, to ex­plore the cat­e­gory of a low-dosage Cham­pagne, it was nat­u­ral for me to use this ca­pac­ity, this char­ac­ter of the re­serve wine with its del­i­cate tex­ture. That's why we got this idea. We started to think about this new Cham­pagne in 2011 and the tar­get was to make a Cham­pagne with enough creami­ness, but with a very bright fin­ish. So we tried sev­eral blends with dif­fer­ent re­serves and dif­fer­ent per­cent­ages of the va­ri­eties. And gen­tly we achieved the per­fect bal­ance with vin­tages from 1988 to 2010 – and it's the wine you're tast­ing to­day.

When you first tasted Ex­tra Brut Ex­tra Old, was it ex­actly how you imag­ined it should be?

My two ob­jec­tives were to make a Cham­pagne with pu­rity – very lin­ear, very dry – at the same time with a very del­i­cate smooth­ness and tex­ture on the palate. And I wanted to get a per­fect bal­ance be­tween these two com­po­nents of the Veuve Clic­quot style with creami­ness and fresh­ness.

When’s the per­fect time to drink the wine?

The wine is ready now, def­i­nitely. It's good to drink now, but it will be able to age very, very well.

How does Ex­tra Brut Ex­tra Old com­pare with Yel­low La­bel? Is it a su­pe­rior Cham­pagne?

It's dif­fer­ent. For me, the best im­age of the Veuve Clic­quot style is Yel­low La­bel. If you want to drink the best of the best of Veuve Clic­quot, you must drink Yel­low La­bel. But Ex­tra Brut Ex­tra Old is an ex­trac­tion of Yel­low La­bel, so Ex­tra Brut Ex­tra Old will not have the same com­plex­ity, will not have the full body of Yel­low La­bel. It's deeper, longer than Yel­low La­bel. I won't say the wine is bet­ter, but it's dif­fer­ent.

Dom Pérignon also cre­ates dif­fer­ent ex­pres­sions of its wines, and calls them their Pléni­tudes.

I think that in Cham­pagne, we love to in­no­vate and ex­plore new ter­ri­to­ries. And when I look at Veuve Clic­quot's galaxy, you have in the mid­dle Yel­low La­bel, the sun, which has the per­fect bal­ance amongst the four pil­lars of the Veuve Clic­quot style: full body, fi­nesse, creami­ness and in­ten­sity. What we are do­ing along­side it is to cre­ate new plan­ets, which are, of course, in con­nec­tion with Yel­low La­bel and take some­thing spe­cial from Yel­low La­bel. In Ex­tra Brut Ex­tra Old, we push the pu­rity and creami­ness to the max­i­mum.

Last year you launched Veuve Clic­quot Rich. Is that a more fun way to in­tro­duce Cham­pagne?

Of course. Cham­pagne is a drink of cel­e­bra­tion. And Rich comes from this idea. Rich is an op­por­tu­nity to ded­i­cate the Cham­pagne to the cock­tails, to mixology. When I was trav­el­ling all over the world, some­times I'd meet bar­tenders or mixol­o­gists who use Yel­low La­bel or a vin­tage to make a cock­tail. But we don't make these wines for peo­ple to make cock­tails. And that's why we had the idea to cre­ate a new Cham­pagne which is very sweet, but it's per­fect for cock­tails.

Is it in any way like Moët & Chan­don Pe­tite Liquorelle from the 1980s?

That wasn't a Cham­pagne, though. It was a liqueur. It was to­tally dif­fer­ent. I re­mem­ber very well this Pe­tite Liquorelle. It was very ex­cit­ing. I think they've stopped it now. It was a very spe­cial drink ded­i­cated to cock­tails but it wasn't a Cham­pagne. Rich is a Cham­pagne. It's quite a dif­fer­ent ap­proach al­though the mo­tive is the same. The ob­jec­tive is to reach the peo­ple who love cock­tails. Rich is sweet, with bub­bles, and the taste is more of trop­i­cal fruits, the yel­low fruits which is very in­ter­est­ing to use in a cock­tail.

Low-dosage Cham­pagne has be­come a trend. Why so?

Sev­eral rea­sons, I think. In the mind of some peo­ple it's more nat­u­ral to drink low-dosage Cham­pagne. For some oth­ers, it's a ques­tion of health. They don't want to drink some­thing too sweet. Som­me­liers are also look­ing for this kind of Cham­pagne be­cause it works very well with food.

Which Cham­pagne is your favourite?

It's a tough ques­tion be­cause it's like a choice be­tween chil­dren. I love all of them but it de­pends on the ex­pe­ri­ence. If I drank Veuve Clic­quot on the moon, I will bring a bot­tle – not a bot­tle, a mag­num – of Yel­low La­bel to make sure I will never for­get the sig­na­ture of Yel­low La­bel.

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