The wines of De Sousa are highly individual and the 2008 Cuvée des Caudalies is one of the finest I have tasted in the vintage. We have a small allocation of the 2008 vintage at £695 per six bottle case in bond.
As we mentioned earlier in the month, 2008 is shaping up to be an exciting vintage, joining the ranks of the legendary 2002, 1996 and 1990 vintages. Growing conditions allowed for remarkably fine fruit quality at harvest and the resultant wines combine power and fruit intensity with scintillating freshness.
The scale of De Sousa is modest; there are just 9.5 hectares across 42 different parcels of vines. One notable key to de Sousa’s success is the age of their vines, the vast majority of which were planted over 45 years ago. In 1999, De Sousa converted from organic to biodynamic viticulture which - if anything - has lowered yields and demonstrates the intent to favour quality over quantity. Erick De Sousa is the third generation of family to take the helm. He – like so many of his peers – is taking an almost Burgundian approach to Champagne by producing wines that are site specific, such as Caudalies. In most vintages, only 2,000 bottles of Caudalies are produced although in 2008, they were able to double this normal production level, making a vintage of more abundant quantity and high quality. For reference, Dom Perignon is rumoured to produce one million bottles… this certainly gives you an idea of the scale of production.
I am always drawn to the effortless ripeness of fruit; the wines of De Sousa are always bright and lively, backed by impressive structure and concentration. Such qualities are certainly evident in the 2008 Caudalies (appropriately, ‘Caudalies’ is the unit of measurement of the length of taste), a Blanc-de-Blancs Champagne sourced from only Grand Cru vines. The fruit for the Caudalies is selected from vines of over 50 years of age; following the initial pressing, a further selection is made from the best juices (the remainder is used for the Non-Vintage Caudalies). The 2008 will have seen 10 months of vinification in oak, followed by seven years of further ageing. Erick elects to produce an Extra-Brut Champagne and so ripeness of fruit is therefore paramount; as very little dosage is added, the palate is carried by the quality of the Chardonnay.
Following a recent tasting, I include my note below. It is worth noting that in many instances, we include a critic note alongside our own, but De Sousa remains – to our benefit – somewhat under the radar, although interest in the wines is certainly growing. Having tasted Caudalies now in several vintages, I can say that this is one of the estate’s finest vintages and the finest 2008 Champagne that I have tasted to date.
2008 Cuvée des Caudalies, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru, De Sousa
£695 per six bottle case in bond
The 2008 Caudalies is one of the finest of the vintage that I have tasted to date, and perhaps the most impressive vintage of Caudalies yet. Made from fruit grown in Le Mesnil, Avize and Oger, the wine is partially vinified in oak, of which 15% is new. The aromatics offer characters of white flowers, honeysuckle and brioche and striking purity. A fine, textural mousse immediately impresses on the palate with a pristine fruit backed by chalky mineral nuances. It is perhaps the tautness of the structure that really impresses, as it carries the fruit long into the finish. Without a doubt, there is incredible precision, energy and definition to the 2008. An age-worthy Champagne, from one of the most exciting growers in the region. Drinking 2015-2030. (SL)
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