Without doubt the 2004 Guy Charlemagne, Le Mesnillésime Grand Cru was one of the most popular offers we made in the last two years. This is not simply reflecting the volume sold, but actually the feedback received from clients. Leaving issues of pronunciation aside (Le May-nil-lay-seem), many clients have commented on how much they have enjoyed this exceptional Grand Cru vintage Champagne (identified as the ‘one with gold and blue diamond-shaped label’ in place of its name!), so this offer of the 2008 vintage is eagerly awaited to say the least. Simon's comments and notes on the estate, below.
We tasted the follow-up vintage on several occasions, but the 2005 did not make the cut. By contrast it seemed overly soft, cumbersome and a touch honeyed. We did however have high hopes when a sample of the more classically styled 2008 vintage was opened earlier this week. 2008 is shaping up to be a very impressive vintage on account of remarkably fine fruit quality at harvest and a more typical summer, the resultant wines combine power and fruit intensity with scintillating acidity. There is little doubt that as we see more 2008s emerge onto the market, that this vintage will be viewed as one with long-term cellarage potential.
Champagne Guy Charlemagne cultivates just 15 hectares of vineyard, principally in the villages of Oger and neighbouring Mesnil-sur-Oger. Guy’s son, Philippe, inherited the estate from his father and continues the family tradition of producing Champagne with fine depth and precision. The pick of the range is undoubtedly ‘Le Mesnillésime’. This is an exquisite Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) for which all of the fruit comes from a Grand Cru classified site, with a markedly chalk/ limestone soil, where the vines are more than 60 years of age. Partially fermented in old, oak barrels, this Champagne benefits from a low dosage of just 4 g/l in order to retain its natural elegance and poise. It is matured in the estate’s cool chalk cellars for between six to eight years before release.
I should add that this cuvée is only made in the finest vintages and, while the 2005 disappointed me, the 2008 joins the 1996, 2002 and 2004 in an impressive run of vintages for the estate. Frankly it might well be the best yet.
2008 ‘Le Mesnillesime’, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs, Guy Charlemagne
£250 per six bottle case in bond
The 2008 ‘Le Mesnillisime’ reveals enticing aromatics of white flowers as well as juicy, ripe cox’s apple with gently leesy notes in the background suggesting freshly-baked patisserie. The density and power on the palate are nothing short of striking. Texturally this impresses greatly; with an appealing depth to the palate. There is a tautness that underscores the richness of fruit beautifully – the fruit shows in a zesty, bright, juicy manner with lemon and mineral notes the last to fade. The lasting impression is one of purity and precision with this classy Blanc de Blancs, with its markedly mineral, long, lingering finish. Another great success for this high-class producer. NB This is not as evolved as the 2004 was when we offered it in late 2014 and therefore a little patience is recommended to allow the complexity to evolve, which is reflected in the drinking dates. Drink 2019 to 2028. (SL)
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