Now that we are offering the 2012 vintage of Guy Charlemagne's Le Mesnillésime, I am reminded of the words I used when we released the 2008 vintage...I commented as follows:
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 the gold and blue diamond-shaped label’ in place of its name!)
Nothing has changed; now clients have been drinking the 2008 and 2009 vintages, we are receiving the same comments. There is something hugely appealing about this classy Blanc de Blancs, but it is by no means a simple crowd-pleasing Champagne. I think what impressed clients most is the soft texture and luxuriant mousse…there is a rounded, generous sense to Le Mesnillésime without it lacking direction. I haven’t opened a bottle that has left me thinking that it needs more time to be enjoyable and I am sure that accessibility is part of its success. Perhaps the other part of its success is its amazingly fair price, particularly for a single Grand Cru vintage Champagne. At £285 per 6 bottle case in bond, it compares favourably to a whole host of less interesting and more expensive non-vintage Champagnes. Such is the draw of grower Champagnes.
Founded in 1892, Champagne Guy Charlemagne cultivates just 15 hectares of vineyard, principally in the villages of Oger and neighbouring Le 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.
And most importantly, the latest vintage and release:
The 2012 vintage is causing a buzz – it is clear that this vintage is set to rival some of the very best. Various winemakers and Technical Directors from major houses have suggested it exceeds the quality of numerous great vintages, 1990 and 1996 amongst them. Others have compared it to 1952, 1959 and 2002…I think you get the idea that it is rated highly. However, 2012 did not get off to a good start; there was frost, hail and disease early on in the year, but everything changed in the summer in dramatic fashion, notably so from August and come harvest the maturity of the fruit was exemplary. The crop was small given the early season conditions, but it was fully healthy with balanced acidity.
2012 ‘Le Mesnillésime’, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs, Guy Charlemagne
£285 per six bottle case in bond
Textbook Blanc de Blancs aromas here, notes of white flowers, notes of juicy apple and stone fruit with creamy, leesy nuances that make me dream of freshly-baked, glazed French patisserie. There is a fine expansive fruit on the palate, generous but underscored by a bright acidity. This is clearly a very fine vintage given the way the richness of the fruit is so beautifully balanced by the racy acidity and yet the hallmarks that render this cuvée so attractive are still apparent, there is no shaking off that unerring sense of luxuriance, with that soft, enveloping mousse. Subtle mineral nuances and a zesty, almost tangy nature come to the fore on the finish. Wonderfully pure, poised and textural – this will prove all too tempting to broach early, but will, given its structure, age over the next decade or so if you can resist! (SL) Drink 2021 to 2032.
Please let us know of your interest.
All the best,