Thierry Garnier, Cellar Master, tells us about the 2021 clear wines and the upcoming vintages
How did the clear wine tastings go this year?
“As every year, we start tasting the clear wines from the previous year’s harvest in January. These tastings allow us to analyse the quality of the wines, to decide on the vintages and to prepare the blends. 2021 was an unprecedented year in climate terms. The conditions were very poor pretty much the whole year, with heavy rainfall following frost episodes, then downy and powdery mildew making an appearance. We had to accept a loss in the quantity of grapes harvested to guarantee the quality of our wines. Come harvest time, everything depended on our ability to select only the best bunches to take to the press. In the end we are delighted with what we have tasted during our clear wine tastings. Less is more! Our 2021 vintages will be produced in smaller quantities, but they promise quality in abundance! ”
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Philipponnat family in Champagne. What about the Cuvée 1522, which pays tribute to this long-standing presence?
“2021 will be a very fine vintage for the Cuvée 1522, with a blend of 30% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and Verzy and 70% Pinot Noir from our Le Léon plot in Ay, to which we have added wines from the Grands Crus of Mailly and Ambonnay. This vintage offers an excellent mineral tautness together with the usual spicy, peppery finish, which ensures it lingers exquisitely on the palate. The attack is packed with citrus, blood orange notes, a far cry from the exotic fruit aromas found in some particularly ripe Chardonnays this year. As for the Pinot Noir from the Grands Crus that we have blended in this vintage, they enhance the minerality of the cuvée, endowing it with a delightfully floral, elegant touch. You just have to wait eight years now to enjoy it! ”
Generally speaking, what makes this 1522 vintage so special?
“Cuvée 1522 is our only Grand Cru cuvée, Grands Crus which we are very proud to showcase in this way. Charles Philipponnat created the cuvée twenty years ago, and today it is acclaimed by connoisseurs who are extremely loyal to it. The wooden barrels imbue it with structure and wonderful vinosity on the palate. This proportion, vinified in wooden barrels, preserves all the freshness of the wine and allows it to gain in complexity, for optimal tasting in 7, 8, 10 years and more. Its freshness, finesse, minerality and elegance come from the white grapes. The unique characteristics of Pinot Noir are also fully apparent: the wine reflects its terroir. The Pinot Noir d’Ay comes from the Le Léon plot, which gives the wine its hallmarks, with spicy notes and vibrant minerality. But above all, it is a plot steeped in history: the very plot of land owned by Apvril Le Philipponnat back in 1522. It is no coincidence that the House’s motto is “La Champagne au Cœur” (Champagne in our Hearts)…”