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FICOFI: Champagne Henriot & Domaine Leflaive Blagny 1er Sous Le Dos D’Ane

October 5, 2017

After a brief hiatus, FICOFI resumed its series of impromptu tastings in Singapore at the Four Seasons Hotel on 28 Sep 2017, featuring the wines of Champagne Henriot and a mini-vertical of a rarity from Domaine Leflaive. The history of Champagne Henriot may be traced back to 1640 when its ancestors settled in Champagne (having uprooted from Lorraine), starting first with wine brokering before producing its own champagne in 1808 after many years of quietly acquiring plots of vineyards. While not quite as big as some of the more commercialised and better known names from Reims, Champagne Henriot has holdings in several plots of premier cru and grand cru throughout the Cote des Blancs. The Brut Millesime is a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, all from grand cru vineyards, while the Cuvee des Enchanteleurs, named after the old days when wine was still vinified in barrels stacked high on wooden beams, is an equal blend of pinot noir and chardonnay also exclusively from grand cru, but declared only in exceptional vintages.

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2000 Champagne Henriot Brut Millesime, poured from magnum. Displaying a lovely golden hue with a rich bouquet of enticing citrus and lime that was highly aromatic, quite open and expansive on the palate with notes of lovely toast with gentle nutty and yeasty characters laid on a great minerally floor, suitably complex, producing superb fullness and mouthfeel. Highly elegant. Excellent.

2003 Champagne Henriot Brut Millesime, poured from magnum. This wine is even more lifted, seducing the senses with a generous bouquet of delicate floral notes with lovely delicacy and detail that was missing from the 2000, distinctly more feminine and more perfumed, drier with more toasty characters and a tad yeasty, again supported by a fine minerally floor but marred by a finish that was almost non-existent, betraying the intense heat of that vintage. This  wine is all about its bouquet. On the whole, the 2000 is still preferable.

1999 Champagne Henriot Cuvee des Enchanteleurs. Poured from magnum, this wine exudes a deep complex bouquet, highly alluring to its deep dark secrets, revealing fleeting richness of delicate lime and clear citrus on the palate with overtones of what seemed like rice wine, displaying good detail with a lovely feminine elegance, finishing with good linearity and length along with subtle acidity. A second bottle that was popped later in the evening seemed a tad fresher, though much more minerally as well. Still yet to peak, I’d say. Excellent.

20170928_185759.jpgThe whites of Domaine Leflaive need no introduction, but a red from Leflaive? Its Blagny 1er Sous Le Dos D’Ane is a rare pinot noir hailing from a plot within Puligny-Montrachet, now made even more rare by the fact that it had been completely uprooted after 2002 and re-planted with chardonnay instead. What prompted the decision is unclear to me but that’s right, the Blagny 1er Sous Le Dos D’Ane is now an extinct wine. We were really fortunate this evening to be able to taste a mini-vertical of this rarity because FICOFI had the foresight to buy up all existing holdings of the rouge from Domaine Leflaive. With the switch to chardonnay, French laws mandate that the wine is now called a Meursault 1er Sous Le Dos D’Ane, even though its terroir remains unchanged. How convenient.

2002 Domaine Leflaive Blagny 1er Sous Le Dos D’Ane. Delicious dark cherries and red fruits dominate on the rich bouquet with a hint of undergrowth, velvety on the palate with good concentration, fine acidity and saline minerals amidst prominent overtones of Asian spices, layered with lovely purity and good complexity, finishing on a long minty note. Truly a wine of power, structure and length. Excellent.

2001 Domaine Leflaive Blagny 1er Sous Le Dos D’Ane. Darker in tint than the 2002, this wine is quite remarkably perfumed with generous notes of aged red fruits, camphor and exotic spices along with dry mushrooms and some earthiness, rounded with very good presence and purity, well structured with crisp acidity and fine linearity though it seemed slightly unsettled at the finish.

1999 Domaine Leflaive Blagny 1er Sous Le Dos D’Ane. This celebrated vintage, now 18 years, possesses lovely color with a rich yeasty pungency, displaying wonderful depth and breadth though, curiously, it seems a little awkward on the back palate where stony minerals seem to cause a little bit of hardness, also a tad short.

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