From: Ambonnay, Champagne, France
Taste: It should be noted that this 2016 Blanc de Blancs from Ambonnay is a rare find; it successfully maneuvers around the vintages’ pitfalls, plays to balance power with finesse, and shows off the higher-quality fruit from Ambonnay in this vintage (& for this wine, 100% Chardonnay). Upon first opening, a delicate blend of lemon confit and intense chalk with hints of galangal, pistachio, and star anise mesh with toasted notes and a hint of hazelnut. After 30 minutes of being open, aerating the champagne enhances its subtle layers, and aromas of candied pear, vineyard peach, and marzipan oscillate with those confit lemon and chalky minerality tones.
The first impression on the taste buds is smooth and vibrant, featuring lush, tiny bubbles. The Blanc de Blancs Millésime 2016 cuvée unfolds into a succulent, crisp texture with a fruit-laden body, highlighted by a distinctly citrus core that expands and shines. That chalky mineral quality, lending clarity and a sea-salt vibe, shapes the mid-palate experience with the lift and generosity of fruit from limestone soils. The wood process contributes to an enhanced richness without overshadowing the mineral qualities enhanced by an intrinsic and lemony freshness. As the wine develops, a silky texture emerges, creating a profound and lasting taste experience that concludes with a lush and potent finale. The sensation is intense and illuminating, and you’ll thrill in the experience.
Pairing: We recommend going with flavors that play on elements commonly associated with the sea for this particular champagne. Fish and chips, fried seafood, shrimp scampi, scallops, halibut/sea bass/black cod all flow effortlessly well with this champagne. With that in mind, we’ve included a recipe by David Tanis for Flounder with Brown Butter, Lemon and Tarragon that would pair wonderfully well with this champagne. Sauces that contain capers, lemon, garlic, olives, or ginger are easy winners. Olives are a great briny accompaniment, as are oysters.
Flounder With Brown Butter, Lemon and Tarragon
By David Tanis
“Micro-producer Paul Déthune has enraptured us with their blue-blooded lineup of long-lived, multi-dimensional Champagnes. Over the years, we’ve offered all of their top Grand Cru bottlings, except for one elusive white whale: today’s exceedingly rare Vintage Blanc de Blancs.”
Ian Cauble, Master Sommelier
About. Paul Déthune (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants, a well-regarded organic producer with 7 ha of vineyards, of which 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The style is firm considering the proportion of Pinot Noir, and elegant. Annual production is about 50 000 bottles, and oak barrels – either large or small – are used for all wines.
The Déthunes started as growers in the early 1800s and began to make their own Champagne in the 1930s. The vineyards are planted in the ratio of 70% Pinot Noir to 30% Chardonnay and are farmed on organic principles – and hold the highest level HEV (High Environmental Value) certificate for sustainable viticulture. This immaculate 7 hectare domaine goes from strength to strength. Pierre and Sophie Déthune are friends of the Fournys and this Ambonnay domaine is amongst the loveliest and best cared for in the whole of Champagne.
2016 Vintage Report, Champagne.
Vintage quality: Good
Current condition: Ready to drink, will keep
Champagne suffered a difficult 2016 vintage but came up tops in the end.
The year got off to a tricky start with merciless April frosts devastating yields, in some cases wiping out entire crops, although this was more the exception than the rule. The weather didn't get any easier, with heavy rains falling from May through to July making conditions ripe for mildew and rot further reducing yields. Warm, dry weather finally arrived in July and temperatures continued to creep up, with August reaching blistering highs that caused some grapes to suffer from burns. Just before the harvest, rain fell again which caused various issues, especially within the Côtes de Blancs. The harvest was down by roughly a third and smaller, more flexible producers generally fared better than larger, more regimented ones.
Considering the difficult growing season, Pinot Noir and, to a lesser extent, Pinot Meunier performed very well. Much of Chardonnay, however, failed to ripen evenly.
Overall, the quality was good but not great. The wines tended to have good fruit and some nice acidity but perhaps lacked a real wow factor. More a year for Blanc de Noir than Blanc de Blanc, some of the best examples may have the capacity to age.
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