The new release from Veuve Clicquot, Extra Brut, Extra Old, is a clever twist on a classic and was more than enough to bring some spark back to my first champagne love, the Yellow Label.
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label was the first house I really experienced and has been a long standing fave. But with so many new champagne offerings on the market to try, I haven’t had many moments to revert to my old favourite lately.
So I was glad to have an ‘excuse’ to grab a bottle of the Yellow Label so I could do a little tasting with the new Extra Brut, Extra Old.
About the Extra Brut, Extra Old
What I enjoy about the Yellow Label is that it’s a high-pinot blend but it still retains a freshness that makes it the perfect champagne for the sunny Aussie climate.
The blend for the Extra Brut, Extra Old is the same as it is for the Yellow Label…
- 50-55% pinot noir
- 15-20% pinot meunier
- 28-33% chardonnay
… so I expected the fundamental formula to still shine through.
But it is what is different (not the same) that matters for this new wine and the two key differences with this new release are:
- Use of reserve wines and
The new style is a 100% reserve wine blend from six specially selected years – 1988, 1996, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Yellow Label blend draws on quite a high percentage of reserve wines for an NV (a bit of a hallmark for VC) usually originating from about 5 or 6 harvests. VCYL will have anywhere from 25 to 35% or sometimes as much as 40% reserve wines. The current release (July 2017) has a base year of 2013 making up about 52% of the blend with 48% reserve wines from 2012, ’11, ’10, ’09, ’08, ’07 and ’99. So you can see how young that blend is compared to the Extra Old.
The other difference is the new blend receives a very low dosage of 3g/l (the Yellow Label is 10g/l) which the house says results in the wine sharing the Yellow Label’s “complexity and cleanness, richness and freshness, brought into an even clearer relief.”
Knowing all this before I took a whiff or a sip, I expected this blend would offer a champagne that was rich and full-bodied, characterised by an extra kick of honey from the longer-aged reserve wines. But the low dosage would mellow some of that out with an almost salty taste that is common in very low dosage wines. (A lot of low dosage or zero dosage champagnes I’ve tried have made me quite thirsty from their saltiness.)
And so how did it taste…???
The truth is, I didn’t get a strong sense of either effect. Drinking it alongside the Yellow Label I could detect the lower dosage and certainly got a sense of the extra ageing, but it wasn’t an overwhelming experience of either. Which I suspect is entirely the point.
What I did notice more than anything else was a very fine bubble… it was almost a sherbet-like or soft sea-foam texture on the tongue rather than a noticeable full bubble (you might have to try to understand what I mean).
When would I drink it?
I would drink the Yellow Label any hour of the day or night with or without food. It is a really easy drinking and widely pleasing champagne that doesn’t need food but isn’t undermined by having it with food.
But the Extra Brut Extra Old is a food wine. I’d have it at the start of a multi-course meal, probably in one of two ways…
- after/with some seriously rich creamy cheeses so the fresh/saltiness cuts through the cream or
- with something really fresh and lightly salty like oysters or prawns or scallops.
Here in Australia, you can get a bottle at Vintage Cellars – depending on what deals they’re running – from $120-$140.
Any way you want to try it and no matter what you think of it, it’s a win for champs fans when champagne houses try new things! It is antastic to see a big house like VC stepping out from behind tradition and consistency, being a bit brave and shaking it up… Madame Clicquot would be so proud!
Watch my YouTube tasting…
As always I want to know what you think… have you tried it? What did you think? If you’re tasting it, post a pic and tag @bubbleandflute or #bubbleandflute or #champagnefan #happychamper
Read more about Veuve Clicquot
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame… A Strong Champagne For Kick-Arse Chicks Making Their Mark In A Man’s World
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