Pinot Noir in Champagne
2002 André Clouet Brut Millésime
"...the exuberance and weight for which Bouzy is so well-known..." -Wine Advocate
André Clouet is, along with Paul Bara, one of the two benchmark producers in Bouzy, a town in Champagne famous for the quality of its Pinot Noir.
Today, from one of the greatest vintages of the last few decades, we present everything that makes this village so special, so unique.
And we do so at the popular (and elusive) sub-$50 price point. Fans of Paul Bara, Taittinger, Bollinger and Selosse should pay attention; those passionate about Grower Champagne and the idea that Champagne should be opened before dinner as well as right along with dinner, this email is for you.
It is Champagne with gravitas, with the mysterious weight of fine red Burgundy. Galloni at the Advocate writes, "Red berries, flowers and minerals are some of the nuances that are woven together in a rich, expansive fabric of notable class." Though we've been following Clouet's wines for a few years, Bobby and I had the 2002 at a dinner a few weeks ago and it was spectacular.
What perhaps shouldn't be too surpising; Jean-François Clouet is making formidable wines and the magical 2002 vintage has given the bottle more of everything. It is incredibly dense, luscious and creamy with beautiful red fruit and flowers, a silky mineral-driven freshness that powers and styles the wine.
This is where the magic of the 2002 vintage really shines - a stunning interplay of richness with finesse.
The richness and textural elegance calls to mind the producers mentioned above, though of course the terroir here is quite different. We are in Bouzy.
Bouzy is one of Champagne's Grand Cru villages. It sits on the south-facing curve of the horseshoe of the Montagne de Reims - ample sunlight and warmer temperatures here mean grapes achieve more ripeness than they might elsewhere in Champagne. Because of the warmth, Bouzy's definitive star is Pinot Noir.
Clouet’s Brut Millésime is technically a blend, but the Pinot Noir distinctly runs the show here, full of really vibrant, concentrated red berries and that dense base of richer, darker yet still chalky-textured mineral notes. This is luscious and a bit sensual; as Galloni says, "a round, creamy finish has the last word." (His full review is below.)
I'd skip the oysters, skip the delicate flutes and pour it in full-fledged Burgundy bowls and give it the course of a meal to open all the way up. Champagne and steak? By all means.
Champagne is one of the most versatile wines in the world. The high acidity and bubbles provide such gorgeous contrast to so many foods, and the wide variety of styles available from super-light and elegant to much richer and powerful mean there are very few things Champagne won't go well with.
This is a perfect example of the latter and six-packs today give you a chance to experiment. There's no reason to wait, but this will surely last another 10 years with good storage.
Clouet farms only 9 hectares - as with most of the Grower Champagnes, the issue is quantity and availability. This will be the issue again today.There's enormous quality here, outrageous versatility and the price tag is comparatively small. Highly recommended!
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Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits