Champagne With Gravitas: 2002 Clouet Brut Millesime

Posted by Ian McFadden

Champagne with Gravitas
2002 André Clouet Brut Millésime

"André Clouet is based in Bouzy, a village where Pinot Noir speaks with great eloquence, as is evident in these superb, pedigreed Champagnes." -Antonio Galloni

Last year, on a brisk Monday morning in December, we offered out Clouet's 2002 Brut Millésime. It soon became one of our most popular Champagne offers to date.

The explanation is easy when you add everything up: 02 was a great vintage, André Clouet is one of Bouzy's benchmark producers, and Clouet's 2002 is the best vintage Champagne deal we've come across.

Over the past year, we've drunk plenty of Clouet's 02 and we've only grown more fond of it. It's grown more elegant and its mid-plate has filled out even more. We didn't hesitate when we had an opportunity to re-up.

Our obsession with this wine started last year when Bobby and I had a bottle at a dinner and were very, very impressed. We've been following Clouet's wines for years, but his 2002 really left us speechless.

To start, it beautifully showed the magic of the incredible 2002 vintage - a stunning interplay of richness with finesse. The wine has a seductive complexity offering up a polished minerality, vivid red fruits and a tension-filled silky texture.

Fans of Taittinger, Bollinger and Selosse should pay attention. Clouet's wines have a similar brash richness. Fans of grower Champagne or just people who love bubbles and value, should also take a look.

Along with Paul Bara, Clouet has long been the benchmark producer of the Grand Cru village of Bouzy (the ambitious Benoit Lahaye is now muscling in to join the two.) Situated on the south-facing curve of the horseshoe of the Montagne de Reims, Bouzy has ample sunlight and relatively warm temperatures. This means grapes achieve more ripeness and power than most of Champagne. Because of the warmth, Bouzy's definitive star is Pinot Noir.

Jean-François Clouet has excelled as a Pinot Noir specialist, making formidable wines in Bouzy. While the 02 Brut Millésime is technically a blend, 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

It is Champagne with gravitas, with the mysterious weight of fine red Burgundy. Antonio Galloni comments the "Red berries, flowers and minerals are some of the nuances that are woven together in a rich, expansive fabric of notable class." (His full review is below.)

All this from the 2002 vintage, surely the most exciting year since the legendary 1996. One of the clearest indicators of the greatness of 2002 is the way it combines ripeness and concentration with harmony, precision and elegance.

Clouet's 2002 is perfect to have on hand for entertaining this holiday season. Beyond just a celebratory glass, though, it should be pointed out that Champagne is one of the most versatile wines in the world. The high acidity and bubbles provide such gorgeous contrast to so many foods, especially a richer, Pinot-driven style like Clouet's.

At the same time, the combination of concentration and acidity will allow you to hold on to well stored bottles for another seven plus years. Over that time you can watch it deepen and grow even more complex.

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!

To order, please email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits