Champagne Day: Jose Dhondt Mes Vieilles Vignes Vintage 2007 Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru
Old vines are treasured and elevated, though labelling is totally unregulated. A recent seminar at the fantastic In Pursuit of Balance event in San Francisco saw some of the state’s leading winemakers debate the importance of vine age, with some winemakers believing that proper agriculture could produce nearly identical results with young and old vines, and with others defending the special character given to wines of a certain age. It’s an interesting debate that needs some science to come up with a definitive answer, but my instincts and experience have taught me that old vines are unique and special, though not always better, than young vines. This Champagne from Jose Dhondt, made from approximately 60 year old vines, is an example of a wine that is both unique and better than its young vine counterpart.
Old Vine, Organic, Sophisticated
Jose Dhondt was a grower exclusively until 1974 when he began bottling his own Champagnes. His estate is located in Oger and is known for blanc de blancs Champagne made from holdings in both the Cotes des Blancs and Sezannes. The Mes Vieille Vignes is made from a parcel located on the slopes of Oger (one of the best sites for Chardonnay in Champagne). Dhondt is essentially an organic grower. Low yields and single pressing in an old wooden press lead to steel vat fermentation.
This is an impressive wine. The style is dry, focusing on classic blanc de blancs flavours of lemon and stone. The bead is high quality and persistent. This vintage is now beginning to gain developed flavours and is the sort of Champagne that pairs ideally with nigiri sushi, which, because of the sophistication of the fish flavours and unique balance of rice, seaweed and fish, tends to require sophisticated, dry, umami driven blanc de blancs.
Best of all? The wine is truly outstanding for the price.
$74 and Highly Recommended Value at Marquis Wine Cellars