While the team at Xtrawine is always focused on providing people with more information about the Italian wine industry and the many amazing producers that craft stunning vintages every single year, we also want to offer an equal level of insight into the many producers throughout the world who are capable of producing wines that can rival anything produced in Italy.
For many, France stands on equal footing with Italy when it comes to the creation of amazing wines, with the debate surrounding Champagne and Prosecco, in particular, likely to continue for many more years to come.
While we have highlighted some of the great producers of Prosecco, and some of the less heralded types of sparkling white wine that are produced in Italy, it is also important that we pay homage to some of the great producers of Champagne and acknowledge their roles in the creation of one of the most famous wines in the world.
With that in mind, we have made the decision to focus on Andre Clouet in this week’s piece, both because of the company’s dedication to creating some of the most amazing Champagnes in the world and because the family as a whole has an interesting history that stretches back many hundreds of years.
Much like the famed Antinori family of Italy, the Clouet family has been involved in winemaking since time immemorial and nobody can point to the exact moment when the family truly started its adventures in the world of wine. What is known is that the family first came to prominence during the time of the famous French king Louis XV, when they began to make a name for themselves as printers in the Versailles court of the monarch. This is an industry where the family stayed for a number of generations and this history plays a large part in influencing the interesting “Ancien Régime” labels that can be found on every bottle of wine that is produced by the company.
Their work in printing allowed the family to lay the groundwork for what would eventually be their successful endeavours into the world of winemaking. After around two centuries of developing a reputation as some of the most talented and trustworthy printers in France, the Clouet family finally purchases a plot of vines in the territory of Bouzy. It is likely that members of the family has previous experience in viticulture, though it is unknown how far this level of expertise spread and how much the family was able to dedicate to winemaking efforts until the purchase of the vineyard.
Regardless, this purchase marked a distinct change in course for the Clouet family, which quickly began to spread its wings and move away from the industry that had led to them being so regarded, particularly amongst the French nobility, during the time of Louis XV.
The Bouzy vineyard that they purchased so many years ago is located in the southern part of the Mountain of Reims and is still owned by the family, which is a remarkable achievement in its own right, given the company’s age and later expansion. The purchase saw the family slowly start to move away from printing, instead establishing a reputation for winemaking that is very much the equal of the one they had built through their previous industry.
Their vineyard consists of a modest nine hectares of land, which pales in comparison to some of the massive vineyards that are owned and tended by some of the largest wine companies in the world. However, size has never been a focus of the Crouet family, who instead deem quality to be the biggest factor in their decisions, above all other considerations.
Those nine hectares are also classified as 100% Grand Cru, which is a rare distinction that has only been afforded to seventeen of the current three hundred villages in the region. This, beyond all else, demonstrates the commitment to quality that the company has made throughout its tenure and shows just how important the passion and the knowledge of viticulture in in the creation of truly spectacular wines.
Today, the many vines, which are tended lovingly by the family and its employees, ensuring that the beautiful Bouzy pinot noir grapes that are used in the creation of its champagnes reach their full potential. Their expertise is again demonstrated in this area, as the grapes grown at the vineyard are considered by many to be amongst the most complex strains in all of the world, thus requiring an enormous amount of dedication and talent in order to manipulate them into the wines that the company has become so famous for producing.
Today, the name Andre Clouet is a signifier of quality above all else and those who have had the privilege of tasting one of the many Champagnes produced in the region can attest to the fact that they are amongst the very best in the world. Without any further ado, let’s take a look at one of the company’s most enjoyable, and accessible, vintages.
This stunning sparkling white wine stands amongst the pantheon of great champagnes, though some would argue that it is has not quite received the recognition that it deserves for its enormous quality.
The beautifully fine and persistent bubbles make it an absolute joy to drink, while the golden colouring, which contains just the slightest hints of copper, demonstrate the subtle elegance of the wine itself.
To the nose, you will be introduced to gorgeous notes of apple and pear, alongside a number of mineral notes that leave you in no doubt of the quality of the wine itself. Smoky and balsamic notes complete the package, offering you further hints as to the surprising complexity of the actual drink.
Once introduced to the palette, you may be almost overwhelmed by the stunning power and intensity of the wine. It is amongst the most expressive of all of the Champagnes, but it is no less refreshing in this efforts. A stunning creamy texture and beautiful long finish round off what is one of the finest examples of sparkling white wine in the world.