2004 Jacquesson Ay Vauzelle Terme

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Average critic rating : 96.0 points



Jacquesson’s 2,500 bottles of 2004 Extra Brut Ay Vauzelle Terme issue from a 1980 planting whose excellence they have been demonstrating by means of dedicated bottling since 1996, and its latest installment can only enhance the reputation of this rare and rightly expensive wine. Buddleia, wisteria, toasted grains, and a whiff of cocoa powder suggest advanced ripeness, and anticipate the inner-mouth floral profusion and subtly roasted flavors that follow on a polished and expansive palate suffused with superbly integrated, ultra-fine mousse. Nut extracts, dark berry distillates, toasted shrimp shell, chalk and wet stone well up from seemingly inexhaustible depths, while a luscious fruit contingent of juicy white peach, musk melon and quince gains strength as the bottle takes on air; and the floral notes never flag. By the third day, an almost praline-like nuttiness had emerged, along with a musky edge to the perfume and an enhancement of the sweetly saline, saliva-liberating savor of shrimp shell reduction. This novel-length study in a vineyard that would have rung bells with nobody outside Champagne (and scant few insiders) when Jacquesson first subjected it to separate bottling is likely to richly reward lucky owners for a dozen or more years. ||Possessed of vines in a who’s-who of disparate Champagne villages supplemented by purchased fruit from a few equally renowned communes in which they do not have holdings, Laurent and Jean-Herve Chiquet have – particularly over the past decade – led their already successful house along some unusual not to mention unusually successful paths. Virtually all of their wines are bone-dry (and labeled “Extra Brut”) yet come off as admirably balanced, following cask fermentation and aging with malo-lactic transformation, and long stays in bottle pre-disgorgement. In lieu of a conventional non-vintage blend, there is a wine sequentially numbered (allegedly to coincide with the totality of cuvees in Jacquesson history), and dominated by as well as designed to express the character of a single vintage. The estate’s upper-tier (and alas, for those of us on any kind of budget, that’s spelled with a capital “U”) now features a trio of highly limited, vineyard-designated bottlings whose recently disgorged instantiations are already about as complex as young Champagne can be. I did not visit with the Chiquet brothers this year, and shall look forward to doing so – and to reporting on a wider range of their wines – next year. eRobertParker.com.November, 2013


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