Champagne 2008: A ‘miracle year’?

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Is the 2008 vintage in Champagne the greatest ever? 2002 might have something to say about it, but there’s no doubt that ’08 is genuinely superlative. In recent months, I’ve tasted latest-release 2008 offerings from the likes of Amour de Deutz, Billecart-Salmon, Bollinger’s La Grande Année, Cristal, Dom Pérignon and Pol Roger’s Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill. All are utterly mesmerising.

To my palate, they possess so many positives: freshness, charm, purity of fruit, complexity, salinity, precision, balance and length. They are also seductively approachable now. Equally, there’s little doubt that the 2008s will develop and broaden with style and grace.

The vintage itself started somewhat inauspiciously. ‘We had spring frosts, followed by hail. July was cold and rainy’, says Gilles Descôtes, cellarmaster at Bollinger, at the 2008 La Grande Année launch at the Ledbury in London. ‘August wasn’t much better: dry but cold.’ But then it changed completely. ‘We began picking on 6 September and didn’t finish until the beginning of October.’

Translated by ICY

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