(English) Wines of the Week: Veuve Clicquot and Tedeschi

(English) Veuve Clicquot 1990 Champagne La Grande Dame            95
Tedeschi 2016 Amarone della Valpolicella Marne 180            94
Scored by Ian D’Agata

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Veuve Clicquot 1990 Champagne La Grande Dame            95

Founded in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot-Muiron, this Champagne house gained fame and fortune thanks to his daughter-in-law, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, whom his son François married in 1798. By all accounts, Barbe-Nicole was an extraordinary lady: a woman, like Coco Chanel and Marie Curie, far ahead of her time. Widowed in 1805, she took over the reins of the company at only 27 years of age, something which was essentially unheard of at the time, a world where women were not supposed, even allowed, to play a similar role. And yet she turned her estate into one of the world’s best Champagne companies. La Grande Dame is Veuve Clicquot’s prestige cuvée: created in 1962 and first launched on world markets in 1972, it was quite rightly named after her, “the great lady” herself. The Veuve Clicquot 1990 Champagne La Grande Dame is one of the best Veuve Clicquot Champagnes ever made, a 61%/39% Pinot Noir blend (completely different from the roughly 92%Pinot Noir and 8% Chardonnay blend of recent years) that is not just rich and complex, but also, at the ripe old age of thirty-one years, lively and fresh. The grapes were sourced from the eight historical grand crus of the Maison (but that too has since changed, with at times as few as only six grand crus used in recent vintages): the Pinot Noir from Aÿ (in the Grande Vallée de la Marne), Verzenay, Verzy, Ambonnay and Bouzy (in the Montagne de Reims), and the Chardonnay from Avize, Oger and Mesnil-sur-Oger (in the Côte des Blancs). The 1990 vintage will be remembered as one of the greatest all-time vintages in Champagne, characterized by a then record of 2100 Growth Degree Days (or GDD), never recorded in the thirty years prior (not to mention also the most temperate winter since 1966). Two hail episodes on April 5 and April 19 helped reduce yields; and cool weather during flowering (which took place in the first two weeks of June) further reduced yields, making for more concentration and density, the hallmark of the greatest 1990 Champagnes. In two short words? A beauty. Drinking window: now-2035.

Tedeschi 2016 Amarone della Valpolicella Marne 180            94

You won’t find a nicer family in all Italian wine than (in alphabetic order) Antonietta, Lorenzo, Riccardo and Sabrina Tedeschi, four people who should have a monument made to them given how well they carry the name of Amarone and Valpolicella around Italy and the world, a denomination that needs all the help it can get (a real shame, given the beauty of the region and the undeniable potential of its wines, why so many sorry wines are allowed to carry the name of Valpolicella and Amarone on the label I will never understand. Or actually, I do: but that’s a story for another time). Fortunately for everyone, then along comes a wine like the Tedeschi’s 2016 Amarone della Valpolicella Marne 180, which is just about the best possible ambassador for the region and the wine (the wine’s name is a reference to marly soil, or marne in Italian, and the southeast through southwest exposure, or in other words, 180 degrees), because it’s not just delicious, but clock in at a very affordable price, compared to iconic wines from Quintarelli and Dal Forno. Truly a thing of beauty, this gorgeous bright dark red beauty offers complex, inviting aromas of red and black fruit, sweet spices, a bright violet top note, plus hints of raisins, aromatic herbs and quinine. And it’s even better in the mouth, where a satiny mouthfeel lingers long on the sultry, ripely fruity and sweetly herbal aftertaste that showcases truly uncommon refinement. A slight mineral nuance on the long back end and juicy, harmonious acidity just add to this wine’s infinite charms. Made from air-dried grapes (reportedly for roughly four months, but tastes like it was less) picked in the vineyards of Mezzane and Tregnago, and aged three years in large Slavonian oak barrels. A smashing Amarone that won’t make you feel like you need to pour it into a thimble or a (very small) liqueur glass, never mind a wine goblet. Bravissimi! Drinking window: 2024-2036.

Ian D'Agata

赏源葡萄酒评论 Terroir Sense Wine Review主编
赏源风土研究院Terroir Sense Academy院长
国际风土协会副主席
知味 TasteSpirit 首席科学家

伊安·达加塔在葡萄酒领域耕耘超过30年,在葡萄酒品评、葡萄酒科研写作和葡萄酒教育等方面,都取得了杰出的成果,在葡萄酒行业和葡萄酒爱好者中,享有世界性声望。作为享誉国际的葡萄酒作家,他最近的两本著作《意大利原生葡萄品种》《意大利原生葡萄品种风土》被公认为意大利葡萄酒领域的权威著作;前者荣获2015年Louis Roederer国际葡萄酒作家大奖赛“年度最佳书籍奖”,他是唯一获此殊荣的意大利葡萄酒作家,并入选《洛杉矶时报》、《金融时报》、《纽约时报》评选的“年度葡萄酒书籍”榜单;后者被《纽约时报》和美国的Food & Wine杂志提名为年度最佳葡萄酒书籍。

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  • Great ‘Wines of the Week’ this week. And from my albeit limited engagement with the Tedeschi family, will have to wholeheartedly agree as to their personal niceness and quality production (alas, those two traits don’t often align). Am a big believer in Tedeschi as a quality Amarone producer and will now have to hunt down the Marne 180 (not always so easy here in Canada but where there is a will, there is a way).

    • I totally agree, the Tedeschi family is both super nice and talented. But I must admit that this latest Amarone really blew me away, as well as the friends I shared it with at dinner. Silky and smooth, not at all too raisiny or over the top, it is a remarkably suave and refined Amarone… quite an eye opener for all those wine lovers who find very powerful, rich and at times high in alcohol and residual sugar Amarone types a bit too much. This Tedeschi Marne 180 from the 2016 vintage is an absolute beauty.

Ian D'Agata