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1985 ‘Louise Pommery Blanc de Blancs Vinothèque’

Richard Juhlin

Richard Juhlin

Blid tasting a rare magnum that Richard Juhlin did not know exited. [read the full champagne story] 

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The history of champagne is full of enterprising widows. Louise Pommery was already a widow at the age of 39 and she probably would have proudly smiled in her grave if she had found out that she was going to give her name to the prestige champagne that was created in her honor in 1979. Pommery, currently owned by Vranken, was founded in 1856 and is today one of the largest champagne houses with their 5.6 million bottles a year. Given that most equivalent champagne houses launched their prestige champagnes during the 50s and 60s, it is a bit surprising that they waited until 1979 before the giant in Reims stepped onto the prestige stage. The reason is said to be that the monegasque Polignac family for a long time was against this novelty, stating that the vintage wine was already perfect.

Louise Pommery – the Greta Garbo of champagnes

The history of champagne is full of enterprising widows. Louise Pommery was already a widow at the age of 39 and she probably would have proudly smiled in her grave if she had found out that she was going to give her name to the prestige champagne that was created in her honor in 1979. Pommery, currently owned by Vranken, was founded in 1856 and is today one of the largest champagne houses with their 5.6 million bottles a year. Given that most equivalent champagne houses launched their prestige champagnes during the 50s and 60s, it is a bit surprising that they waited until 1979 before the giant in Reims stepped onto the prestige stage. The reason is said to be that the monegasque Polignac family for a long time was against this novelty, stating that the vintage wine was already perfect.

1985 ‘Louise Pommery Blanc de Blancs Vinothèque’

TASTING NOTE Champagne Club by Richard Juhlin

98(99)p

First, let me start by telling you that these extremely rare magnum bottles that you are about to read about are unbelievably good. Next, I would like to proudly tell you that I guessed both the wine and the vintage correctly without even knowing its existence. I was simply guessing a Cuvée Louise Pommery Vinothèque magnum from 1985, but it tasted like a Blanc de Blancs from their Avize and Le Mesnil vineyards without the body from Aÿ which is always normally part of the Cuvée Louise recipe.

I guess I would never have dared to guess so accurately and oddly if it wasn’t “The one and only” Andrius Smaliukas who opened it blindly for me and some friends. Only he can track down such treasures directly from the champagne houses. If there had ever been a Louise Pommery Blanc de Blancs, he would of course have sought it out. It had been made! 

Only once in history did Prince Alain de Polignac and Thierry Gasco consider Pinot Noir from Aÿ to be too heavy and dominant in the cuvée, namely in 1985.

Richard Juhlin

Although I am a big supporter of the often underrated prestige champagne Cuvée Louise Pommery, I have always believed that it is a difficult challenge to make heavily Chardonnay-dominated prestige cuvées because the blue grapes often take away some of the finesse and florality of Grand Cru Chardonnay. At the same time, it is rare that the Pinot Noir part has the strength to burst into aromatic full bloom. Usually, that part provides mostly structure and depth unless it reaches at least 50 percent or more of the cuvée. In most vintages, it takes up to 20 years before both parts provide full aromatic joy and structural perfection in Louise. The regular commercial 1985 in bottle format has as usual 40 percent Pinot Noir from Aÿ and it was not at all harmonious for the first 20 years. At the age of 30, it became magically balanced with enormous depth and now belongs to the very best vintages made by the house. However, I have never tasted it in a magnum or in a Vinothèque version.

I hope Clément Pierlot one day unearths one if they remain in the cellars of Reims to compare with my euphoric indelibly fresh memories of the epiphany the 1985 Blanc de Blancs just created in my brain and soul.

Richard Juhlin

The wine had that elusive volatility that the greatest Blanc de Blancs can have when they are still embarrassingly youthful and at the same time have developed faint but deep notes of provident maturity. My associations of similar experiences go to the 1969 Jacquesson Blanc de Blancs at thirty years of age and indeed also to the greatest of them all.

My only 100-pointer after 15,500 champagnes tasted, the 1928 Pol Roger ‘Blanc de Blancs Grauves Vinothèque’.

Richard Juhlin

The same green shimmering young color. The same bright aroma spectrum of lilies of the valley, lime blossom, orange blossom, white lilacs, lime peel and the purest chalk backed by a weak, but incredibly beautiful bouquet of Madagascar vanilla, nougat, coconut, peach and milk chocolate. The first attack on the tongue is tingly and energetically expectant. Small brisk bubbles tickle the entire oral cavity while the aromas from the fragrance welcome a wave of silky caress. A little more orange in the taste and the lime notes become less pronounced. As the sensual and extremely long aftertaste wanes in strength, the sweeter notes take over from a cannonade of chewy belemnite chalkiness.

‘Thank you Pommery and thank you Andrius and not least thanks for my brain, nose and taste buds can still track down seemingly impossible wines through detailed analysis and full focus after the 60′ stretch. The old man still got it!’

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