Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 1976

Birth year wines can be a mixed bag. Sure, it's fine if you're utterly minted and born in an extraordinary year, but for the rest of us wine dorks, it's not that easy. I do not envy Bordeaux fans born in '73. I do not envy young, poor, wine trade-lings born in '82 and desperate to taste something affordable from that seminal (though now somewhat fading) year. 

Please do not point out that wine trade-lings born in '82 are not really all that young anymore. 

I've been lucky. '76 Champagnes have lasted well and there are a fair few Germans out there that are tasting good still. Sadly any Burgundy I could afford would probably be passed it, whilst I comfort myself that any bottle I can't afford is probably fake anyway. 

I've also been lucky because one of my best mates collects obscene amounts of Champagne and happens to be quite fond of '76. Ta, Pete.

Gold going to deep brass - excited while pouring but the bubbles settle to quite tiny and slow.

Honey and burnt orange rind, with nuts and mushrooms on the nose. Quite sherry-ish. Coaxing reveals some darker forest fruits and fruit compote. Hints of nettles.

Bright, big, deep, rich and powerful. Roasted walnuts, chestnuts and mushrooms enlivened with orange citrus, butter and the kind of slight crisp you expect with the glazed part of a croissant. That citrus goes to quince; rich, spicy quince. Lovely, centred weight provides great structure and superb length. You can taste the heat of the vintage in the brightness of the wine, but it never seems hot or unbalanced. Genuinely incredible stuff.


Tasted at Naughton, 28/4/2012