Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Brut

The 2004 is the first La Grande Dame since 1998, an aeon in the modern era of champagne releases. Vintage 2002 was deemed too bold and insufficiently mineral for La Grande Dame, and a small production of 25,000 bottles of 2000 was written off by cork taint. The 2004 ushers in a new age, disarmingly youthful, dramatically high-pitched and as glittering as fresh powder snow in full sun. Its minerality shimmers with ethereal chalk dust and sea-salt texture, penetrating deep into the mouth, illuminated by dazzling acidity. It launches with euphoric lemon zest, grapefruit and cut red apple, slowly morphing into white peach and dried pear, with flickers of honey, toast, cloves, dried lavender and beeswax, tightly contained within a delicate shell. Chalk minerality glimmers and dances long and enduring on an awe-inspiring finish. An introverted Grande Dame of concealed power and breathtakingly youthful demeanour hitherto unknown for Clicquot. Barely beginning its life at almost a decade of age, it has a magnificent life before it. Hold off at least another five years before diving in. $146 at Gourmandise.