Andre Clouet Champagne is a small grower (some say “tiny”) with 20 acres on prime sites in Bouzy and Ambonnay, which until recently was relatively unknown. The family has owned these vineyards since 1751, and they are now in the very able hands of Pierre and Francoise Santz-Clouet, and their winemaking son Jean-Francois. I’ve only tried one so far but have been impressed. I will be drinking more of their Grower Champagnes in the future!
Wine making son Jean-Francois Clouet claims one of his ancestors was a bodyguard for Louis XVI (others say a printer), and came home one day and told his wife he was fired because the king was beheaded. After briefly fleeing to Luxembourg, he eventually came back and became a friend of Napoleon. In 1751 at his request, he was given some vineyards in Bouzy where he was born, and which are now owned by Jean-Francois’ mother. Napoleon had suggested perhaps Sweden for retirement, but his ancestor thought it too cold.
It is the land which makes the enormous difference with Andre Clouet. When you buy a big name like Dom Perignon or Cristal, they buy plenty or grapes from Bouzy. Having been established in 1751 in Bouzy with the help of Napoleon, a well known Champagne aficionado, Andre Clouet has a very choice piece of land.
They make several Champagnes, including NV (non vintage) and vintage. These include NV Brut, NV Brut Nature Silver which features no dosage (added sugar), NV Champagne 1911 perhaps best described as “multi-vintage” and made from grapes from great years and pure Pinot Noir, NV Rose, and Vintage Champagne. Antonio Galloni, from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate) describes the 1911 as “Simply put this is remarkable juice.” They make exactly 1911 bottles of this every year and use exactly the same label as they used in 1911.
Perhaps no surprise, but I was unable to quickly find a bottle of 1911, however I found and enjoyed a NV Brut recently thanks to my friend Paul.
A wonderful light and ethereal nose with fresh baked bread, almost but not quite sourdough, and a hint of tangerine.
Tiny bubbles, elegant and smooth yet long. Fairly light and very elegant on the palate. No rough edges. As it warms a touch of grapefruit but with lighter acidity and some lemon. Once at nearly room temperature some slight orange citrus, perhaps tangerine, emerged.
We all loved the nose and some thought the nose outclassed the taste, but we all agreed it was very nice. This is certainly a finesse Champagne, like Cristal, not a powerhouse like Krug.
I’m looking forward to trying some more Andre Clouet Champagne, and maybe will be able to lay my hands on some 1911 or Vintage in the near future.
Interesting video of Jean-Francois Clouet below: