Champagne house Veuve Clicquot's decision to keep a large volume of its wines in reserves has paid off with the introduction of Extra Brut Extra Old, its latest premium champagne on the market.
The champagne, which is double aged and drier, is in line with what champagne drinkers prefer these days, says cellar master Dominique Demarville.
"Extra Brut is an extraction of the best of Yellow Label and, to create it, we select the purest wines of our collection which are dedicated to Yellow Label," he says, referring to Veuve Clicquot's ubiquitous Yellow Label champagne. Extra Brut Extra Old, however, has a black label.
Yellow Label is made up of 40 to 45 per cent of reserve wines, with the remainder of the blend made up of wines (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) coming from the most recent harvest.
But Extra Brut Extra Old is made up of 100 per cent reserve wines, with the youngest wine aged a minimum of three years on the lees in stainless-steel vats before it is used in the blend. Maison Veuve Clicquot's collection of reserve wines, one of the biggest in the Champagne region in France, contains reserves dating from 1988 to last year.
It is the second-largest champagne house in the world after Moet & Chandon.
"Reserve wines are important to make the blends consistent year in and year out, so Extra Brut Extra Old is based on the best savoir faire of the reserve wines," Mr Demarville says, speaking to The Sunday Times ahead of the launch of the cuvee earlier this month.
Vintages from 1988, 1996, 2006, 2008 and 2010 go into the Extra Brut Extra Old "assemblage" (blend) and in a blend of 47 per cent Pinot Noir, 27 per cent Chardonnay and 26 per cent Pinot Meunier.
They were selected according to the balance between purity and creaminess. "The oldest reserve wines are very creamy and the youngest are mostly on the fresh, pure side," says Mr Demarville, who started on the project in 2011 and created the first blends in 2013 after two years of experimenting.
Other factors such as how fresh the champagne is on the palate, how long the finish lasts and how it works with food were also considered.
He recommends having it with seafood such as scallops, lobster and sea urchin as well as sashimi.
Extra Brut Extra Old also marks Veuve Clicquot's further exploration into low-dosage champagnes, which Mr Demarville notes are becoming "more popular".
The "Extra Brut" in the name comes from how only a low dosage of sugar is added - 3g a litre. In comparison, Yellow Label has an average of 9g of sugar a litre.
The "Extra Old" comes from the double ageing process where, in addition to ageing in vats, the champagne is matured for at least a further three years in bottle in the cellars.
"For me, there are two important things - the purity of the taste and the texture, which is creamy and silky," Mr Demarville says.
"We wanted to give people who were looking for purity and creaminess something which was not in the Veuve Clicquot portfolio until now."
Extra Brut Extra Old (75cl) retails at the recommended price of $110, while Yellow Label retails at $70. Extra Brut Extra Old can be purchased through Cru World Wine. You can also order it by the glass or the bottle at Atlas Grand Lobby & Bar in Parkview Square, 600 North Bridge Road.