Grower Champagne Club – January 2013

1998 R. Dumont & Fils, Grand Millesime, Blanc de Noirs
We’ve tasted a lot of grower Champagne around here recently, between our class and our annual December tasting. It’s always a wonderful opportunity to experience and share how incredibly distinct and characterful these wines are. And among all that marvelous diversity, there are inevitably a few indisputable standouts. One of them this year was this extremely limited, and unbelievably complex Champagne from R. Dumont & Fils. Their standard cuvée has long been a shop favorite for it’s tasty appeal and affordability. But we were surprised and delighted to find that they also had a rare, vintage 1998 “Grand Millesime” available, and that we could not only try some, but get enough for the club (it was an easy decision by the club members at our class). The Dumont estate is located in the village of Champignol-lez-Mondeville, in the southern Aube region, where the family has been growing grapes for over 200 years. About 90 miles southeast of Reims and Epernay, this region has much more in common with Burgundy’s Chablis region just to the south. It shares the same limestone clay soil as Chablis (as opposed to the chalky soils to the north), which produces wines with remarkable acidity and minerality (interestingly, Chablis is all about Chardonnay, while the predominant grape in the Aube is Pinot Noir). Because of its distance, and distinctive terroir, the Aube has historically struggled to remain an official part of the Champagne region, even resorting to rioting in 1911, and it is still considered the lesser region by many. That’s hard to believe when you taste this amazing and beguiling wine, Dumont’s only 100% Pinot Noir Champagne. With the maturity of age, the acidity is soft and subtle, deftly supporting the lovely baked apple and brioche aromas. Only about ten cases came into the market, and there is just a bit left. It is $80 and is a truly special treat.