The word Champagne derives from Latin `campania`, or open countryside. However the exception is the area south of the city of Reims, where a group of low hills and valleys provide a unique micro climate, enabling the vine to grow on deep chalk soils.
The vineyards of Champagne are planted in three distinct areas. The `Montagne de Reims` is predominately planted with Pinot Noir, the backbone to the Champagne blend, whilst Chardonnay is ideally suited to the chalky slopes of the `Cote de Blancs` south of the town of Epernay. Pinot Meunier dominates the `Vallee de la Marne`, an area susceptible to frosts, which it is more able to withstand, due to later budding.
The secret of Champagne is in the blend, where wines from different grape varieties and vineyards are blended to achieve the `house style`.
The founder, Armand-Raphaël Graser, left his native Alsace in 1915 and settled in the town of Damery, in an 18th century building which is still the company headquarters today. The house name is derived from the following; A.R. being for Armand-Raphael, and `Lenoble` being a tribute to the nobility of Champagne wines. Today the house is owned by the founder`s great granddaughter, Anne Malassagne and her brother Antoine.
The house owns 18 hectares of vineyards, which provide 60% of their requirements. The Chardonnay vineyards are situated in the Grand Cru village of Chouilly in the `Cote des Blancs`, Pinot Noir from Bisseuil, a Premier Cru in the `Montagne de Reims` and Pinot Meunier from Damery in the `Vallee de la Marne`.
Only made in exceptional years, this Champagne has loads of aroma, a touch of ripe honey and brioche in the fruity flavour. Beautifully structured with an elegant and long finish.
Loads of aroma, a touch of ripe honey and brioche in the fruity flavour. Beautifully structured with an elegant and long finish.
This full champagne with rich, mature aromas should be tasted as an aperitif or with fish cooked in creamy sauces.
Steve Tanzer awarded 91 points.