I almost couldn’t believe it when I got the invitation to the very exclusive Hotel du Marc. Even when the chauffeur approached the very closed entrance door, I felt like maybe they would not open and it was all just a big joke. They did open to reveal the 19th century, roman-stoned discreet private house. The Hotel du marc is Veuve Clicquot’s private house, an hotel by name only. It is reserved for friends, family, business associates and as it seems so, press mate as me too. Invitations reaches only around 2500 persons per year. It is said that once you’ve seen the Hotel de Marc, you can never come back as it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. To which I say, challenge accepted.
It has quite the history as this was the very home of Madame Clicquot in 1840. It was one of the rare buildings in Reims to be spared by both world wars except for some minor scratches. The whole place was redecorated from head to toe in 2011 by in-demand Paris architect and designer Bruno Moinard. Each of the six bedrooms are inspired by a different country, culture and the main hallway leading to the suites shows imposing contemporary interpretation of the famous family portraits. I would not have expected anything less from the decor than the yellow-highlighted sophisticated design with everywhere, a touch of spark and eccentricity. Everything has the Clicquot touch, up to the bathrooms floors bearing Clicquot’s comet.
We were welcomed by a handful of waiters, white gloves obliged, and our cheerful and so friendly host and house’s ambassador, Camille Berdin. After some first delicious bites and appetitive glass of bubbly in one of the various salons or in this case more of a library, we took place in the dining room, a frame of incredible elegance with open view on the gardens. Dishes and Champagnes succeeded one another, all in perfect harmony. King crab, Miso Burrata with the vintage 2008, fantastic lamb with the rosé 2008, Cheeses with an original Bouzy red 2003, and a perfectly carafe-served Demi-sec with the light touch of a strawberry/rhubarb dessert. It’s was an intimate experience I will remember, take pride and brag about all my life.
Remember back in 2008, when Monsieur Dominique Demarville took on the rôle of Cellar Master at our beloved Veuve Clicquot? Well, his very first vintage of La Grande Dame prestige Cuvée is about to be released and it’s surprising to say the least!
La Grande dame 2008 is to be considered as a new face and a turning point for this iconic Champagne. There was a reworking of the blends involved for the Prestige Cuvée. While the 06′ was absolutely voluminous, 08′ is sharper and keener, with a rarity, purity of elegance. The paradox is that this wine full of tension is made of 92% Pinot majorly from Verzy. The house has to look for Pinots on tension and finesse rather than consistency and fruitiness. When asked why they didn’t choose to make a Blanc de Noirs, Mr Demarville simply and accurately answered: “The best Blanc de Noirs are the ones with a little touch of Chardonnay!”
2008 was the perfect vintage, not a hint of rotten with a slow maturity from the decent diurnal shift. Although the quality of the vintage was expected, it wasn’t showing right away. Rather lean at first, it took some years to really show its density and potential.
You’ve probably heard it before, but one of the big advantages of Clicquot resides in their reserve wines. Those wines are a collection of great wines and flavours, a library of all the specificity and past elements that previously made what Clicquot is. It is the only way to obtain perfect balance and consistency each and every time, giving identity. The potential of this library was put to test and brilliantly succeeded in the new Extra Brut, Extra old label, which makes so much sense. It’s a humongous total of 120 000 hectoliters, kept on lees, of past vintage dating back to 1988. Their oldest is a small 50 hectoliters tank with 1988 chardonnay from Cramant. These reserve wines tends to become very stable with time and this specific one seems like it didn’t’ take a wrinkle in the last 10 years. In 2009, the house didn’t make any Vintage nor Grande Dame, they preferred to keep the vintage as reserve. The vintage might be missed but this was necessary to with stand 2010 & 2011 vintages that were disastrous.