I have admired this house since encountering a delicious 1976 vintage on an early visit to Champagne. The holdings are all in the villages of Moussy and Pierry, just south of Epernay and just above the start of the Cote des Blancs. Their spacious buildings are testimony to the scale of their former operations. Now they are content to sell off the majority of their grapes to other houses while retaining the best for themselves, all of which are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Production is now down to a scant 50,000 bottles a year, and they show no hurry to sell anything! One of the attractions is their considerable library of old vintages for sale — including a significant quantity of 1990 in Methusalem! (Moussy)
It is mindboggling to think how patiently Renaudin has held onto this stock of huge bottles from a landmark vintage, disgorging them to order, as they did for us. Suffice it to say that the wine turned heads when we poured it at our inaugural champagne tastings in 2017, not just because of its outsized proportions but on account of its perfect evolution and preternatural freshness.
Another miracle of suspended animation, this was Renaudin’s chosen Millennium wine. Ignore, if you will, the questionable bottle and concentrate instead on the preternatural verve and brightness of the flavours. 1996 is a controversial vintage, but this is one of those examples that bolsters its claim to being among the handful of great post-war vintages. That such a wine has remained undisgorged at the property until now is baffling, but we are not looking a gift horse in the mouth. This initial shipment was mostly snapped up on arrival, so look for more in the future, together with the Mathusalems of 1990. Being in MAGNUMS has only accentuated the wine’s slow evolution. It has decades of life ahead of it.
We snapped up the last stocks of this great vintage, barely believing our luck. Partly because they block the malolactic fermentation, “L’Espiègle” always shows especially vibrantly, which is a perfect foil to the luxuriance of the vintage. Another wine for the long haul, that spent ten months in barrel. Look for the 2001 vintage to follow it soon.