It took me a while to get round to visiting the delightful house of De Venoge which is now, as of 2015, situated at 33 Avenue de Champagne. I feel stupid having not put it high on my list of venues in Epernay, upon discovering it’s amazing history and wonderful vinoteque! Rarely have I received such a wonderful welcome.
Founded in 1837 by Henri-Marc de Venoge it quickly rose to become the third biggest producer by the end of the nineteenth century, producing around 1 million bottles. The labels, much mocked in my early years of getting to know Champagne, are a throw back to his ingenuity as he was the first to create illustrated and colour labels back in 1838. As with many negociants, De Venoge’s history is littered with stories of pioneering family members travelling to far flung places in search of Champagne drinkers. And although that history is not forgotten there is a sense, and it certainly comes across when tasting the new releases of Princes, that they are looking to the future. You can literally taste it. A freshness and vivacity that caught me a bit by surprise. There is also a real presence of terroir in the nose and palate. This is down to some fabulous juice coming from Mesnil sur Oger, Trepail, Les Riceys and Verzenay.
The Extra Brut shows a lovely smokey front end with a powerful rich mid palate given by it’s heavy use of Pinot Noir from Les Riceys. It is really expansive and warm.
Brut Cordon Bleu shows a noticeable hike in sugar compared to the Extra Brut, which covers the rich fruity mid palate. It is more playful and less serious.
The range of Princes, Blanc de Blancs, Pinot Noir and Rose, have stepped in to cover Cuvee des Princes which was stopped in 1995 to be replaced by Louis XV.
The Princes Blanc de Blancs, an 80/20 blend of Mesnil and Trepail, sings Trepail on the nose and has a deliciously apple ladened palate. It is, as noted above, surprising how much the villages come out in the fruit.
The Prince Pinot Noir, an 80/20 blend of Les Riceys and Verzenay, again sings each respective village and is a brute of a wine. All warm and spicey with blackcurrant and bitter grapefruit.
The Princes Rose, a similar blend to the Pinot Noir but with 7% red wine from Les Riceys, shows much more elegance on the palate and lovely dried fruits. The Les Riceys component being more present on the nose.
I do feel along with the other Princes that these wines deserve a touch more post disgorgement ageing.
With the 1995 vintage Cuvee Louis XV hit the market and Cuvee des Princes was no more. Rather than 100% Chardonnay, De Venoge moved to a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Louis XV 2006 is made up of mainly Mesnil sur Oger and Cramant for the Chardonnay and Verzenay and Mailly for the Pinot Noir. There is a real step up in complexity on the palate and a lovely expansive warmth. I have noted a touch of maturity but I hope this is just bottle variation.
Delicious as they are I reserved my real judgement for the vinoteque wines. What is so fabulous about De Venoge is what happens when you get a little bit of bottle age. Having tried a number of wines back through to the seventies, and most original disgorgement, they are a delight. They pick up all of the delicious biscuit, honey and chocolate notes that I love but never sit heavy on the palate. I was amazed recently on trying a vertical back to 79 just how delicate and laced with finesse the wines were. It is very rare with Champagnes that I can say that I could happily drink a 30 year old Champagne all night but with De Venoge you really can!
Several of these vinoteque wines are available to purchase for private clients…get friendly with them now!!
Region: La Vallee De La Marne
Contact: Gilles de la Bassetiere
Cuvée De Prestige: Louis XV
Parent Group: Lanson BCC
Year Founded: 1837
Style: Light, elegant, finesse.
Recent Tasting Notes from De Venoge
De Venoge Princes magnum 2000
Tasted:June 28, 2014
Lovely nutty nose. Creamy. Very faded mid palate. Nice flavours. Touch of butter and cinnamon. Real brioche notes. Nice rich …read more…