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Henri Goutorbe, “Special Club” Grand CruÄy, Champagne, France 2008 (750mL)

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Henri Goutorbe, “Special Club” Grand Cru Äy, Champagne, France 2008 (750mL)

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“Special Club.” For those who keep their ears to the ground, no further convincing is needed, because a distinctively shaped bottle carrying these two words instantly qualifies as one of the most respected Champagnes on earth. Out of the many thousands of growers that bottle Champagne, just 28 of them have been appointed to this highly exclusive group—Henri Goutorbe among them.


In 2008, Goutorbe began a ruthless vetting process in order to put this extraordinary Grand Cru prestige cuvée in the patented “Special Club” bottle. We’ll talk more on that below, but for now, let’s dive into the wine in question, because only a few $100 Champagnes can ever hope to match these specs. Coming from one of the most acclaimed vintages of the 21st century, this 70/30 blend of Grand Cru Pinot Noir and Chardonnay aged nearly a dozen years in Goutorbe’s chalk caves before disgorgement. The results are stupendous: This is richly textured, savory, lush Champagne for those who lean towards the luxurious side of the spectrum. Oh, and one more thing: While most Special Club members are releasing their 2014-2016s, today’s 2008 is Goutorbe’s current release. Enjoy.



Have you ever asked why certain French wines warrant $100 price tags? For Burgundy, it’s the hallowed vineyards that have been decreed as the finest terroirs for centuries. As for Bordeaux, the focus lies on the châteaux and the monarchical classification that elevated the best of them. And Champagne, well, it’s a looser version of both—Grand Cru villages, historical intrigue, and an unofficial hierarchy of talent—coupled with the fact that it’s such an alluring drink. However, I could make a strong argument that Champagne is the most deserving of a triple-digit price tag, solely because of the labor and time it takes to produce top bottlings like today’s. 


Now, onto the “Spécial Club” mentioned above. Known as Club Trésors de Champagne since 1999 is one of the most rigorous wine organizations of all. Other than being one of the 28 qualifying members—which happens through private invitation—a series of fortunate events must occur should you want to display “Spécial Club” on your label. First, it must be a Vintage Champagne from a year deemed worthy by the committee. Second, your wine must be blind tasted twice by a nonpartisan panel of enologists and winemakers—once as a base wine and then again after three years of lees aging in bottle. If one of them is voted down, your wine no longer qualifies for the Spécial Club. If it does meet all of the requirements, you qualify to use the club’s specially designed (and trademarked) squat bottle.


If that wasn’t already enough, the current president of this club is René Goutorbe, the son of Henri and the proprietor of Champagne Henri Goutorbe since the 1970s! Today, the estate sits at 25 hectares, six of which are in their home village of Grand Cru Aÿ. These six hectares supplied today’s 2008 bottling, which consists of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. Following fermentation in stainless steel, the resulting wine was blended and transferred into bottle, where it then underwent secondary fermentation and a subsequent maturation that lasted nearly a dozen years. It was disgorged in October of 2020, corked, given a Brut-level dosage, and allowed to rest several more months before exiting their cellar doors. 


Champagne authority Tom Stevenson declares that “Henri Goutorbe is one of the more important growers,” making “excellent rich, well-structured Champagnes” that are “always satisfying to drink.” But when it comes to Goutorbe’s Grand Cru Spécial Club, he always puts them “in a different class.” Today’s 2008 in one such bottling. The mousse is soft and generous, the nose ripe and giving, and the palate full, lush, wonderfully savory, and remarkably energetic. You can expect creamy notes of green and red apple, baked yellow pear, lees, peach, pie crust, lemon curd, white flowers, hazelnut, nougat, crushed white stone, and a touch of button mushroom. This opulent stunner is to be enjoyed now and over the next 5-7 years—I think this will have achieved an entirely new dimension by its 20th birthday so open your bottles conservatively! Cheers!




Henri Goutorbe, “Special Club” Grand Cru Äy, Champagne, France 2008 - SommSelect

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionChampagne
  • Sub-RegionÄy
  • SoilChalk
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendPinot Noir 70%, Chardonnay 30%
  • Alcohol12%
  • Service Temp.50-55° F
  • GlasswareAll-Purpose Stem
  • DrinkNow-2028+
  • DecantingOptional
  • PairingJapanese Gyoza

  • CountryFrance
  • RegionChampagne
  • Sub-RegionÄy
  • SoilChalk
  • FarmingSustainable
  • BlendPinot Noir 70%, Chardonnay 30%
  • Alcohol12%
  • Temp.Serve at 50-55° F
  • GlasswareAll-Purpose Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2028+
  • DecantingOptional
  • PairingJapanese Gyoza