Pierre Moncuit, Champagne Extra Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs
Pierre Moncuit, Champagne Extra Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs

Pierre Moncuit, Champagne Extra Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs

Champagne, France 2012 (750mL)
Regular price$100.00

Pierre Moncuit, Champagne Extra Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs

Regular SommSelect readers will know the name Pierre Moncuit well; for years, the Moncuit family has been a prime source for superlative Côte des Blancs bottlings. Today’s offer is the apogee of our longtime devotion to this clan and their craft, a bottle in which the sparkling wine stars align and result in the ultimate bottle for your season of celebration. Pierre Moncuit’s 2012 Blanc de Blancs checks every box: Grand Cru terroir, now-legendary vintage, and over a decade of age all make for a Blanc des Blancs that roars out the gate with a head spinning combination of mineral elegance and luxuriant depth. Most importantly, unlike similarly-performing wines, it comes in at a price that allows us to open a few bottles a year, not a few bottles a lifetime. We’re going to have a ready supply on hand at our homes through the end of the year (and beyond), and suggest you do the same!

The Moncuit family’s home is smack-dab in the center of some of the world’s greatest Chardonnay vineyards, in the Grand Cru village Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Mesnil’s limestone soils are famed for the tension and chalky presence they bring to a wine. The Moncuits have called Mesnil home since the late 19th century, and to this day the village’s vines make up three-quarters of their holdings. And their vines are some of the oldest in the area; whereas it’s commonplace for many Champagne growers to replant vines after they reach about 25 years of age and their yield starts dropping, the Moncuits haven’t replanted in over three decades. As a result, the wines have a vinous depth uncommon in even a lot of grower Champagne, the perfect contrast to Mesnil’s signature mineral rigor. 

In the mid-1950s, when Pierre Moncuit took over the family estate, he began bottling the family’s wine rather than selling the fruit to the big houses. That makes them one of the pioneers of the grower-producer movement that’s taken over the region. Pierre’s daughter Nicole has been in charge since 1977, and she’s preparing to hand the reins off to the next generation. Regardless of who’s in charge, the family’s commitment to the village and its Chardonnay runs profoundly deep. They bottle no fewer than four single-village, single-vintage Blanc des Blancs’ – of which today’s is one – with no reserve wine ever added. Even their “standard” bottling, technically labeled as non-vintage, is a single vintage wine. These are rarefied terroir-driven Champagnes, profoundly pure looks into a special corner of Champagne at a single point in time, and when the Moncuits declare a vintage on a bottle’s label, you can be confident it’s in celebration of a special year.

From a viticultural perspective, 2012 doesn’t exactly sound like a dream vintage in Champagne. It started wet and cold, with uneven flowering and high disease pressure. But in August, everything changed and the last two months of the season were defined by ample sunshine and warm temperatures. No one was really sure what to expect when they first harvested the fruit. To say winemakers were surprised by the results would be an understatement. The wines thrum with the fruit and power of warm-vintage Champagne, while maintaining the core of chalky structure and vigorous minerality of cool vintages. With a decade or so to look back on, 2012 now looks like one of the best vintages in decades, approaching the profundity of 2008 or 1996. 

The duality of power and grace that marks 2012 is on full display with Moncuit’s Extra Brut Blanc des Blancs, which fermented and aged in stainless steel for a year and then aged for three years en tirage, followed by eight (!) more years in bottle before release. Definitely serve this in all-purpose glasses to allow the aromatics plenty of room to unfurl. The 2012 Extra Brut pours a vibrant gold with straw edges, and the nose roars out of the glass with every manner of golden-hued beauty. Creamed apple, pear skin, toasted brioche, freshly roasted almonds, churned butter, hay, acacia flower, and spiced honey lead things off, atop it all Mesnil’s profound chalky impact. The palate is rich and vinous, bordering on creamy thanks to all that time on lees, pulverized rock minerality thrumming through it and providing focus. It’s beautifully open and rearing to go now, but I suspect it will age beautifully for as long as you can hang onto it. No matter what holidays you’re celebrating in the coming months, Moncuit is the wine to have!

Pierre Moncuit, Champagne Extra Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs

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