Reims based House Champagne de Castelnau is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year and marking the occasion with the launch of its first ever prestige cuvée named Hors Catégorie.
The 3,500 numbered bottles of Hors Catégorie were disgorged in November 2015 with a light dosage of 6g of sugar per litre, and are now being made available in France and to export markets including the UK.
The blend of Hors Catégorie is 55% Pinot Noir, 28% Pinot Meunier and 17% Chardonnay, selected from 15 top quality base wines from the 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintages. The 2008 and 2009 components were matured for 12 months in oak barrels, many of which are made of oak from Champagne de Castelnau’s nearby Argonne forest, adding a local touch to this special wine launched in its centenary year and “enhancing the nose unlike any other oak, with fresh baked bread, cherry stones, smoke and cocoa” according to winemaker Elisabeth Sarcelet.
Hors Catégorie has been made using a lower fermentation pressure level of 5 bars in order to create a ‘petite mousse’, allowing full appreciation of the subtle, delicate flavours and elegance of the wine. Also, reflecting Champagne de Castelnau’s practice of extensive lees ageing, Hors Catégorie was aged on its lees for five years, allowing this deluxe blend to develop harmony and balance.
Summing up the style, winemaker Elisabeth Sarcelet says: “Hors Catégorie has buttery hints which soften and round out the wine’s natural minerality giving a truly sensual texture. This is a Champagne of finesse and elegance and, to me, its gently toasty style adds to the highly distinctive flavours on the finish.”
Keith Isaac MW, who heads up Castelnau Wine Agencies in the UK, had this to say about the new release: “Known for exceptional quality and a distinctive lees-aged style, the range of Champagnes from de Castelnau can be found on many prestigious UK wine lists, including the recent addition of British Airways Club Europe and Club World. The launch of Hors Catégorie is an exciting step in the centenary year of the House and offers the opportunity for further premium distribution.”
The name Hors Catégorie signifies the exceptional quality of the wine and is a nod to Champagne de Castelnau’s involvement as Exclusive Champagne of the Tour de France in which the most difficult climbs to conquer are named Hors Catégorie or ‘beyond categorisation’.
Hors Catégorie comes in a black and white presentation box, reflecting the subtle and delicate style of the wine and its RRP in the UK is £85.00. It is available from Castelnau Wine Agencies.
1 July 2016 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor