We just received in a small amount of Champagne Arnould in time for the holidays, including a small allocation of his incomparable, old vine, vintages. Here is some background on him from an article I wrote last year:
Champagne Michel Arnould is our top producers of dry, powerful Pinot based Champagnes. Located on the Mountain of Reims, Verzenay is one of the most exciting and unique terroirs in all of Champagne; the furthest north of all of the Grand Crus, it faces north away from the sun and still manages to produce some of the most powerful Pinot Noir in the region. Some of the locals say that a mysterious warm air current is the explanation for this ripening anomaly; others will say that it is impossible to explain, like the flight of the bumblebee. I love the distinct, hazelnut quality that this special village stamps on its wines, and I feel very lucky to have convinced Mr. Patrick Arnould to sell us some of his great wines.
Patrick is the fifth generation of Champagne Michel Arnould. They own 27 acres in the village of Verzenay, a quite sizable holding in this high rent area. It is planted to 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, which reflects the average plantation for the village. The black Pinot is king here. The Arnould’s have quite a few plots of vines that are very old and positioned in the golden band of the mid slope, where the sun exposure is best. They have a high proportion of old vines (40 to 50 years old) and all of the wines undergo complete malolactic fermentation in stainless steel and enamel vats.
This is what we received:
2008 Michel Arnould "Memoire de Vignes" Brut Champagne $69.99: We only received seven and a half cases of this 2008. This is exclusively old vine Pinot Noir (over 60 years) from the best parcel in Patrick's holdings and he only makes one press load. This is vinous, powerful, black fruited Champagne in the mold of the Vieilles Vignes Francaises from Bollinger. Because of the north-facing exposure, the wine retains its finesse even at the very high level of concentration that it has. Even the fullest cellar should be rearranged for a little of this. Again, patience is needed, but will be greatly rewarded!
2009 Michel Arnould Vintage "Carte d'Or" Brut Champagne $49.99: This wine is a blend of very old vine (50+ years) Verzenay Pinot Noir and Oger Chardonnay in equal proportions. The Chardonnay comes from Delphine Cazals, Olivier Bonville's wife, who trades Patrick for red wine so she can make rose. This is wine exclusively for the patient, as the two terroirs that have come together in this bottle need a lot of time to marry. But when they have had the time, it is a spectacular example of what the care of two growers coupled with the variety of two great terroirs can do, I can't really think of anything to compare the wine to, but it is an experience not to be missed.
2005 Michel Arnould Vintage "Carte d'Or" Brut Champagne (1.5L) $99: Only 36 magnums available. That’s right- Patrick Arnould ages his vintage magnums four extra years on the lees over the 750’s, and then charges you NOTHING for the extra time. Like many Champagne producers, he passionately believes this is the format to drink Champagne out of!
Michel Arnould Carte d'Or Brut Champagne Jeroboam (3L) $225: Only six Jero’s available. These Jero’s missed there vintage labels at the winery… So you will have to guess! The juice is mind blowing!
Michel Arnould "Grand Cuvée" Brut Champagne $39.99: Exclusively from the 2009 harvest, although not labeled as such, this Champagne is composed of two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Chardonnay. The Champagne has a graceful, delicate balance that Verzenay wines sometimes lack but with the signature hazelnut Pinot core. I found it to have creaminess to complement its racy cherry fruit on the palate, and an extraordinarily long, dry finish. It is dosed at 9 grams per liter: very dry! It will age very well… I had the 1990 when it was over 20 years old and it was great!
Michel Arnould Verzenay Brut Rosé Champagne $34.99 Magnums available ($74.99): This rosé bottling is 100% Grand Cru Pinot Noir. The wine is made by assembling multiple vintages and red Coteaux Champenoises sourced from old vines. This lovely Rosé Champagne offers hints of raspberry, strawberry and red currant. It is refined on the palate where the berry notes unfurl into subtle notes of grenadine.
Michel Arnould Verzenay "Reserve" Brut Champagne ($32.99) Magnums ($69.99) and Half bottles ($16.99): This is a blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, entirely from estate vineyards in the Grand Cru of Verzenay. This is a great party Champagne, since it is full of flavor yet refreshing and moreish. The hazelnut Pinot character so unique to the village of Verzenay is pronounced in this wine, and many good tasters have mistaken it for barrel fermented (it is actually all stainless and enamel fermented) when presented the wine blind. The texture is full and the bead is refined. In short, this is a Champagne that you will be proud to serve to your guests, or perhaps not too proud to save for yourself!
A toast to you!