Henriot Hemera 2008, Union of Terroirs

Henriot Hemera 2008, Union of Terroirs.

Recently our Sven Heijkoop was invited by Wijnkooperij de Lange to Leiden, to the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands. Present was Alice Tétienne, cellar master of Champagne House Henriot, for the launch of the 2008 vintage of their Cuvée Hemera.

Maison Henriot

The Champagne region has a long history and Maison Henriot has played an important role in this region throughout time. It is one of the few houses that remains independent and family-owned, since its foundation in 1808 by Apolline Henriot. For more than two centuries, eight generations of the Henriot family have continued to pay tribute to Apolline by perpetuating her vision of vine and wine.

With a vineyard of 35 hectares, the champagnes of the Maison Henriot are produced in part from the most beautiful terroirs of the Premier and Grand Crus of the Côte des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims, two of the three emblematic areas in Champagne.

Alice Tétienne

Alice Tétienne cellar master of Maison Henriot, took the floor and invited us to the tasting tables. Normally she is in the vineyards or cellar, but she is happy to join us for this occasion. With a charming sense of humor, she calls herself far from original; she was born in the Champagne region, grew up there and she makes Champagne, so a very boring story. 

Alice sees it as her responsibility to guard the Henriot’s legacy and guide them into the future, with respect for her predecessors. She joined Henriot 3 years ago, to maintain quality and respond to changes “such as the climate”. 

Together with her team she is responsible for some instrumental projects, of which one of the most important centers around “the vineyards”. The vineyards and terroir are very important for Henriot and the quality of their Champagne. Thereafter Alice’s motto is “Wine is Written in the Vines”.

Cuvée Hemera

In 1808, when Apolline Henriot founded the House, her vineyards were located in the heart of the Montagne de Reims in the crus of Verzy, Verzenay and Maily-Champagne. In 1880, thanks to the marriage of Paul Henriot (4th generation of the family) and Marie Marguet, a young girl from the Côte des Blancs, three more crus have joined the Henriot vineyards: Avize, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Chouilly.

As a symbol of this union of terroirs, the Henriot family decided to create a Champagne named Henriot Hemera, only produced in exceptional vintages. The Cuvée consists of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (50/50 in the 2008 vintage). All six vineyards contribute in equal parts to this vintage Champagne, named after Hemera, the Greek goddess of Day and Light.

The 2008 Vintage

2008 was completely different from 2006, the previous vintage for Hemera. It was a perfect year looking from a climatological perspective. Perfect but not boring. Rain but not too much, sun but not too much. Henriot was able to choose a perfect time to harvest the grapes, in which the acids, sugars and aromatics have ripened optimally. Out of the different contributing vineyards Verzenay was the most crucial for this vintage. It gives the vintage a certain elegance with depth and fine acidity.

The Wine

Now to the wine itself, a beautiful glass showcasing the best Henriot has to offer. On the nose a pure, Champagne style which is generous with a mineral touch and a little flint. In the background a slight hint of tarragon and a light toasting to support the wine.

On the palette this glass offers you a punctual and delicate style, with some emerging development in the background. The fresh fruit still has the upper hand but slowly starts to make way here. The wine is framed by fine acids that make it pure and comfortable. This Hemera is a polyvalent wine with richness and lots of character, a blend with six faces that will show themselves in different ways.

An excellent representation of the region, house and the iconic vineyards. We award this 2008 Hemera with a well-deserved 96 point DWA score, and even see it moving up a bit with a few years of extra cellar ageing. Well done Henriot and Alice.

This review was covered by our own Sven Heijkoop. Henriot Champagne is imported in the Netherlands by Wijnkooperij de Lange, and available through selected partners. We would like to thank Alice Tétienne and Maison Henriot for this opportunity and for creating this great wine.