Blanc de Blanc ‘Prestige’ 2006 – Champagne Le Mesnil 
Style: Sparkling
Country: France
Region: Champagne
Grape: Champagne | Chardonnay
Score: 90-94
Price: 50-75 euro

Blanc de Blanc ‘Prestige’ 2006 – Champagne Le Mesnil.

In this review our guest writer Daan takes you to Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, a beautiful village in France’s Champagne region. The Champagne house of Le Mesnil holds a special place in his heart, as their ‘regular’ Blanc-de-Blanc has a permanent place in his Champagne stock. But for this occasion, we are moving up a tier, with the vintage Blanc-de-Blanc, the 2016 Prestige by Champagne Le Mesnil.

About the Region

The Côte de Blanc in Champagne is located south of Epernay and is known for its use of the (almost) exclusively white grape variety, Chardonnay. This grape is planted in more than 97% of the vineyards. The rest of the plantings consist of the well-known Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.

The vineyards of Le Mesnil are Grand Cru classified and are all located in Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger. The village is one of the 7 Grand-Cru vineyards of the Côte de Blanc and, together with the surrounding Grand-Cru villages, is known for its eastern location and the large proportion of lime and chalk in the soil. This chalk soil, which spreads over the twenty-kilometer-long ridge, is the ideal substrate for Chardonnay. A chalk base does not dry out quickly, which is useful on hot days, it drains excess water well and the light-colored base ensures more reflection of sunlight. With dark vineyard soil, the heat of the sun is retained for longer and this heat also radiates onto the vines at night. The chalk soil, on the other hand, gives the grapes the opportunity to cool down at night and therefore retain more acidity, crucial for a Blanc-de-Blanc Champagne.

The Chardonnay grape is an early runner and therefore vulnerable to spring frost. The eastern location of the vineyards is therefore ideal, the rising sun radiates its heat onto the grapes early in the morning, giving any frost less time to strike.

About the Winery

After this explanation about the Côte de Blanc, it will not surprise you that the entire production of this winery from ‘Mesnil’ consists of Chardonnay. The terroir of Mesnil-Sur-Oger generally gives a more mineral undertone to the wine and provides that typical fresh and pure style of a Blanc-de-Blanc Champagne.

The winery itself was founded in 1937 after purchasing a piece of land and buildings from the Maison Henriot winery. Because Le Mesnil’s production was still so small at that time, the house survived the war without too much damage. In the 1950’s services were increasingly provided for other cooperatives such as pressing and bottling. This generated so much work that it was expanded and the union des propriétaires récoltants was founded. Over decades, the UPR expanded and today has a total of 784 members and 324 hectares of affiliated vineyards. Together with the wines of Le Mesnil, three and a half million kilos of grapes were pressed in 2021 and the cellar is filled with 7,400,000 bottles.

About the Wine

Now let’s get to the wine itself. A seventeen-year-old Champagne is not your every-day-glass-of-bubbles, and the day before Daan’s birthday was a perfect occasion to open this bottle. 

The vines have an average age of forty years and are oriented slightly more southerly than average. After harvest and alcoholic fermentation, the wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation, in order to retain just a little more freshness and in the words of Le Mesnil: 

“In order to retrain all of the Chardonnay character”.

A beautiful straw yellow color in the glass and a subdued mousse when pouring. We must say that the nose is immediately very promising! Incredibly rich and complex. Lemon peel, apricots and toasted brioche. The taste is very refined, layered, initially you notice the soft mousse, completely balanced, beautiful acidity, oyster shell, good fruit and a hint of toast and brioche.

Le Mesnil ‘Prestige’ 2006 is simply top notch. Personally, we think this wine can last for a few more years, but you certainly don’t have to wait for it. With this flagship from Mesnil up to the ‘entry-level’ brut, the house shows that they present a nice line-up across the board. 100% Chardonnay and all Grand Cru, distinctive and not unimportant, with a fair quality-price ratio. 

We happily reward this vintage Blanc-de-Blancs with at 94-point DWA score.

This Champagne was reviewed by Daan, who you can find on Instagram under his account ‘Mijn Wijn Hobby’Champagne Le Mesnil is imported and sold by Petit Clos (online and in their stores) at a price of €69,95.

Price:                          €69,95

Taste date:                December 2023

Score:                         94/100 DWA Score

Website:                    Champagne Le Mesnil