Benoit Lahaye Millesime Grand Cru 2008


There is a lot to love with this Benoit Lahaye Millesime Grand Cru 2008 Champagne. Concentrated old vine fruit with great depth of flavour.

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Oh wow. Tasted in a trio of Millesime 2008 Champagne it was certainly the most interesting. The blend is 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from vines that are over 50 years old. There is 3 g/l of dosage and the wine was disgorged March 2014. It opened up as it warmed and the bubbles dissipated to show a glorious wine. Concentrated and wine like with ripe stone fruits, dark cherries and a stony/chalky finish. Light and focused on the palate, it is great drinking now but will easily evolve with time in the bottle to be richer and build on the lean bones.

Benoit Lahaye has only 4.8ha of vines to work with. He sells most of his wine to private customers so we mere mortals have to jump on his wines when we see them available. Taking over his fathers domaine in 1993 and converting it to biodynamics in due course. The house style is elegant, dry and true to vintage and terroir. These are outstanding wines.


A wine region of France approximately 160km East of Paris. It is also the name of the wines produced from the area. Most famously it is a sparkling wine that undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle and is aged on lees. Although there is the occasional still wine you can find around particularly Pinot Noir. The fantastically named Bouzy Rouge is one such example. There are very few single vintage, single vineyard, single variety Champagnes (I can only name one and it was produced only 47 times between 1900 and 1999). Why? Due to the large area the region covers, and the challenging weather the houses blended wines to produce a consistent and reliable product every year. This is where the growers come in. They relish the chance to show off vintage variation and small plot wines.

Pinot Noir

This is the most elusive grape. It is relatively early ripening and extremely sensitive to terroir. Its perfect place on earth is the Cote d’Or in Burgundy. So haunting are great red Burgundy’s charms that growers everywhere try to emulate them. Pinot Noir is not just a one trick pony, it can make great reds, rosé, sparkling and even sweet wines, whites on occasion and I’ve tasted a decent fortified Pinot Noir too. Adding body, perfume and richness to Champagne it also adds red berry and floral/rose petal notes along with spice and subtle layers.


The grape that you can plant anywhere, in any climate and do anything to and it will still taste like an OK wine. When people hit the sweet spot of site, climate, cropping and winemaking, Chardonnay becomes a magical wine that will age gracefully but charm you at any age. Chardonnays can range from cool climate lean and citrusy to warmer climate tropical and overt. Oak and lees can add flavouring as can malolactic fermentation. In a Champagne context Chard can add mineral flavours, stone fruits and acidity along with some weight of fruit.

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