NV Delavenne Pere et Fils Brut Rose
 
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4.11 out of 5 stars and Jean-Louis and Jean-Christophe Delavenne Grand Cru Champagne Rose -- Gold Medal at Epernay

It was 1985 -- our first trip to Champagne as hotshot Manhattan buyers. The pickings were easy. We asked our salesmen to 'set us up' in Reims and Epernay. After that, it was all tapis rouge.

The first stop was Veuve Clicquot. We sipped Yellow Label aperitifs as we toured the labyrinthine caves that weave through the Reims underground. The guide was a knockout, with a face and figure that would have made the cover page of Mademoiselle proud.

Most of the wines, however, were forgettable, all a bit too sweet and yeasty, what we used to call "dressed up for the prom." But who cared? Our egos had been polished. We felt like big shots. We'd "done" Champagne and had the Gucci ties and the Dior cologne to prove it.

The second visit was less memorable. On our third trip to the L'Avenue de Champagne in Epernay (purportedly the wealthiest street in France), the red carpet was frayed at the edges. The Mademoiselle models seemed like mannequins -- and we already had a closet full of ties.

So early on, before critics were even talking about 'grower Champagnes,' we took to the hillside hamlets of the Montagne Reims, seeking out tiny estates, passionately managed by winegrowers blessed with the nose of a perfumer. Annual production was counted in bottles, not cases. The most inventive cellars were turning out brilliant, chalk-infused sparkling wines that reminded us greatly of Grand Cru Burgundy with bubbles.

We first heard about the work of Jean-Louis Delavenne in the late 1990s, but it would take another decade to land an appointment, courtesy of a sommelier introduction. On a warm July morning in 2008, we rang the bell outside the courtyard in Bouzy where one of the Montagne de Reims' most decorated Grand Cru Roses is made.

Jean-Louis Delavenne greeted us warmly, then led us toward the family's modest cellars. There were no high-heeled mannequins. No colorful scarves or Eau de Toilette. We couldn't have cared less, having long since tired of the red carpet treatment. We'd come for the Grand Cru Rose Champagne that had again stunned the les juges Champenois, outpointing the big boys, making off with the Gold Medal at Epernay.

In stark contrast to the stuffed shirt demeanor of L'Avenue de Champagne, Jean-Louis and his son, Jean-Christophe, were charming and understated. We tasted the entire Delavenne lineup over the better part of three hours, listening as Jean-Louis described the gamble he'd taken in breaking away from the negociant stranglehold. Each bottle was drawn from just 10 hectares of hand-tended limestone hillsides, all artisanally vinified in the cellars beneath #6 Rue de Tours in Bouzy. When Jean-Christophe finally popped the Grand Cru Rose, we sprung into action -- only to be courteously smacked down as Jean-Louis explained why we'd never seen a bottle of Delavenne Rose on this side of the Atlantic!

"We produce approximately 6,000 cases of wine each year," Delavenne, Sr. told us three weeks ago in Bouzy. "Last year, we decided to count the number of private clients who come to our cellars every year or two. There are three thousand! Eighty-five percent of our Champagne is sold to them right here on the Rue de Tours. How do we court importers when we have nothing to sell?"

This is the third consecutive year in which WineAccess has carved out a small allocation of this riveting, salmon-pink Grand Cru Rose that -- AGAIN -- walked away with Gold in Epernay.

Salmon-pink in color. Fine bubbles and refined effervescent persistence. Piercing aromas of wild strawberries, cassis, and kirsch. The attack is broad and juicy, infused with blood orange, white peach and rose petals. Wonderfully refreshing and vibrant on the finish with superb length and precision, this blend from the 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintages is one of the finest we've tasted to date chez Delavenne.



Tasting Notes

NV Delavenne Pere et Fils Brut Rose
"Salmon-pink in color. Fine bubbles and refined effervescent persistence. Piercing aromas of wild strawberries, cassis, and kirsch, the attack is broad and juicy, infused with blood orange, white peach and rose petals. Wonderfully refreshing and vibrant on the finish with superb length and precision. Gold Medal at the 2012 Concours in Epernay."
-- WineAccess Travel Log


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    • This is a Pre-Arrival Offer: Weather permitting, wine will begin shipping in September 2013.

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