Vintage-Dated Champagne from Decanter’s Perfect Vintage
Scoring a vintage Champagne for under $50 isn’t rare — it’s a unicorn. But thanks to the relationships our Master Sommelier Sur Lucero managed to forge as sommelier at The French Laundry, Meadowood, The Little Nell, and Daniel Boulud, a tiny 300-bottle allocation of 2008 François Lecompte Premier Cru Champagne is earmarked for Wine Access clients. From the varied soils of Premier Cru village Rilly-la-Montagne, just a stone’s throw from legendary Champagne house Vilmart, the 2008 Lecompte is estate-grown and grower-made: a partially oak-aged blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier that spent a generous seven years resting in Lecompte’s chalk caves. Champagne producers only make vintage wines in exceptional seasons, and 2008 was the cream of the crop — a 5/5 according to the experts at Decanter, who called it “something special” and praised its “powerful fruit and scintillating acidity.” This bubbly will last a decade. But our 25 cases might not last a day.
Grower Champagnes may be enjoying their moment, but they are not just a recent phenomenon: The famed Vilmart house has operated since 1890 in the Premier Cru village of Rilly-la-Montagne. Right next door stands the winery of Françoise Lecompte, which was founded 14 years earlier. Still, Lecompte — sharing the same hallowed soils as its legendary neighbor but whose website has yet to be translated from the French — flies well under the radar.
Which is fine by us — that’s how we get our hands on vintage Champagne from the finest season in the last decade and a half. The 2008 Lecompte leaves vintage Champagne’s stringent standards in the dust, aging far beyond the required 36 months. The result is a toasty, golden-apple depth that harmonizes with the limestone-and-lemon freshness of non-vintage Champagne. This beauty is ready for the dinner table, or for a decade in the cellar.