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Originally this cuvee has been a private reserve for the Dampierre family and released only in the best vintages. It always comes closed with a hemp thread of French origin. The Chardonnay grapes for this superb champagne come from Oger (50%), from Mesnil-sur-Oger (40%) and Cramant (10%). Family Reserve is a grand cru champagne and a “blanc de blancs”.
Traditional style tying: noblesse oblige
This craft-man’s work dates back to the XVIIIth century. Traditional tying symbolizes French luxury and sets off the elite vintages: Family Reserve and Cuvée Prestige.
A twine seal rather than a metal hood!
When de Dampierre ancestors started to sell their first bottles of great cuvees, they were sealing the corks onto the bottle by mean of a locally produced twine, made of hemp. This tradition had long ago become part of the Dampierre unique identity.
“Ficelage” is the ancestral method of tying the cork to the bottle with twine and is an ageold tradition that requires immense skill: concentration and finesse are essential in the art of tying as in many handicraft, time is here of the utmost importance.
Even an expert only completes 50 corks in an hour. The “ficeleur” ties intricate knots whilst the twine is still attached to the ball and then cuts both ends; this process is repeated twice, forming a cross on the top of the cork.
An unusually warm spring led to early flowering and initial optimism, which soon gave way to disappointment following one of the murkiest summers on record. Overall, 2007 was a difficult vintage saved by last-minute sunshine in late-August. Mildew and rot were the main culprits of the harvest, and the level of gluconic acid rocketed. The harvest began early, on August 24th, and was abundant in volume averaging 14,242 kg/ha. Pinot Meunier posed the biggest problems and Chardonnay clearly outperformed the rest. Many of the iconic prestige cuvée blanc de blancs were successfully produced, such as Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, Ruinart Dom Ruinart, Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Louis and Salon Le Mesnil. Some blended prestige cuvées such as Louis Roederer Cristal and Philipponnat Clos des Goisses were also made. Champagnes from 2007 are typically high in acidity and restrainedly classic in style, but lack the spine and strength of the greatest harvest years. Even if the vintage only receives three stars, its best Chardonnays are well worth seeking and storing.