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A perfect illustration of Maison Henriot’s mastery of the assemblage, this cuvee is composed in equal parts of pinot noir and chardonnay, conferring elegance on its complex structure. Produced with respect for family tradition, this cuvee - which comes exclusively from Champagne’s Grands Crus - is made only in exceptional years.
The name “Enchanteleur” borne by this rare wine refers to the cellar workers in the days when vinification was carried out only in barrels. Their work consisted in particular of piling up the casks on wooden beams. It was said that they “put the casks on chantiers (gantries)”, that they “enchantelaient”... They traditionally enjoyed the privilege of making for themselves a small Champagne cuvée produced from the finest wines.
The 1996 vintage
A mild, dry and very sunny January was followed by a glacial February. Temperatures dropped rapidly, but a strong north wind prevented the frost from penetrating the vines. Budburst occurred in mid-April but the frosts returned at the start of May, accompanied by some precipitation, thus slowing down the vine’s growth. After a warm, sunny start to June, then a brutal drop in temperatures, flowering started in mid-June. The summer alternated rainy spells and very hot stretches but, fortunately, it was blue sky during the first weeks of September, with the harvest starting on 14 September. The 1996 vintage can be qualified as exceptional, with wines that will see long ageing.
Up to this point 1996 has been considered a fantastic vintage which produced classic wines; the best since 1990. A long, dry summer produced grapes of record ripeness with record acidity. Some, including myself, question how the 1996s are aging. The wines are generally characterized by a distinctive rather lemony acidity and very good attack, but some wines now seem terribly austere, while others already seem dangerously short of fruit. None of the subsequent vintages are quite as distinctive as 1996, which in the more successful cases should almost certainly be drunk after the 1999s.