While I love traveling, there's no denying that the first glass of champagne upon returning home again is extremely satisfying. Diebolt-Vallois is a producer that I am particularly fond of, and when I want to treat myself really well, it's often a Diebolt wine that I reach for in the cellar. This bottle of Cuvée Prestige is sheer joy, with rich aromas of ripe summer fruit and tropical citrus pinned down by the incisive chalkiness so typical of Cramant. It feels concentrated, harmonious and complete, its sense of minerality intensifying as it moves back on the palate. Although it's delicious now, I think I'll put away a few bottles of this tirage (LP05) to watch it develop more complexity and maturity—as the fruit settles down and the minerality emerges even more into the foreground, this should be very exciting.
The Cuvée Prestige is usually blended from three vintages, although very rarely it's two, and Diebolt has said that it can be up to four, although I don't ever remember a recent blend containing four years. (By the way, while this is a "non-vintage" wine, it shouldn't be mistaken for the basic brut sans année: the Cuvée Prestige is, along with the vintage-dated Fleur de Passion, one of the top wines of the cellar.) There is a lot number on the label indicating the mise en bouteille, so the current release, LP05, was bottled in 2005, meaning that it's based on the 2004 harvest, with reserves from 2003 and 2002. The base wine is fermented in cuve, while the reserve wines are aged in 40-hectoliter foudres: the proportion of reserve wine varies according to the base year, and can be anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of the blend.
Historically the Cuvée Prestige has been pure Cramant, and the heart of the blend is a selection of old vines in the lieu-dit of Les Pimonts, located in the sunny, east-facing amphitheater of prime vineyard land just south of the village itself. Future releases, however, will include a tiny drop of Chouilly (it's only a 20-are parcel just over the border), and, although I suppose this is still a secret and I shouldn't tell you, the LP07 will contain a splash of Le Mesnil for the first time ever. We won't see that for a couple more years, but I'm quite curious to taste it—the pairing of Jacques Diebolt and Le Mesnil sounds like a winner to me.
Diebolt-Vallois is imported into the United States by Martine's Wines, Novato, CA, and Petit Pois Corp./Sussex Wine Merchants, Moorestown, NJ. For the Cuvée Prestige, Martine's Wines suggests a retail price of $66.