Another of this year’s success stories in the Most Admired Champagne Brands is family-run – a family whose history in the Champagne region dates back to the first half of the 17th century, while the house of Henriot was established in 1808. Henriot has risen further than any other top-30 brand, moving up 10 places from 23 to 13.
After some uncertainty about the direction of the business following the death of patriarch Joseph Henriot in April 2015, things have settled down with his nephew, Gilles de Larouzière, now heading up a wider business that includes Bouchard Père et Fils in Beaune and William Fèvre in Chablis. There’s a great synergy between these three renowned brands in that top-quality Chardonnay production is a central facet of their business. This was emphatically demonstrated at a dinner in London last November at which the stars were Grand Cru Chablis Les Clos 2005, Grand Cru Burgundy Corton Charlemagne 1955 and the all Grand Cru prestige Cuvée Enchanteleurs 1959. Thanks to Joseph Henriot’s generosity it’s the third time I’ve drunk the latter champagne, one of the greatest fizzes I’ve tasted.
Henriot is very much a Chardonnay-led house – although Enchanteleurs is a 50/50 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend – its Brut Souverain NV contains around 50%, considerably more than most other houses. Its flagship Souverain Blanc NV is a 100% Chardonnay style blended from a range of top crus for the variety, including Côte des Blancs villages Mesnil, Chouilly, Avize and Vertus, but also Montgueux and Trépail, both famous for different styles of Chardonnay, one rich and full-bodied, the latter powerful, lean and long-lived. It gets the extra time in bottle that wines of such pedigree demand to show more complex expression.