The holiday season sparkles brighter with a glass of Henriot Souverain brut nonvintage champagne.
Henriot (pronounced ahn-Re-oh) was founded in 1808 by Apolline Henriot, the widow of Nicholas Simon Henriot. It remains family-owned and directed by the seventh generation, Stanislas Henriot, who succeeded his father, Joseph, in 1999.
Both were in New York earlier this year where they presented a tour de force of Henriot champagne. Beginning with their Souverain brut nonvintage, they proceed with a procession of outstanding vintage champagnes from 1996, 1995, 1990, 1976, 1964 and 1959, all made under the direction of Joseph Henriot. Quality was in every glass.
Being family-owned differs Henriot from many champagne houses as the champagne business has become increasingly part of large corporate structures. Henriot also differs in its exclusive use of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes forsaking pinot meunier, the third permissible grape allowed in Champagne and the least flavorful.
Making vintage champagne doesn’t always tell you about dedication to quality as the producer has nature’s gift of very good to excellent fruit from that harvest. It is nonvintage champagne where you witness the commitment to excellence.
Henriot’s laser-like focus on quality is best understood with its least expensive champagne, Souverain brut non-vintage. It is made from a blend of 60-percent pinot noir and 40-percent chardonnay, aged from two to three years and blended with a range of older vintages to create a consistently full-bodied style.
These high standards contrast with other champagne houses cutting corners with their nonvintage wine by aging only the minimum 15 months required by Champagne regulations; putting 25 percent to 40 percent of the weaker pinot meunier grape in the champagne; and adding only a limited amount of older reserve wine to the blend.
Henriot Souverain brut non-vintage has an eye-catching stream of tiny bubbles that push the scents of freshly baked bread and lemons to the pleasure area of the brain. The high percentage of chardonnay in the blend and the addition of older reserve wines results in a richness lacking in many other nonvintage champagnes.
Full-bodied, elegantly textured with crisp apple and lemon-like flavors that are supported by citrus-like acidity, Henriot Souverain brut nonvintage has a luxurious feel on the palate that raises this basic champagne to a premium level.
Henriot’s Souverain brut non-vintage will surely enliven any holiday reception or party, but it will also be a wonderful partner to seafood, poultry or Asian foods.
Henriot Souverain brut nonvintage retails for approximately $55.