Benefits of the Beneficio system of the Douro last week touched on by Xoel Cantero Alvarez, Blake Leja, Jeremy Eubanks and Mark Shipway. Obrigado!
This week: Clos du Mesnil
Tell us its history. Where is it located? What are the soils like? Who makes it? What is the current release? What was the first vintage? What grapes is it composed of? Should I ask another question?
As usual, some excellent points already covered in the comment stream on this topic. What I find is to be an interesting is that Krug only acquired Clos du Mesnil in 1971 (previously known as Clos Tarin, owned by Moet et Chandon then Salon) and blended it into the Grande Cuvée until 1979. This not that interesting fact in itself other than any possible motivation by Krug to release Clos du Mesnil as a mono-parcel champagne. The vineyard site itself measures only 1.84 ha in area and is located completely within the heart of the commune of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger (c.f. Clos des Goisses at 5.5 ha). The special attributes of Clos du Mesnil are firstly, the high reaching intact Clos (original records state there was a wall in 1698) that completely surrounds and increases the average growing season temperature within the vineyard compared to surrounding plots in any given year. Secondly Clos du Mesnil is a very tiny vineyard which allows not only high attention to detail in viticulture but also micro plot vinification and highly selective blending. Finally (and arguably most significantly), Clos du Mesnil is a monopole and subsequent lack of any competition in producing this vineyard together with the relatively small volumes released basically means Krug can charge whatever price they want for it (which they do).
So is Clos du Mesnil a great (producer driven) champagne? yes.
Is Clos du Mesnil a truly great vineyard that can perform every year in the same way as a great terroir like Clos des Goisses? Highly questionable...
Does Clos du Mesnil offer the same quality to price as say Pierre Peters Chetillons? Um.. Answers on a postcard please!