Damnit, I love this champagne. “This” is the José Dhondt “Mes Vieilles Vignes” Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut, non-vintage, dhondt.jpg another of the small houses, the “grower” champagnes, that are earning a great deal of attention now, as opposed to the large major houses whose champagnes often seem to lack individuality. “Mes Vieilles Vignes” means that the vines are old (how old we don’t know); “Grand Cru” means that the grapes came from a very small regulated selection of communes at the top of the vineyard hierarchy in Champagne; “Blanc de Blancs” means that the champagne is made from 100 percent chardonnay grapes.

This medium-gold colored champagne is spectacular, elegant and sleek yet rich and impressively substantial in weight and tone. The bouquet offers baked apple, roasted lemon and lime peel with notes of fresh biscuits and bread. It feels wonderful, suave, supple, resonant and lively with crisp acid; intense and concentrated citrus flavors and dried spice, like cloves and cinnamon toast, are subdued in the face of a monumental tide of limestone and chalk for a finish that’s dry, austere and scintillating. Wonderful stuff. I have seen prices as low as the mid $50s but about $70 is more realistic.

This is a “Champagnes et Villages” selection by Becky Wasserman and The Miller Portfolio, for USA Wine Imports, New York.