Best of the Best 2011: International White Wines: Henriot 1996 Brut Champagne Cuvée des Enchan­teleurs

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Family-owned houses in Champagne sadly have become as rare as some of the region’s most exquisite têtes de cuvées as, one by one, the establishments are absorbed by large corporations. Of the handful of producers to hold on to their legacies, none is more passionate about tradition than the Henriot family. The Henriot 1996 Brut Champagne Cuvée des Enchan­teleurs (www.champagne-henriot.com, $210) honors the brand’s long heritage. This Chardonnay-dominated wine is named for the cellar workers responsible for hoisting the barrels onto gantries for aging. As a reward for their work, they were allowed to create their own cuvée, though it is difficult to imagine that they achieved anything to compare with this wine’s lilac aromas, dense minerality, savory pastry notes, and flavors of candied citrus.

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