Limited stock, changing to 2006 vintage soon. An extremely cold winter, with snow on the Montagne de Reims, gave way to an unexpected warm spell with moderate rain showers. A little frost was noted in the most vulnerable areas. Spring was early and wet, while May was particularly hot and dry. Rain at the end of June did not affect flowering, which took place under excellent, nearly heat wave, conditions. Rain and hot weather alternated at the beginning of summer, encouraging the vines to grow rapidly. August was dry and sunny, perfect for ripening the grapes. After a grey and cloudy two weeks at the beginning of September, the weather turned, providing the ideal dry climate to harvest the grapes, which were in superb condition. The basic blend is made up of 64% Pinot Noir grapes from the Grands Crus at Ay, in the Vallee de la Marne, and at Verzenay, Verzy, Ambonnay and Bouzy in the Montagne de Reims. The blend also includes 36% Chardonnay grapes from three Grands Crus: Avize, Oger and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in the Cote des Blancs. La Grande Dame 1998 has a pale gold colour with jade glints. The wine is crystal clear, with unbelievably fine bubbles. On the first nose, typical Chardonnay characteristics come to the fore, with the arrival of floral and mineral aromas (acacia, ferns, chalk). By agitating the wine, scents of candied fruit (citrusfruits, apricots, quince) and sweet almond emerge, to reappear later in the mouth. After rotating the wine for a few minutes more, rare notes such as peaty malt, tobacco and delicate herbs, are gradually unveiled. This aromatic, impressively complex bouquet is confirmed in the mouth. On the palate, the wine is clear-cut and pure, perfectly balanced with a delightful silky smoothness. La Grande Dame 1998, with its lacelike construction, has a long, lively, and structured finish. This wine has unbelievable ageing potential. The 1998 vintage of La Grande Dame, the quintessence of the Veuve Clicquot style, reaches a peak of refinement, without losing its legendary strength produced by a blend including nearly two-thirds of Pinot Noir.