Armand-Raphael Graser was a wine trader. He left his native Alsace, in enemy hands at the time, and moved his family to safety in the Champagne region. He set up in the town of Damery, in an 18 th -century building which is still the company headquarters today, and started to produce champagne, sold from 1920 onwards under the brand name ‘AR Lenoble’ A.R. stood for Armand-Raphael and Lenoble was a tribute to the nobility of Champagne wines. Armand-Raphael, who died accidentally in the vat-house in 1947, was succeeded by his son Joseph Graser. When he retired in 1973, Jean-Marie Malassagne, the founder’s grandson, took over the business. Combining his activities as a winegrower and his profession as a doctor, he managed the house alone until the 1990’s, when Champagne was hit hard by the crisis. It was becoming necessary to work full-time to run the firm and so, in October 1993, Anne Malassagne, the great-granddaughter of Armand-Raphaël returned to the family firm to support her father. She was joined by her brother Antoine 3 years later. The fourth generation is now firmly established.
There is a lovely sense of completeness to this cuvee, layers of sweet pastry and ripe fruits intermingling with zesty citrus that veers towards aromas of candied peel. A spicy bite meanwhile adds personality and depth – a nutty, almost vinous character that comes from patient aging. The rich and silky palate captures all the promise of the vintage, but with a mineral edge on the finish that gives voice to the cru.