Last week our friend Ernie told me that his son Jason was hosting a Zoom tasting of Jacques Selosse Champagne given by Anselm Selosse and his son Guillaume. Would Michele and I like to join them? I have never participated in a Zoom wine tasting where as part of the package they send you the wines to taste so this was an offer I could not refuse.
The domain Jacques Selosse is located in the village of Avize, situated in the Cöte de Blancs. It is a family run operation with 8.3 hectares of vineyards in the crus of Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Ay, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and Ambonnay. There are 7.3 hectares of Chardonnay and one hectare of Pinot Noir. The soil is classic chalky marls. Harvest is by hand.
The first vintage was 1964 and Anselme Selosse took over the running of the winery from his parents in 1974. Anselme retired in 2018 turning the domain over to his son Guillaume. They were both on the Zoom podcast and it seemed that Anselme did most of the speaking.
Our host, Jason explained that some of the Zoom participants had paid only for the telecast but did not buy the wine to taste. We all agreed (we were seven) that the organizers were taking too long to get to the wine tasting so we began before them and then went back again and tasted the wines with them. We then tasted the wine with food.
Here are some of the remarks that Anselme and Guillaume made about their wine.
Anselme said it is important to visit other wine regions to see what they are doing. To make profound Champagne you must start with a great wine for your base. The relationship between healthy soil (terroir) and the wines that spring from it is critical. The position on the slope of the hill and the exposure is very important.
They use a selection of yeasts strains culled from their own vineyards for fermentation and minimize the use of SO2. The wine is fermented and raised in wood barrels, less than 20% new, and the wine remains on the fine lees for extended periods.
Malolactic fermentations are free to occur, or not, as each individual lot evolves.
There is a low dosage because they believe their wines with their purity of flavor, need no make up. They taste the wine to see if they should add dosage and how much.
They feel the use of barriques gives them great control over the role oxygen plays in the base wines.
Jason decided on the order in which to taste the wines. The comments that follow are by Jason. I have a tremendous respect for his palate and he knows these wines better than I do. I will add my own comments also at the end of this blog. Next to the initials are the point rating of each person. I am CS.
Selosse Versions Originale (V0) sourced from high on the Avize slope, it is 3 consecutive vintages that are aged for 42 months and bottled with little or no-dosage. It is typically released an average of 6 years after the most recent harvest in the blend. Dosage 1.5 g/l
10/17/20 — 95 points. (SLD, 96, DD 96, JM 96, CS 90, EJD 94, MS 95) Now-2030+. Served this first for the Selosse Fête du Champagne Zoom Tasting with Anselme and Guillaume Selosse. Light-medium golden color. The nose is dried pit fruits, white flowers, white peach, minerals, a subtle latex note (Debo), marzipan, honey, crushed almonds, quince and dried apricots. A gorgeous nose. On the palate this is dry with zippy acidity and a lovely, long and complex finish. This wine is perfectly balanced. Gorgeous juice. $280
Selosse Initial Blanc de Blancs–Anselme called this his classic Avize Brut. Long aging in bottle before and after disgorgement. It is an assemblage of three successive vintages from lower slope sites. It is released an average of five years after the most recent harvest in the blend. The dosage is 5g/l.
10/17/20 — 93 points. (DJD 95, SLD 94, JM 94, EJD 92, CS 89, MS 90) Now-2032. Served this second for the Selosse Fête du Champagne Zoom Tasting with Anselme and Guillaume Selosse. Medium yellow-golden color. Lovely, rich nose of melons, marzipan, dried pit fruits and white flowers on the nose. More flamboyant than the V.O. that preceded it. On the palate this is a touch creamier, more oxidative and yet less complex than the V.O. was on this day. $260
Selosse Millesime 2009. The Methode Selosse was originally a blanc de blancs made from two plots in Avize and it used to express the character of a single year. Beginning with the 2000 vintage, it is assembled from all the estate’s plots, both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Dosage 0-4g/l
10/17/20 — 92 points. (SLD 92, EJD 96, JM 90, DJD 93, CS 93, MS 94) Now-2028. Served this third for the Selosse Fête du Champagne Zoom Tasting with Anselme and Guillaume Selosse. Deep golden color. The nose here is tremendously rich with deep notes of fading wildflowers, melon, dried pit fruits, tropical fruits (papaya) and orange marmalade. On the palate this is full bodied, but actually a tad ponderous, and, dare I say, “flabby?” I felt it was quite low in acidity — at least initially, although revisiting about 30 minutes later, perhaps I am being unfairly harsh as this seemed to have tightened up and gained complexity and “zip” with some air. $430
Selosse Substance Avize is the essence in a single vintage from two parcels without regard to vintage variation. Always made from the same Chardonnay vineyards in Avize. A south facing slope and an east hill base. Made from a solera started in 1987. Each year 22% is taken from the solera. Dosage 0-4g/l
10/17/20 — 98+ points. (SLD 99, DJD 98, JM 99, EJD 99, MS 99.9, CS 98) Now-2035. Served this last (fourth) for the Selosse Fête du Champagne Zoom Tasting with Anselme and Guillaume Selosse. Medium plus golden color. This is at a whole other level than everything that came before. This at once both the most mineral laden and grippy AND the most oxidative of the four wines. This has the least CO2 as well. Appricots, pears, loads of wet stone minerality, white flowers, pumpkin pie spice, mulled cider. This is just a stunningly gorgeous, complex wine that is a real privilege to drink. $566
My thoughts: These were the most unusual Champagnes I have ever tasted. You can pick up the oxidation in the wines. It was not a problem because it added an extra layer of character to the wines.
The Substance was in a class by itself. I really do not know of any other Champagne to compare to it.
I gave all of the wines the lowest scores of the group and I have to say I liked them much better when I had them with food.
So what did we eat with these champagnes?
Michele made a dip with smoked salmon, cream cheese topped with salmon caviar which we ate with potato chips.
She also made anchovy twists, cream cheese pastry sticks filled with anchovies.