Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Grower Champagne Gourmet

My, how the time flies along, it hardly seems like that long since the last gourmet, and here we are again. Tonight we are looking at a few Grower Champagnes, that is smaller producers who make all their wines from their own stocks. By their very nature, as small producers, these wines are far more representative of what the region is capable of. Unlike Veuve Clicquot which produces somewhere in the region of 6 million bottles of yellow label each year, Jacques Selosse makes about 60,000 in total! We are starting off with the Jacquesson Cuvee 731, apparently we are the first to get the new cuvee. This is a great chardonnay dominated champagne, crisp, dry, and acidic enough to get the juices going. It is based around the 2002 vintage, with reserve wines to fill it up.
For the starter we are pouring Egly Ouriets brut. Pinot dominated from his grand cru vineyards in Ambonnay, Bouzy and Verzenay, this is much softer, red fruit flavours with a well developed yeasty character from a full three years and three months on the lees. Like many grower-producers, Francis Egly lists the date of disgorgement on the back label giving an indication of the "freshness" of the wine but also allowing the consumer to work out the base vintage. This was disgorged in 05 so is likely to be based on the 01 vintage (01 harvest, in bottle by late 01 early 02, three years on the lees = 2005).

For the intermediate we are pouring the Selosse Rose. Coming in a nice fancy frosted glass bottle with minimal labelling this is quite an enigma. Apparently the pinot for this is sourced from Egly-Ouriet so there is a bit of a cross-over. Light salmon pink in colour, I cant actually taste this one, so Im not sure what its like. Will try and get some feedback later and post a tasting note.

The main course brings out one of the big boys, Egly-Ouriets Blanc de Noir. 100% Pinot, again from his grand cru vineyards in Ambonnay and Bouzy this is ripe red fruit with a rich almost grainy character to it. I love blancs de noirs and this is one of the best that Ive had. Although hand on heart my favourite was a Meunier champagne from Moet, part of the Trilogie des Grands Crus - Les Champs de Romont that alas is no longer available.

With the cheese we are serving Jacques Selosse Initiale Brut NV. Big burgundian style champagne, this is very much like drinking a sparkling montrachet. Anselme did a stint of training in Burgundy and consequently his wines are made in quite a burgundian style. Oak barrel fermentation, weekly battonage, long time on the lees. This should be a great match with the Epoisses.

We also finish with Selosse, this time his Exquise Sec. Specially created for three friends of his, all chefs, each with three michelin stars, this is a rich robust champagne that has been sweetened with brown sugar that Anselme apparently imports from Manchester - a local connection. The wines has a bit of a bite to it, almost cognac-y with hints of dark muscovado sugar. With a pear tatin this will be great.

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