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19/07/2013

When More is More (Part 1)

by Guy Ruston (HK Sales Executive)

Jacques Selosse with Bordeaux Index“You should come over, we’ll open some Selosse and a few Burgs…”

There are some invites you just say ‘yes’ to. No thinking, no checking your diary, just strap yourself in and off you go….

Friday night bore witness to a monumental 15 (yes, 15) course dinner show-casing Selosse’s six lieux-dits amongst a bevy of other vinous delights so generously provided by my host. An eye-catching list of wines to say the least, this was a rare opportunity outside of the winery itself to taste such an array of Selosse. 

Jacques Selosse has been very much at the forefront of the grower-Champagne renaissance in recent years, indeed influencing many of the next generation of new wave growers in the process. These are champagnes, however, as Antonio Galloni opines, “that taste like no other.”

During the last 20 years, the charismatic proprietor Anselme Selosse has built a reputation as one of the most exciting and innovative winemakers on the planet. Employing a range of winemaking techniques, from Burgundy to Jerez, he has given champagne a new dimension with his vinous-style creations. Whilst his wines are not to everyone’s tastes, he has cultivated a fanatical following including two of the world’s top authorities on champagne - Antonio Galloni and Richard Juhlin.

“I’ve mentioned the name of Anselme Selosse on several occasions…partly because he’s my favourite grower and partly because he’s the most original winemaker in all of Champagne…Despite this fame, his wines cost nothing compared to Petrus, Romanee-Conti or Krug Clos du Mesnil.” -Richard Juhlin

I’ve witnessed a few wine trends come and go during the last three years living in Asia; however, amongst those names that have survived fickle tastes or wider market patterns are these dazzling and ground breaking champagnes from Selosse.

To say I was excited ahead of Friday’s dinner would be an understatement.

Right, on to the wines…there are a lot to get through.

Initial
A great choice to serve first as this is such a good introduction into the ‘house style’ of Selosse - a little more restrained than some of his other offerings but full of the signature energy and vibrancy. This bottle possesses beautiful freshness and lazer-like precision, yet there are no hard edges here. The acidity and fruit are in perfect harmony; apricots and lavender with hints of gun flint and crushed rocks neatly weave in and out of the delicate bubbles. If you’ve never tried Selosse, treat yourself to a bottle of this. 94 points GR

Rose
Selosse’s Rose has quickly become my favourite champagne of this genre during the past year and this bottle, disgorged in 2011, further reinforced my appreciation. Lovely dusty, pale salmon in colour. Again like the Initial this has such great energy. The vinous qualities of Selosse’s rose have been well documented and this is bursting with gorgeous pinot fruit; but it is the elegance of the palate that is most charming. Such a joy to taste, one can’t help but smile. 95 points GR

Sous le Mont (Mareuil sur Ay)
One of the more controversial wines in the line up as it delicately walks the tight-rope between oxidative and oxidized. Pale amber in colour with honeyed-like aromas of spiced apple. A little too flabby for my tastes but its looseness is compellingly playful; it keeps you guessing from start to finish as toasty flavours of apricot and apple dance on your palate. 91 points GR

Chemin de Chalons (Cramant)
Such a contrast to the Sous le Mont, this is tauter, leaner and more finely-tuned. There is a sense of exoticism to the nose, yet its very depth and poise put this a serious notch up. Great persistence on the palate as swathes of fruit attack in waves. Really stunning stuff. 94 points GR

Les Chantereines (Avize)
Wow, so much energy here. Think the Initial but ‘turned up to 11.’ Zippy, zingy citrus rushes up out of the glass, such purity. There is real tension and vibrancy on the palate too... Breath-takingly beautiful. 95 points GR

Les Carelles (Mesnil)
A-MAZ-ING. Trademark Mesnil aromas of tropical fruits and baked apples fill the glass. Massive on the palate, with layers and layers of rich, creamy, buttery fruit - yet the mousse is so delicately finessed. This is an incredibly well sculpted champagne. Would be fascinating to try side-by-side with Krug Clos du Mesnil or Salon; it is in that league!. The proverbial ‘Blonde Bombshell’ and then some. If you’re a fan of Marilyn, then buy all you can!! 97 points GR

La Cote Faron (Ay)
Initially a little tight and muted, this took a bit of coaxing to open up but when it did,“oh boy”. Beautifully rich on the nose with lovely layers of spicy, baked fruits. The palate too is gorgeously plump and curvey but with a really zippy edge of minerality. Great drama. Desperately searching for a Bruno Borie-ism here; Beyonce? Tina Tuner? Mariah Carey? Definitely a diva with curves. 94 points GR

Bout du Clos (Ambonnay)
“Woah” – at least I think that would be the appropriate translation from Mandarin. This Champagne has just stopped everyone in their tracks. The power, just from the nose is intoxicating. A heady mix of spicy red currants, rose petal and a hint of wet clay roll out of the glass. The palate is huge. Broad shouldered, alpha-male with just enough minerality to keep it from too much pea-cocking too soon. This will undoubtedly mellow and mature into a compelling beast over the next 3-5 years. Stunning purity of fruit. The finish just goes on and on. 97+ points GR

A huge thank you once again to my host for so generously hosting this special dinner.

"How do you top that?!", as GC would say... Stay tuned for Part 2.