Updated: Nov 6, 2019
"It is not the vintage, or even the quality. It is a matter of recognizing an interesting wine" The quote comes from a tête à tête I had earlier today with candid, charismatic and utterly competent Chef de Cave Odilon de Varine of Champagne Gosset. I couldn't agree more. Or as my hero Dr. Seuss would put it- it is truer than true.
The questions at a trade-champagne tasting are the ususal suspects. What base wine is it? What is the dosage? How much reserve wine is in the cuvée? Certainly legit inquirys. Mr.De Varine answered these rather standardized interrogations patiently but politely steared the conversation elsewhere. Towards a more abstract notion. The essence of the wine if you may. I was much intrigued. This rock star was not so concerned as to the never ending debate on great or weak vintages.
It is a matter of recognizing an interesting wine. There you have it.
Dull products and productions are sadly heard, observed and tasted all around. They may be technically accomplished, balanced, cooked to a tee or even hit the highest pitch. Seemingly perfect. Are they interesting however? In many cases, they leave us quite indifferent. Originality and individualism however. Yes please. A champagne not perfect, but with expression, charm, personality and integrity. That's art baby.
The champagnes I tried today exposed that very notion. They displayed their own identities and traits with precision and harmony. They were inspiring and gratifying. So I think I heard Mr.De Varine right. Its not the vintage, amount of reservewine or even the dosage. It is a matter of recognizing an interesting wine.
Champagne Gosset makes roughly 1 million bottles per year of their splendid champagnes. As a reference Moet makes 40 million and Bollinger 2 million per year.
Gosset has been around since 1584. It is considered one of the "Grand Marques" of champagne and they carry this title with grace. They are not only the oldest wine producer in the beautiful champagne region but also one of very few, if not the only one of this size, that is still family owned and operated.
Formerly of Ay, the company moved in 2009 and is presently located in Epernay- the uncrowned "champagne capital" of the area. Here the precious bottles are resting peacefully under ground in 1700 meters worth of cool and humid "crayeres". These are in fact old chalky limestone quarries left behind by the Romans. Wow-factor. Surely these cellars have provided building material for many of the old, amazing constructions still standing to this day.
Some of the particularities in the production of Gosset's well crafted and original champagnes is no malolactic fermentation, all stainless steel tanks and focus on long lees-ageing.
The style is elegantly acidic with salty minerality and finely tuned aromas. Yet at the same time it has a rich creaminess about it and a sensational concentration.
Furthermore the stock at this ambitious producer has increased in recent years, but not the sales. This adds up to longer time in the cellar for the Gosset champagnes. In average, the time of ageing is 2,5 years. at Gosset, it is a whoppin' 6 years.
I asked the crafty Mr.De Varine if he could recall a specific, memorable gourmet moment with a pairing of a Gosset champagne and food. He smiled and said " The best combination with Gosset's champagnes is to share them with other people. The best bottle is the empty one."
Under the guidance of Odilon de Varine 10 different cuvées from Champagne Gosset were presented and tasted today.
The unique and extra aged Gosset Blanc de Noir(15000 btls.):
Big, bold and beautiful. Acidity to die for, body, creamy bubbles, aromas of freshly grind coffee, stone fruits like nectarine and apricot, salty licorice, grapefruit. Lingers still.
The even more rare Gosset Grand Blanc de Meunier(5000 fl.).
Charmed, I'm sure. Ripe and dripping with tropical fruit, hazelnut, lemon curd, baked winter apples, fudge and a hint of coconut. Loved this one a bit extra.
2007 Gosset Celebris Extra Brut
Trocadero, mozart pralines, spearmint, sea buckthorn, vanilla, clementine, chalky minerals, yellow preserved plums. Amazing.
2007 Gosset Celebris Rosé Extra Brut.
The NV Rosé from Gosset has always been a favorite. The -07 is no exception. Juicy, acidic and flinty with red currants, watermelon sorbet, lingonberries, pink grapefruit and a heavenly, infinite aftertaste.
And the crown jewel: 1983 Gosset Grand Millésime Brut.
A myriad of aromas. Mocha, roasted nuts, tarte tatin, sweet nectarine jam, apple sauce, pastry, forrest mushroom, muscovado sugar, candied orange peel...and it goes on...and on. What a wine! So honored for the opportunity.
What a flight, what a conviction, quality and passion. Many many heartfelt thanks to Champagne Gosset!