About this WINE
Gosset is the oldest wine-producer in Champagne, with a history stretching back to 1584 – when red, rather than sparkling wines were the region’s calling card.
Situated in the tiny Grand Cru village of Aÿ, five kilometres from Epernay, quality-focused Gosset has some rather famous neighbours, including Bollinger; its production, however, is much below that of the larger Houses, at around 1.3 million bottles (Moët & Chandon, for comparison, makes close to 30 million).
Gosset crafts truly artisan and gastronomic Champagnes, wines which are often seen in Michelin-star restaurants across the world. Newly appointed Chef de Caves Odilon de Varine (who took over in 2016) carries on the hallmark style of the House: extended aging “sur lees” in the cellars gives the wines extra richness and complexity in the finished glass, while the wines often don’tt undergo malolactic fermentation, to preserve the wines’ acidity and freshness. The results tend to be very creamy, dry and full, with rich, biscuit notes, framed by a trademark mineral freshness.
The House produces a range of different wines, including a range of non-vintage bottlings: the House’s flagship multi-vintage blend Grande Réserve, its Blanc de Blancs and Rosé. As for vintage wines, its Grand Millésime is joined by the “prestige” Celebris cuvées, which are only produced in the very best years.
Today the House is owned by the Renaud-Cointreau group, a family firm that also owns Cognac Frapin.
Brut denotes a dry style of Champagne (less than 15 grams per litre). Most Champagne is non-vintage, produced from a blend from different years. The non-vintage blend is always based predominately on wines made from the current harvest, enriched with aged wines (their proportion and age varies by brand) from earlier harvests, which impart an additional level of complexity to the end wine. Champagnes from a single vintage are labelled with the year reference and with the description Millésimé.
Non-vintage Champagnes can improve with short-term ageing (typically two to three years), while vintages can develop over much longer periods (five to 30 years). The most exquisite and often top-priced expression of a house’s style is referred to as Prestige Cuvée. Famous examples include Louis Roederer's Cristal, Moët & Chandon's Dom Pérignon, and Pol Roger's Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill.
Which grapes are included in the blend, and their proportion, is one of the key factors determining the style of most Champagnes. Three grapes are used - Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.
26% of vineyards in Champagne are planted with Chardonnay and it performs best on the Côtes des Blancs and on the chalk slopes south of Epernay. It is relatively simple to grow, although it buds early and thus is susceptible to spring frosts. It produces lighter, fresher wines than those from Burgundy and gives finesse, fruit and elegance to the final blend. It is the sole grape in Blancs de Blancs, which are some of the richest long-lived Champagnes produced.
Pinot Noir accounts for nearly 40% of the plantings in Champagne and lies at the heart of most blends - it gives Champagne its body, structure, strength and grip. It is planted across Champagne and particularly so in the southern Aube district.
The final component is Pinot Meunier and this constitutes nearly 35% of the plantings. Its durability and resistance to spring frosts make the Marne Valley, a notorious frost pocket, its natural home. It ripens well in poor years and produces a soft, fruity style of wine that is ideal for blending with the more assertive flavours of Pinot Noir. Producers allege that Pinot Meunier lacks ageing potential, but this does not deter Krug from including around 15% of it in their final blends.
Home and Garden - December 2014
Tom Cannavan - Wine-pages - Jan 2014