Champagne Jacques Selosse, the rebel of Avize, has always fascinated me. I am often skeptical when it comes to more expensive brands, however, Selosse to me is worth every penny you spend on it. Selosse is not just a brand, it is a phenomenon. This is why I am super excited to be visiting the estate restaurant, les Avizes, in June. So to prep-up, I decided to embark on a journey to learn more on how Anselme (the son a Jacques) and his wife Corinne Selosse have achieved such a world renowned reputation. The estate was founded by who else than Jacques Selosse and his family in the 1950s. The first vintage was bottled in 1960. Selosse is a grower champagne, meaning, every step, from grape to bottle, is managed/owned by the winemaker. Many champagne producers today buy grapes in bulk as their own vineyards do not produce enough. This of courses poses a quality risk. The entire Selosse production is grown using biodynamic practices. Selosse owns 37 acres of plots in the Grand Cru villages of Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil, Ay, Mareuil-sur- Ay and Ambonnay. They are predominantly Chardonnay with the small remainder being Pinot Noir. The annual production is around 55,000 bottles of each vintage, depending on weather conditions.
Anselme Selosse is often described as eccentric, obsessed, charismatic, even messianic. His style courts both strong support and harsh critique. The style of winemaking is Burgundian with the first fermentation taking place in French oak instead of stainless steel. The grapes are harvested as late as possible to utilize the natural sweetness of ripe fruit and the dosage is kept low. To me he is one of the most fascinating vignerons at work in Champagne today.
Selosse range of wines includes:
Initial – a blend of three vintages of Chardonnay, aged for at least 2 years before disgorged. A small dosage is added to make the wine a Brut.
Version Originale – also made with three vintages of Chardonnay, but aged longer than the Initial, for 42 months. A low dosage is added (Extra Brut)
Millésime – a single vintage Blanc de Blancs from the grapes of two vineyards in Avize, Le Mont de Cramant and Les Chantereines
Substance – a Blanc de Blancs from a single vineyard in Avize. The Champagne is made in a solera system with the base grapes for this wine coming from the 1987 vintage, the blend is topped up with more recent vintages each year.
Contraste is a Blanc de Noirs, made from Pinot Noir grapes from a single vineyard in Aÿ. Contraste is also made in a solera style with the base grapes from the 1994 vintage.
Exquise is a Demi-Sec Blanc de Blancs , with around 24g/l of dosage.
Quoting the New York Times, great wines are distinctive. Ideally they reflect their terroir and the conditions of their vintages. However big-brand champagne has long before “divorced” what is in the bottle from what comes from the earth, focusing on a achieving consistent blend. Too often, Champagne is a commodity, not a wine with a heart. Anselme Selosse is by his example and his Champagnes a forerunner in restoring the ideas of vineyard, terroir and wine. Selosse is not a champagne that tastes the same every year. Every vintage is unique. The focus of the production is to get the best out of the years harvest instead of a consistent taste
We have a few bottles in the cellar bought from various locations. None of these bottles can at the moment be found in the Swedish monopoly. So have a taste of Selosse if you have a chance. Even if it is a bit heavy on the wallet, it is an experience a champagne-lover should not miss.
Wishing you a great weekend,