Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Champagne Gosset: Wine First, Bubbles Second
--Jean-Pierre Mareigner, Cellar Master at Gosset
Although Champagne is very popular, there are still a number of misconceptions that exist about this sparkling wine. For example, I've said repeatedly that more people need to drink Champagne with food, to pair it with their dinner rather than just enjoy it as a celebratory aperitif. At a recent Champagne lunch at L'Espalier, a couple other misconceptions about Champagne were discussed. Representatives of Champagne Gosset led us through a tasting of a number of their sparkling wines, trying to illustrate and clarify a couple important points, concerning the reputation of non-vintage champagne as well as disgorgement dates.
Champagne Gosset, which was launched in the U.S. by Wilson Daniels and is distributed in Massachusetts by Ruby Wines, presented "A Sparkling Retrospective," through Bertrand Verduzier, Export Director, and Hermine De Clermont Tonnerre, Assistant Wine Maker. Both Bertrand and Hermine were personable and knowledgeable, and it was fascinating to taste their Champagnes, especially the comparison tastings intended to illustrate the wonders of non-vintage Champagnes. The top export market for Gosset is the U.S., with their three main markets being Boston, New York City and San Francisco.
The history of Champagne Gosset extends back over 400 years, to 1584 in Aÿ, a commune in the Marne region in Champagne. Pierre Gosset founded the winery, with the original purpose of producing still red wines as sparkling wine didn't come to the Champagne region until the 17th century. As such, Gosset lays claim to being the oldest wine house in Champagne. In 1993, the winery was purchased by the Renaud-Cointreau family.
Jean-Pierre Mareigner has been the cellar master at Gosset for about 33 years, with a philosophy of: "At Gosset, we don't make bubbles, we make wines from Champagne with a real identity." This is a very personal approach to wine making and their current annual production is about one million bottles. They have the ability with their own vineyards and the growers they contract to concentrate on certain terroirs, to present Champagnes that are fresh and complex.
Second, these older Bruts all have older disgorgement dates and Gosset generally doesn't want to place those dates on the wine label though they also won't hide the dates from anyone who really wants to know. The problem they see is that many consumers often mistakenly believe that a newer disgorgement is better, a "fresher is better" mentality. The importers of Gosset possess the disgorgement date, and they can disseminate to those who wish to know, but Gosset doesn't see sufficient value in placing it directly on the bottle label.
The first Grande Réserve Brut was a blend of the 1999, 2000 and 2002 harvests, which was disgorged in 2007 with a dosage of 10g/L. The second was a blend of the 1982, 1983 and 1985 harvests, which was disgorged in 1990 with a dosage of 12g/L. And the third was a blend of the 1979, 1980 and 1982 harvests, which was disgorged in 1987 with a dosage of 11g/L. We could see the transformation of the NV Champagne over time, how this NV sparkling wine had as much complexity and age-worthiness as a vintage Champagne. Each of the three wines had its own unique flavor profile, yet there were also commonalities too, including a certain elegance and balance. And it was clear that older disgorgement dates don't negatively effect the wine.
As an aside, I asked both Bertrand and Hermine about which of their Champagnes would best pair with a Margherita Pizza pairing and they both agreed that the Grande Réserve Brut was the best choice, with Hermine stating there was a bit of the taste of the crust in the Champagne
What are your thoughts on Non-Vintage Champagne?