The influence that the small Maison Jacques Selosse has exerted on Champagne producers is an incontrovertible fact that testifies to the importance of the 40 years of study and research by the charismatic Anselme Selosse. It all began around 1974 when the young Anselme, once finished his studies in oenology in Burgundy, entered in the Maison founded by his father Jacques 15 years earlier.
They are years characterized by an almost absolute monopoly by a few large producers, who imposed a fairly standardized taste to their champagne, made from grapes often purchased according to the appellation of origin, without a real zonation within the appellation itself. Anselme, on the other hand, having studied the precision with which in Burgundy the quality of each Cru is defined and, sometimes, of the individual rows of the same vineyard, sees in this process the answer to the need to create a new and characteristic style for his wines.
His ideas became reality in 1980 when, less than 30 years old, he took over from his father the Maison and began to experiment with a style that in the vineyard is based on the exaltation of each one of the 54 parcels of the winery, distributed over 8.3 hectares of land in the most prestigious areas, almost all Grand Cru, north of the Côte de Blancs and south of the Montagne de Reims. This meticulous zoning is accompanied by the harvest of the grapes at full ripeness, produced, in very low quantities, by plants bred with natural viticulture principles which become progressively more and more radical, and that lead him to argue that the greatest disturbances to nature are the work of man and that, consequently, one must strive to interfere with nature as little as possible.
Even in the winery the conviction is that the vinification must be as spontaneous as possible, with the use of yeast strains obtained from its own vineyards and the drastic reduction of the use of SO2 and liqueur d’expedition, obtained only from pure grape fructose. A separate mention deserves the technique of aging the base wines, on the fine lees, in barriques (new to 20%), a technique clearly inspired by Burgundy that allows Anselme to manage their oxygenation to obtain a slight oxidation.
Since 2018, Anselme has passed the the company torch to his son Guillaume, also an oenologist, who, in addition to working closely with his father, has been producing his own “Guillaume S.” Champagne since 2012, with results that suggest that the paternal inheritance is definitely in good hands.
Among the most interesting Selosse labels is undoubtedly Extra Brut Le Bout Du Clos, one of the champagnes from specific lieux dits that in this case consist of a single parcel entirely planted with Pinot Noir in the municipality of Ambonnay. Here the grapes are taken care of by adopting, as already mentioned, a biodynamic philosophy applied with surgical precision and, only when they are fully ripe, can be harvested manually with a careful selection of the most healthy bunches to be sent to the cellar. Once the base wines are kept, it’s time to assemble them with wines from other vintages, according to the perpetual system of Solera, and to start the period of refermentation in bottle that lasts about six years. After disgorgement, the approximately 2000 bottles produced annually are refilled with a liqueur d’expedition with an almost non-existent dosage (between 0 and 2 grams/liter) and, therefore, rest a few more months, with the traditional mushroom cap, before being placed on the market.
The sample disgorged in February 2020 shows a truly intense golden color, combined with a perlage as fine as persistent, and an olfactory fan that opens on notes of dried apricot, raisins, wild strawberry, pomegranate, followed by lime peel, chestnut honey, croissant and vanilla with the unmistakable closure in iodine/mineral and oxidative tones of Sherry Fino (a real trademark of this winery). The palate succeeds in the difficult task of combining glyceric softness and oxidized freshness, also thanks to a backbone given by the perlage that “guides” the oral cavity now towards the first, now towards the second; all enriched by the return of the fruit, of spices and Sherry Fino which lead the sip to a bright juicy closure.
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