In the end of February last year I held a tasting in a wine tasting club (Munskänkarna in Stockholm) featuring Champagnes from Jacques Selosse, the most sought-after of all small producers in Champagne, and since many years the foremost source of inspiration for a large number of other small producers that more recently have raised their quality.
This tasting mostly included bottles released in the autumn 2013, but also three that were about three years older, for comparison. (Ouch, opening two bottles each of V.O. and Rosé with some years of extra age really did hurt in the cellar! So 2*10-bottle tastings of this kind is not something I plan to do again in the near future.) Almost all of Selosse’s range is non-vintage, but all bottles have the disgorgment date indicated on the label, so it is possible to see how old the bottle is. When they are just released, a few months have typically passed since disgorgement, or about half a year if we’re talking of the top of the range.
The ten wines were divided into two flights, where the first consisted of:
Selosse Initial Brut, disgorged 2 August 2013
100% Chardonnay from the villages Avize, Cramant, and Oger. Three consecutive vintages, in this release 2008-2007-2006 according to Anselme Selosse.
Nose with ripe apples, some yellow plums, noticeable minerality, notes of oxidation and oak barrels with some character of Fino Sherry, flowery (including hyacinth) and perfumed in a white Burgundy way. Palate with green and yellow apples, good concentration, noticeable minerality, high acidity, and a long and green-apply aftertaste. Not really any notes of oxidation on the palate. Young, 92+ p.
Compared to when I tasted the same disgorgement in early December 2013 (the Selosse tasting took place almost three months later), it now had a bit more muted fruit notes and showed more Fino Sherry.
A small comment: I earlier guessed that the vintages in this release were 2009-2008-2007, but apparently Initial rests one year longer in Selosse’s cellar than I (and some other folks) had guessed. However, this may have varied over the years, and Initial/Initiale (that makes up significantly more than half of the total Selosse production) can be found with disgorgement dates in different months of the same year.
Selosse Initial Brut, disgorged 20 October 2010
The three vintages are possibly 2005-2004-2003.
Nose with ripe yellow apples, some winter apples, some zest, nutty notes with toasted hazelnuts, toffee, some Fino Sherry, and mineral. Noticeably deeper fruit and more ripe notes than the Initial disgorged 2013. Palate with yellow and some green apples, deeper yellow fruit, noticeable minerality, spicy, high acidity, and a long and green-apply aftertaste with mineral. Actually a bit more mineral on the palate of the 2010-disgorged than in the 2013-disgorged, and a bit sharper impression. Still young and green-apply, 92(+) p.
Selosse Version Originale (V.O.) Extra Brut, disgorged 5 October 2013
100% Chardonnay from Avize, Cramant, and Oger. Three consecutive vintages, perhaps 2007-2006-2005?
Nose with yellow apples, citrus, great concentration of aromas with less exclusive focus on fruit, noticeable and chalky minerality, white flowers, perfume, hints of butter, some oxidation notes (less than Initial disgorged 2013) and a great elegance. Palate with powerful concentration, attack with green apples, very mineral-dominated mid-palate with stony character and a “good fizzy tablet feeling”, and a very long and green-apply aftertaste. Young, indeed the youngest impression of the flight, and with great potential, 93+ p.
Selosse Version Originale (V.O.) Extra Brut, disgorged 25 October 2010
Three consecutive vintages, perhaps 2004-2003-2002?
Nose with ripe yellow fruit, yellow apples and peach, powerful concentration of aromas, some developed notes with rather discrete oxidation notes, some nuts and chocolate, a hint of Fino Sherry, and mineral. Elegant but more “on the fruit” than the V.O. disgorged 2013. Palate with yellow and green apples, a hint of bitterness, noticeable minerality, high acidity, and a long aftertaste with green apple and mineral. Rather young, slightly more “stubborn-tasting” than the younger V.O. disgorged 2013, 93 p.
Selosse Rosé, disgorged 7 August 2013
Chardonnay from Avize and Pinot Noir (red wine) from Ambonnay. Two consecutive vintages. Perhaps 2009 and 2008 or 2008 and 2007?
Nose with reda and yellow apples with a character of an “apple with a fresh bite”, citrus, a hint of peach and wild strawberries, mineral with chalk dust, some oak barrels and oxidation, pronounced flowery notes and perfume. Palate with red apples, good concentration, noticeable minerality, high acidity, aftertaste with red apples and mineral. Young, the small spice note livens things up, developed in the glass, 93 p.
Selosse Rosé, disgorged 26 November 2010
Two consecutive vintages. Perhaps 2006 and 2005 or 2005 and 2004?
Nose with red apples, oranges, figs, some winter apples, red berries (cocktail berries), spice notes, bread with wafers, chocolate (yes, it combines to chocolate-covered wafers), and some oxidation notes. Not the same floweriness and perfume as the Rosé disgorged 2013, but with great complexity in the nose. Palate with red apples, spice notes, good concentration, noticeable minerality, hints of some nuts, and an aftertaste with mineral and red apple. Rather ready in its development, 94 p.
The conclusion of the first flight, three pairs of wines disgorged 2013 and 2010 respectively, was that the 2010s showed more depth of fruit, more pronounced perfume notes and came across as a bit more “muted” or “low-frequency”. The 2013 disgorgments showed more flowery notes and more minerality.
The bottles that were the most difficult to find (and had been collected the previous couple of months with some considerable effort and some luck) were in a second flight:
2003 Selosse Millésime, disgorged 11 March 2013
Nose with ripe yellow fruit, primarily peach but also yellow plums and some yellow apples, powerful concentration of aromas, some spices, some oxidative notes with toasted nuts (almonds and hazelnuts), somewhat developed notes, a hint of vanilla, oak barrel notes with white flowers and a hint of perfume. Palate with powerful concentration, peach, citrus, yellow apples, very ripe and sweet fruit in the attack, powerful minerality, rather high acidity, and a fairly creamy mouthfeel. Long and fruity aftertaste with mineral, peach and citrus. Good balance despite the ripe and hot impression, but it is ready to drink, 95 p.
Vintage Selosse usually requires more cellaring than the rest of the range, but the 2003 differs by being ready straight away. Considering its power and balance, it can surely be kept for a long time, but I don’t think it has as much to gain from cellaring as the top vintages that are classical in style. Some were surprised that Selosse released a 2003, but on the other hand, Selosse’s wine are powerful in style.
Selosse Lieux-Dits Les Carelles, disgorged 12 April 2013
Chardonnay from a vineyard in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Produced in a solera, this release has 2006 as the youngest vintage.
Nose with some yellow fruit, smoke, some oranges and red apples, powerful minerality, some oxidation notes with Sherry character, nuts, flowery notes with white flowers, elegant. This wine showed a “medium amount” of Sherry and a lot of mineral compared to the others. Palate with powerful concentration of aromas, yellow and green apples, a lot of citrus, a powerful and chalky mineral note that just grows!, high acidity, a hint of mineral bitterness, and a long aftertaste. Greatest length of all of them. Drinkable now, could develop, 95(+) p.
Not really 100% Chardonnay-typical aromas, since I also find oranges and red apples, but I suppose the solera treatment affects my impression.
Selosse Lieux-Dits Sous le Mont, disgorged 11/12 February 2013
Pinot Noir from a vineyard in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. Produced in a solera, this release has 2006 as the youngest vintage.
Nose with really ripe peach and nectarine, some red berries, pronounced minerality with chalk and oxidation notes with some discrete Sherry hints, flowery notes, and spice. Compared to Les Carelles, the Sous le Mont shows more and sweeter fruit, but less nuts and mineral. Palate with powerful concentration, peach and nectarine, red apple, spice, noticeable minerality, and a long minerally aftertaste with some spice. Could probably develop, but although it’s a marvelous wine, it doesn’t quite reach the elegance of Les Carelles, 94 p.
The first release of Sous le Mont was in the autumn of 2012, so this vineyard wasn’t represented when we tasted the three then available Selosse Lieux-Dits against each other in the spring of 2012.
Selosse Substance, disgorged 18 September 2013
Chardonnay from Avize. Solera started with the 1986 vintage.
Palate with ripe yellow apples, some green apples, winter apples, pronounced Sherry notes (Fino), powerful minerality with chalk, flowery notes, spice, oak barrels and some vanilla. More Sherry and oxidation notes than any of the others, but not that much more than in Les Carelles, and the least fruit-dominated of the flight. The minerality is pronounced and the nose is a bit “sharper”. Palate with excellent concentration, green apples, noticeable minerality, Sherry notes, some spices, high acidity, and great length. Rather ready to drink, but could develop, 94(+) p.
Well, what is there to say? Everything from Selosse impresses greatly, but the second flight meant a higher gear both in terms of concentration and complexity. At the same time, the solera creations (Substance and the Lieux-Dits) are very peculiar for Selosse with a style of their own, and are even further removed from the Champagne mainstream than the more “easily understandable” Initial and V.O.