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 5/24/2013 (NoMad Hotel Penthouse, New York, NY.)
 

 

I splurged and decided to go to the RWC Selosse tasting at the NoMad hotel. The idea behind the tasting was that RWC didn't know what to do with their allocation of the 6 extremely rare Lieux-Dits. They bring in the entire official US allocation, about 24 bottles of each. So they created a tasting around them. I had my first Selosse wine at the Acker BYO dinner in December 2012 and loved it. I'm just getting into Champagne, and so I decided this would be worth it. RWC was able to get Champagne hero Peter Liem to come and lead the seminar - he gave a great deal of detail about Selosse in general and each wine in particular.

 

Initial

The first flight was made up of Selosse's entry level wine Initial (previously called Tradition). Initial is made up of wine from 3 successive vintages (going back 7 years from disgorgement), and it always uses fruit from the same terroir: a mix from the base of the slopes from Avize, Ogier, and Le Mesnil. The flight consisted of 3 different disgorgements: 2012, 2003, and 2001.

  • N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Brut Initiale - France, Champagne
    Disgorged 2012. Light gold. Nose of sweet pear, vanilla, creamy chalk, and lemon. A touch of soap and rosemary come out with time. Shimmering and beautiful on the hose, smelling slightly sweet with some cider-like tones. Dusty chalk aspects. Lots of apple and pear, lots of fruit, sweet, cider. Light on its feet and lively with good acid. The finish seems a little short. Nose - 5.5/6, Palate - 5/6, Finish - 4.5/6, Je Ne Sais Quoi - 1.5/2 = 16.5/20. (93 pts.)
  • N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Brut Initiale - France, Champagne
    Disgorged 2003. Light-medium gold. Stunning nose of malt and toffee, cider, vanilla, deep and pure, rich? Some mature notes and the chalk comes out later. Palate: lots of orange peels and sweet lemon, toffee, cider and pear. This was smashing, right out of the gate, but when I got back to it, it had really faded or muted itself. When I came back, it seemed quite tired, and the rest of the group seemed to agree with this. My initial (no pun intended) score was Nose - 5-5.5/6, Palate - 6/6, Finish - 5/6, Je Ne Sais Quoi - 1-1.5/2 = 17-18/20. But coming back to it, it was more like a 15-16/20.
  • N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Tradition - France, Champagne
    Disgorged 2001. Light-medium gold. Quite mature on the nose, toffee, floral, chalk-stones, beautiful and creamy. Pear and cider. Orange and chocolate? Great attack - malt, creamy, some chalk, pear. Full and rich, yet lively. Gripping and intense. The malt, toffee carry through the long finish. This seems much more vibrant than the 03 disgorgement from the same flight. Spectacular. Nose - 5.5-6/6, Palate - 6/6, Finish - 5.5/6, Je Ne Sais Quoi - 1.5-2/2 = 18.5-19.5/20. (98 pts.)

The Lieux-Dits: Chardonnay

Now come the 3 Lieux-Dits made from Chardonnay, the Blanc de Blancs. Selosse is making all his Lieux-Dits using the Solera method, based on his success with the Blanc de Noirs, "La Cote Faron" which has a soldera going back to 1994. These soldera are much younger, starting with 03 at the earliest. Peter Liem told us that "Les Chantereines" has been farmed by Selosse for decades, while the others were acquired more recently and thus don't show the Selosse touch from the viticulture as much. He also mentioned that "Les Chantereines" is a key vineyard for Selosse - parcels of it go into Substance and the vintage champagne. Also of note, Selosse says that back in the day, "Le Chemin de Chalons" was a 'fetish wine' for M. Lanson. I can see why :)

  • N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut Chemin de Châlons - France, Champagne, Cramant, Champagne
    Disgorged 2012 (so the solera has 03 - 05 in it). Very Blanc Blancs with a nose of chalk, lemon peel and candied ginger. Bright and sharp, yet creamy and rich. Musky and some melon (?) comes out with time - gets more creamy on the nose as it evolves. Very spicy on the palate with lots of the candied ginger and lemon. Very bright. Pear and chalk. Creamy stones. Really sharp - gets even better with time and air. Intoxicating. Nose - 5.5/6, Palate - 6/6, Finish - 5.5/6, Je Ne Sais Quoi - 1.5/2 = 18.5/20. (97 pts.)
  • N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut Les Chantereines - France, Champagne, Avize, Champagne
    Very citrusy - lemon and orange. Mr. Clean (?) Chalky, lean, racy and focused. Light, chalky and stony. Quite lean with lots of lemon. Not as gripping as the Chemin de Chalons. Expanded with time. I got one really spectacular sip of this that was fully 3-d and wide, but I couldn't duplicate that, since the pours were pretty small. The scores for the sip are in parentheses. Peter Liem said that this has been farmed by Selosse for a long time, and so it shows a great deal of his viticulture in the bottle. Nose - 5.5-6/6, Palate - 5(6)/6, Finish - 5(5.5)/6, Je Ne Sais Quoi - 1(1.5)/2 = 17(18.5)/20. (94 pts.)
  • N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Blancs Les Carelles - France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne
    Doughy. Chalk. Muted on the nose. Not showing great. Creamy, and showing some uni (?). Pear. Bold chalk beneath the surface. A little blocky on the palate - not sure if it wants to be lean or burly. Bitter. Nose - 5-5.5/6, Palate - 5/6, Finish - 5/6, Je Ne Sais Quoi - 1/2 = 16-16.5/20. (92 pts.)

The Lieux-Dits: Pinot Noir

On to the Blanc de Noirs. Liem said that "La Cote Faron' had been in the family for a while, but Selosse wasn't a master of Pinot Noir at the time, and so he wasn't sure what to do with it. It got sold mostly to Italy. Finally, he started a soldera in 1994, and over time interest began to pick up. Liem also noted that 'Sous le Mont" is on the same hill as Philipponnat's "Clos des Goisses", just around to the side, and that it has high concentrations of Magnesium, that give the wine a bitterness.

  • N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Noirs La Côte Faron - France, Champagne, Aÿ, Champagne
    The oldest soldera for Selosse's Lieux-Dits, including all vintages back from 05 back to 94. Medium gold. Very pinot nose full of richness, red berries, chalk, smoky, deep with some spice. Warm yet austere. Classic. Lovely bright berries and stems on the palate. Great chalk-steely-minerals. Really serious stuff. Berries carry all the way through with the steely aspect for a great finish. Nearly perfect Blanc de Noirs. Spectacular. Nose - 6/6, Palate - 6/6, Finish - 5.5/6, Je Ne Sais Quoi - 2/2 = 19.5/20. (99 pts.)
  • N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Lieux Dits Le Bout du Clos - France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne
    From a solera started with the 04 vintage, so it contains 04 and 05. Also, this contains 15% Chardonnay. Lots of chalk and minerals, spice and cinnamon. Somewhat simple, although delicious smelling, on the nose - a bit 1-D. Not so on the palate - fully symphonic and great. Spicy, racy, pear, red berries with lots of spice and a touch of that cinnamon. Great acid and drive. Finish of berries, minerals and spice. If the nose matched the palate, this would score even higher. Nose - 5/6, Palate - 6/6, Finish - 5.5/6, Je Ne Sais Quoi - 1.5/2 = 18/20. (96 pts.)
  • N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut Sous le Mont - France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne
    Again from a solera stared with the 04 vintage, so it also contains 04 & 05 at this point. On the same hills as Clos de Goisses, but around the side. Also, Peter Liem told us that the vineyard soil contains a significant amount of Magnesium, and Selosse thinks this adds a bitterness to the wine). I found that bitterness on the nose, along with some funk or mushrooms, almost barnyard. Chalk. with lots of acid that combines with the bitterness. Good grip, but somewhat odd. Nose - 5/6, Palate - 5/6, Finish - 5./6, Je Ne Sais Quoi - 1/2 = 16/20. (92 pts.)

Substance and the 1999 vintage from Magnum

Substance, of course, being Selosse's most famous wine - a soldera wine dating back to 1986, that averages out over good vintages and bad, allowing the true nature of the terroir to show.

  • N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Substance - France, Champagne, Avize, Champagne
    Disgorged 2011. Creamy with lots of oxidized notes. Some orange, oldpear, wax? Nuts? Very full and rich on the palate but with huge acid - waxy with toast. Really mouthfilling and dense. Baroque but with great drive and structure. Verging on heavy, but not. Nose - 5/6, Palate - 5.5/6, Finish - 5.5/6, Je Ne Sais Quoi - 1.5/2 = 17.5/20. (95 pts.)
  • N.V. Jacques Selosse Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Substance - France, Champagne, Avize, Champagne
    Disgorged 2001. From the get-go I got musty notes in this I couldn't get past. The somm showed me another bottle that was corked, and it was nothing like my glass, and way worse. I took it to Peter Liem and he said he liked his glass a great deal, smelled mine and proposed that it might have been the glass itself. Got a fresh glass and also a glass from the other bottle, but by that point in the evening, it was hard to get back on track. To me, the new pour didn't have the mustiness, but was fairly reticent. Some cider and honey and nuts. Not showy - chalk and minerals on the palate with good acid. Nose - 5/6, Palate - 5/6, Finish - 5/6, Je Ne Sais Quoi - 1/2 = 16/20. (92 pts.)
  • 1999 Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Millésimé - France, Champagne
    From Magnum. Peter Liem reported that Selosse picked this super ripe, and ended up with about 14.5% alcohol ... and it shows. Minerally and chalky on the nose, with ripe fruit behind that. Big on the palate and quite ripe and rich. Some apricot, lemon, honey and minerals and chalk. Rich, delicious, but somewhat heavy in my opinion. Nose - 5.5/6, Palate - 4.5/6, Finish - 4.5/6, Je Ne Sais Quoi - 1/2 = 15.5/20. (91 pts.)

Overall, a wonderful tasting, and worth the steep price of admission. I didn't love every wine, but the average level was very high, there were a number of stars, and I was able to get a feel for Selosse's overall style and vision.

 


 
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