A dozen years in Gosset’s cellars

There have been a few ‘extra aged’ Champagne hitting the market in recent years, wines like Lanson ‘Extra Age’ and Veuve-Clicquot’s ‘Extra Brut,Extra Old’. These are quite different from late disgorged or late released vintage Champagnes (like Bollinger ‘R.D.’ or Dom Perignon’s ‘Plenitude’ series for example) in that they are mostly non-vintage blends, specifically blended from components the cellarmasters believes will suit the substantial extra ageing.

Gosset (itself the oldest house in Champagne, founded in the 16th century) entered this market back in 2016 with the rare ’15 ans’, a wine that had spent 15 years de cave a minima, resting on the lees before disgorgement. In June 2020 they unveiled the latest incarnation of this style, a 12-year-old blend of 51% Pinot Noir and 49% Chardonnay. It is a Brut Champagne, with a modest 7g/l of dosage.

I was fortunate to be able to taste the wine along with Cellarmaster Odilon de Varine (right) and Gosset’s Export director Bertrand Verduzier thanks to the wonders of Zoom. Bertrand began with a recap of Gosset’s history, reminding me that: “The Gosset family has made wine in the region since long before the arrival of bubbles, so it is natural that we remain focused on Gosset as a terroir wine.” The Gossets sold the business to the Cointreau family in 1993, but it remains one of the smallest of the Grande Marque houses. “We still have a position that allows us to make small and experimental batches of wine. There will be new surprises starting next year,” teases Bertrand.

Cellarmaster Odilon is confident about further ageability: “This cuvée benefited from 12 years on the lees in the bottle. The maturity the wine gained in the cellar will enable further aging whilst keeping freshness.” He also says the genesis of the project was about “time and luxury”, as people do not have enough of either at the moment. In some ways it is also to cut through the confusion of some customers given the enormous range of vintages and wines on the market, and give the consumer a mature wine they can trust. “We voluntarily ‘forgot’ some bottles which remained in the cellar for this project. The idea is freshness and complexity, the long time on lees preserving the wine.”

Based on the 2006 vintage, but with many other components “used as spices,” it is not a vintage wine, but Odilon says “The blend is made with the purpose of ageing on lees.” Odilon describes 2006 as “a good year, maybe not as good as 2002, but a fine expression of Pinot Noir.” He suggests ‘carafing’ this wine after pouring an aperitif glass straight from the bottle, to have with food once the wine has opened slightly. He explains: “just put a couple of glasses into a carafe and let it ‘take a breath’ before pouring.”

The fact sheet:

  • Malolactic fermentation avoided to preserve natural fruit character
  • Brut, with a dosage of 7g/l
  • Aged 12 years in the cellars
  • Pinot Noir 51%, Chardonnay 49%
  • Chardonnays: Avize, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Villers-Marmery
  • Pinots Noirs: Aÿ, Louvois, Ambonnay, Bouzy, Verzy
  • Disgorged December 2019
  • Suggested serving Temperature: 8°C.

The Wine

(2020)

Beautiful colour, a burnished hint of gold to the straw yellow, masses of streaming, miniscule bubbles. Absolutely beguiling nose, with the subtle oxidative notes from the 12 years on lees, some toast and custard, but fresh orchard fruits, little greengage and yellow plum notes, and really very multi-layered. The wine tightens up considerably on the palate, immediately citrussy and bright, but with a supple, smooth and rounded texture. There is a definite lick of salty minerals in the finish, further tensioning the picture. Really very lovely, intriguing balance between the open, matured flavours and youthful zest and energy. Odilon thinks it will age extremely well, because of that long contact with the lees. 12,000 bottles produced.

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