Philipponnat ranks indisputably with the four-star producers because it is the majestic wine produced from the stunning single-vineyard called the Clos des Goisses. The vineyard was cobbled together in a series of transactions made by Pierre Philipponnat beginning in 1935.
The vineyard is a 5.83 ha site on steep slopes facing due south in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. Because of the dramatic slope, which reaches 45° in some places, this is an exceptional site to grow grapes. The vineyard is appreciably warmer than the rest of the village. Because of these conditions, a vintage wine can be produced almost every year.
The winery was sold in 1998 to BCC, whose president Bruno Paillard appointed Charles Philipponnat director and confirmed Thierry Garnier as Chef de Caves. Philipponnat’s team has put together a seductive profile for its flagship wine. The blend is a mixture of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with anywhere from 50 – 75% fermented in cask.
Clos des Goisses is released in blanc and Rosé versions, and there is a Long Vieillissement (late-disgorged) bottling as well. Relatively new introductions at Philipponnat include their Parcellaires series and the super-cuvée from the Clos des Goisses called Les Cintres. Each of these is eminently worth seeking out and aging, while the 1522 series will provide great satisfaction for more everyday consumption.
Anselme Selosse – son of Jacques Selosse – is a genius. Of his genius, we can be sure, although we may not agree about his wines. The style of the wines, like that of the man, is highly individual. With time, however, one inexorably comes to appreciate both. Selosse is one of Champagne's most profound thinkers about winemaking, viticulture, and the environment. He produces a prolific range of wines.
There are three non-vintage Blanc de Blancs made from grapes coming from his home village of Avize: Initial, Version Originale, and Substance. These are considered the "entry-level" wines, yet they are breathtaking. Many involve the fractional blending technique, often referred to as réserve perpetuelle or solera. The range gets particularly interesting, however, with the series of single-vineyard wines called the "lieux-dits". Each comes only from one individual site: Les Carelles vineyard in Le Mesnil; Chemin de Chalons in Cramant; Les Chantereines in Avize; La Cote Faron in Aÿ; Bout du Clos in Ambonnay and Sous le Mont in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ.
There is also a vintage-dated wine from Selosse, the aptly named Millésimé (French for "Vintage"). It is not produced every year, and when it is, there are only about 500 cases. Under Anselme, it was made exclusively from two sites in Avize planted with old vines, Les Maladries du Midi and Les Chantereines. Now that Anselme's son Guillaume manages the winery, the direction has changed. The vintage wine now comes from the best parcels across the domaine, including their holdings on the Montagne and in the Grande Vallée.