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News

ENVIRONMENT : PHILIPPONNAT, CHAMPION OF THE ULTRA REASONNABLE STRUGGLE

In charge of a 49 acres vineyard, Charles Philipponnat wishes to highlight quality. « We have been working with quality in mind for the past 15 years. This is achieved through small details, such as wooden stick at the start of each rank, fiberwood clips or paper ties. More important, we have chosen to grow exclusively black Pinot. We use field selections from Burgundy origins, with lesser performance, but better maturing qualities. We only use organic fertilizers, and we arrange grassy banks along with wild hedgerows to help developp wildlife. All the weeds clearing is done manually, without chemicals, and the out of reeach part of the Clos de Goisses is done by hand, using a finger weeder. »

philipponnat-chevalMKB_0116_1379


This former Sciences Po graduate can go on and on about this subject bound to become the company’s main communication strategy.
« This certification helps put forward our way of doing things, even if the quality of our wines is our best advocate. We are not a « bio » winery, but close enough, because we do ban totally the use of copper sulfate, much more toxic in our opinion than the synthetic products available to fight off Mildiou, the vineyard’s worts ennemy in mild climates ».

BY JEAN-BAPTISTE DUTEURTRE

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History

The Philipponnat family, owners of the award-winning vineyard, have been in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ since 1522. In 1935, the founder of the champagne house, Pierre Philipponnat, bought the 5.5-hectare vineyard, and created Champagne’s first clos wine in 1947. Today, the house belongs to Lanson–BCC’s portfolio and is managed by Charles Philipponnat, who is also the winemaker charged with the peculiar task of trying to tame the wild style of Clos des Goisses. He is the man who returned the wines into oak barrels, but it is very difficult to detect the influence of that move, as even the steel tank-fermented vintages develop an oak-like bouquet as they age. The unique steep slope by the canal in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ is planted with 70 per cent Pinot Noir and 30 per cent Chardonnay, but most vintages contain 65 per cent Pinot Noir, as a small portion of the grapes end up in other cuvées. In some years, the house also produces a rare but unexciting still red from the crop. Even rarer and much more exciting are the 200 bottles of still Chardonnay that Philipponnat produces each year for its own use.

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Vineyards

Philipponnat owns 18 hectares of vines and farms another two under a sharecropping agreement, all of which are located in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Aÿ, Avenay Val d’Or and Mutigny. Mareuil-sur-Aÿ makes up the majority of the house’s holdings, and their 11 hectares there include the magnificent, 5.5-hectare Clos des Goisses, Champagne’s most renowned vineyard site, from which they make a vintage-dated, single-vineyard champagne. The house has traditionally fermented all wines in tank or old oak foudres, but since 2000 the Clos des Goisses has been partially (40 to 50 percent) fermented in 228-liter oak barrels. Some barrel-fermented wine can be used for other cuvées as well, and this is likely to increase in the future. In 2004, Philipponnat completed a new winery next to the cellars in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ to accommodate all of the winemaking, and this has undoubtedly resulted in an improvement in quality, as in the past their presshouse was located in Reims. While the Clos des Goisses is always made without malolactic, the other champagnes contain a portion of malolactic wines depending on the cuvée and the vintage.
 

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Winemaking

Since taking over in 1999, Charles has returned Philipponnat to its last Golden Age, 1913-1962, when Louis Boland was chef de caves. Boland's wines were the essence of Pinot Noir from the house's vineyards in the Montagne de Reims. Charles' Champagnes also fully exploit these prized vineyards, and the resulting wines revel in their Pinot-infused glory.

Under Charles, Philipponnat's wines aren't just more intense, they're also fresher (due to using only first-pressing Chardonnay). And to the traditional tank and foudre fermentation, Charles has added smaller neutral barrels for more depth and complexity. To maximize their character, the non-vintage wines age for 3 years en tirage, while the vintage cuvées spend from 5 to 10 years on the lees.

Through great vision, technical skill and perfectionist attention to detail–and the pride of five centuries of tradition–Charles has created a range of Champagnes with few peers for quality and character. This ranges from the towering Clos des Goisses to the superb Royale Réserve and Reserve Rosé, two of the finest non-vintage brut Champagnes on the market today.

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Inside information

I always find this impressive world-class wine one of the most elusive and perplexing wines out there. Sometimes I don’t get it and ask myself whether I’ve overestimated its potential, only to wonder the next time how I could have underrated this uncut diamond. Why is it like that? The most obvious explanation is that we are dealing with a “slow starter”; a real cellar wine that needs decades to fully unfurl its colourful peacock’s tail. But assuming that time by itself can explain the phenomenon would be to trivialise this single-vineyard wine’s dual personality.

For me, it is Champagne’s number one still white wine, together with Giraud’s Aÿ Blanc. For the sake of precision, it might be proper to note that this, one of Champagne’s finest vineyards, is not a grand cru and only has premier cru status. A serious flaw in the system, it seems. Recently of an evening I brought together a small group of like-minded Clos des Goisses fans to taste the last seven vintages. It was very obvious that the simple 2001 had the most linear development in that set. This phenomenon leads to there being highly diverse personal descriptions even when wine experts try to capture the vineyard’s true essence. I think timing is a key factor, even more so than usual, when enjoying Clos de Goisses. If you have no idea what phase the wine is at, it is best to be sure and wait until the wine’s 20-year mark. Then the characteristic nuttiness and cakey tones will stand out in one way or another. If you lack the patience for that, invest in lesser-known vintages, which mature sooner. Regardless of the vintage, remember always to decant Clos des Goisses and serve it with carefully considered food. Decanting a champagne can be tricky, as it is crucial to cool down the carafe to the same temperature as the bottle, and to have a very steady pouring hand so as not to lose too much of its sparkle. Our chef Carl Ljung very skilfully combined veal, mushrooms, seaweed, turbot, puy lentils, duck liver and Comté fondue with these gastro-friendly wines. Let your Goisses rest in the cellar until the autumn chill and use it to crown magnificent winter dinners with its deep, golden majesty.

Richard Juhlin

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15 different wines with 107 vintages

Highlights

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Philipponnat . In a tasting of  31 wines 

The Finnish summer has not started yet - the sea is still cold (+14c) and it's raining every second day - but the colder the weather is, the better is the taste:)


Here are some summer wines I have tried between the showers.

2m 6d ago

 Pekka Ala-Pietila  tasted  1 wines  from  Philipponnat . In a tasting of  20 wines 

Great Dom Pérignon vertical tasting from 1943 vintage to 2005 vintage.

3m 12d ago

 Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Philipponnat . In a tasting of  26 wines 

KRUG CLOS DU MESNIL 1995 / The toasty nose, with a suggestion of oak, is both subtle and layered. The structure is exceptional; the rich fruitiness of the vintage is combined charmingly with the stylish acidity of the Chardonnay. The concentration is perfect and the length of the taste does not leave any room for improvement. The wines of the 1995 vintage can usually be enjoyed at a young age but the rather unattached aroma of oak should be allowed to integrate into the fruitiness of the wine over time.

6m 14d ago

 Paulius Gruodis, Pro (Lithuania)  tasted  1 wines  from  Philipponnat . In a tasting of  21 wines 

Last Friday we had a marvelous and quite an intensive vertical of Dom Pérignon. Certain vintages in the tasting were not only rare but also representing some of the greatest cuvée prestige made in the last century. More than half of the lineup was Plénitude (previously called by the house Oenotheque to label its late re-release and recently disgorged champagne) which was another remarkable feature of this tasting. I was lucky enough to taste the following vintages of DP: 1943, 1955, 1961, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1990 Rosé, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

7m 4d ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Philipponnat . In a tasting of  26 wines 

Last Friday we had 23 vintages of Dom Pérignon. We started with Rosé 1990 P3 Magnum and then continued with some of the best Dom Pérignon vintages ever made -1943, 1955, 1961, 1966, 1969, 1973 etc. and ended with the lastest release - 2006 vintage. The TOP 3 was 1988 P3, 1995 P2 and 1982 vintage. 

7m 8d ago

 Tuula Hällström, Wine Collector (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Philipponnat . In a tasting of  22 wines 

A massive Dom Pérignon tasting with 22 vintages from 1943-2006.

7m 8d ago

 Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  tasted  6 wines  from  Philipponnat . In a tasting of  20 wines 

The 1983 vintage was a challenging one at Latour. The flowering period in June was unproblematic and July was very hot, with a temperature 4° C above the seasonal average. But the weather was stormy and humidity remained high causing problems with cryptogamic diseases and black rot. The unpredictable and humid weather continued in August, lowering expectations for the harvest. But in September the  fine weather finally set in for a period of three months: the spread of rot was halted and even regressed. From then on, ripening progressed perfectly. The vintage started on 22 September and continued until 11 October.


            Moderately rich purple colour. Mature nose of cassis, undergrowth and attractive spiciness. Despite the difficult conditions and attractive elegance and harmony was captured in the 1983 vintage. Less concentration that in most Latours but the wine has charm and moderate tannin and refreshing acidity. Touches of oak and spiciness on the long aftertaste. A delicate wine at a perfect age for drinking. Will not benefit much from further maturation but will keep for another decade.

7m 21d ago

 James Aylward, Wine Collector (Australia)  tasted  1 wines  from  Philipponnat . In a tasting of  14 wines 

The Grands Crus of Chambertin are iconic Pinot Noir wines; powerful, virile, complex and intense. They demand equally complex, hightoned dishes to keep the pairing in balance. Feathered game (grilled or, better still, in wine sauce) will, of course, be a worthy companion. The power of the wine’s tannins will withstand the shock of contrasting textures while its aromatic complexity and above all its opulence will bring out the differences.
Roast lamb in gravy, chicken in red wine sauce, glazed poultry, and rib steak will also benefit from the match, not forgetting soft-centred cheeses which will get strong support from the wine’s power and aromatic persistence.
Serving temperature: 12 to 14°C for young wines,14 to 16°C for older wines.

8m 16d ago

 Björnstierne Antonson / sommelier, Pro (Sweden)  tasted  1 wines  from  Philipponnat . In a tasting of  10 wines 

"MY TOP 10 CHAMPAGNES OF 2016"

8m 18d ago

 Robert Langer, Wine Collector (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Philipponnat . In a tasting of  24 wines 

Some great bottles of champagnes with old red rarities.

8m 25d ago

 Mark Beaven , Pro (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Philipponnat . In a tasting of  118 wines 

BF Post-Bday Marathon Tasting with White Truffle Twist + Elvis - 118 wines!

10m 23d ago

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