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“Nature is larger and bigger than all of us. It’s crazy to think that man can dominate nature.”

Anselme Selosse issued this profound statement while explaining his winemaking philosophy one recent morning at his small property in Avize, a village in Champagne’s Côte des Blancs.
“Wines must show the characteristics of the place,” he continued. “Illuminating the vineyard is my obsession.”
For Selosse, wine has a higher purpose. A wine must translate place, clearly expressing the characteristics of the soils and climate in which it’s grown.  This concept — the notion of terroir — is hardly unique. Winemakers across the world wax poetically about how “wine is made in the vineyard.” When Selosse took over his father’s winery in 1974, however, such talking points weren’t yet clichéd. In Champagne, especially, few producers cared about such things.

There were exceptions, of course. But most of the large producers that dominated the region sought simply to deliver a consistent product each year. They purchased grapes from growers across Champagne and paid by the ton. So growers sought to “dominate nature,” maximizing yields by utilizing fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.
The results were predictably atrocious, but it didn’t matter. For most producers and virtually every consumer, Champagne wasn’t about wine; it was about luxury. So Selosse’s philosophy wasn’t just unusual, it was downright revolutionary. Selosse learned to care about the quality of the fruit underneath a wine in Burgundy, where he was inspired by the legendary vignerons at Domaine Coche-Dury, Domaine Leflaive and Domaine des Comtes Lafon.  Shortly after taking over his father’s vineyard holdings, Selosse began moving towards organic farming, obsessing over his land, and managing yields with a focus on quality. He started to push ripeness to its physiological extreme, a difficult feat in France’s northernmost wine region.

In the cellar, Selosse chose to focus on his vin clair — the still wine that’s created before secondary fermentation — because “[it] shows that all the flavors are there; bubbles are just an accessory.”
Although soft-spoken, Selosse speaks with the fervor of a firebrand preacher, the charm of a practiced storyteller, and the passion of a zealous philosopher. As we chatted in his cellar, Selosse talked at great length about the microorganisms that live in a vineyard’s soil — and the unique characteristics they bring to his wines.To illustrate this theme, he pointed towards the ceiling, where the hindquarters of several pigs were hanging, slowly curing. For Selosse, the difference between Prosciutto di Parma, Jamon Iberico and Jambon de Bayonne can be explained entirely by the flora, fauna and fungi the pigs feed on in different regions of the world. He quickly extended the argument to cheese, milk and saké.

A moment later, Selosse pulled out a cigarette lighter, found a piece of paper and lit it on fire. Within seconds, he was left with a small pile of ash. Since all living things resolve to little more than carbon, he said, the identity of everything we consume is found in the ground.  “Nowhere else in the world can you make wines with the flavors we have here,” he explained, bringing it all back to Champagne.Scientific? Perhaps not. But with wines that are so extraordinarily expressive, I’m a believer.
Selosse’s wines aren’t easy to find. Miniscule production and a cult-like following have brought the prices sky-high. When available, his least expensive offering retails for $165 per bottle.

His impact can’t be overstated. Selosse has inspired a whole generation of growers to pursue wine’s higher purpose. And he has inspired a whole generation of consumers to see Champagne as a vessel, fully capable of expressing a vineyard.

David White is the founder and editor of Terroirist.com, which was named “Best Overall Wine Blog” at the 2013 Wine Blog Awards.

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History

“It is hard to think of a single individual in Champagne today whose work ... is more influen- tial than that of Anselme Selosse ... if the future of Champagne truly is going to be one in which terroir plays more of a role then the region as a whole will have to pay more attention to Selosse and less to its accountants and brand managers.”

Andrew Jeffords, The New France

 

“I’ve mentioned the name of Anselme Selosse on several occasions ... partly because he’s my favorite grower and partly because he’s the most original winemaker in all of Champagne ... Selosse’s wines have given Champagne a new dimension, with their unique, vinous, Chardonnay style ... Despite this fame, his wines cost nothing compared to Pétrus, Romanée-Conti, or Krug Clos du Mesnil.” Richard Juhlin, 4000 Champagnes

 

In 1949 Jacques Selosse, Anselme's father, created the domaine

Every decade or so, a winemaker comes along who, through the force of his ideas, and the brilliance of his work, has the power to change the course of wine history. Anselme Selosse is such an individual—and the man most responsible for the revolution that’s changing Champagne for the better.

Since taking over Champagne Jacques Selosse in 1980, Anselme has used the uncompromising bril- liance of his wines—as well as no small amount of charisma—to challenge Champagne’s old defintions for excellence. If ten or twenty years from now, small, quality-driven growers have finally taken their share of the power—and the big houses have fully embraced the ideas of low yields, chemical-free vine- yards and terroir-based wines—Anselme will deserve much of the credit.

A New Perspective

Anselme came of age in the 1970s, a time when the Champagne industry was famously, and pervasively, indifferent to fruit quality. A few big producers called the shots, and small growers wielded little power. Nowhere else in France were “brands” so dominant, with fruit bought and sold as a commod- ity, and with the town of origin as the sole determi- nant of price. In this system, growers had no incen- tive for lower yields, or labor-intensive organic viti- culture, and vineyard work generally was abysmal.

It took a different perspective to understand what was wrong, and Anselme was the man to provide it. He had studied œnology not in Champagne, but in Burgundy, where he was introduced to such greats as Coche-Dury, Lafon and Leflaive. There he also learned the kind of commitment needed to produce profound, individualistic wines from great terroirs.

In 1974, Anselme completed his studies and began to develop his ideas at his father’s estate, centered in Avize on the Côte de Blancs. Six years later the domaine became his, and he threw him- self into radical change: dramatically reducing

Anselme Selosse

yields and farming organically. Working with his wife Corinne, he adopted ideas that were starting to become accepted in other parts of France but were still considered heretical by Champagne’s establishment.

Basic Principles

Perhaps Anselme’s most important insight was that to make profound Champagne, you must start with a great wine for the base. Fortunately for him, he was blessed with spectacular grand cru vineyard holdings in Avize, Cramant, and Oger.

In fact, while much has been made of his wine- making methods, Anselme’s emphasis on viticul- ture and terroir may have been his greatest advance. He is one of the world’s most profound thinkers about the relationship between healthy soils and the wines that spring from them. With low yields and fastidious viticulture, he is able to harvest fruit that is not only Champagne’s most physiologically ripe, but also its most expressive.

In the winery, Selosse defies convention by using only indigenous yeasts for fermentations and by minimizing the use of SO2. He ferments and raises his wines in wood barrels (less than 20% new) and leaves them on their fine lees for extended periods.

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Vineyards

Similar to the very top producers in Burgundy, Selosse adopted biodynamic viticulture and continues to strive hard to express the characteristics of the underlying terrior. With a mere 7.5 hectare of vineyards, Domaine Jacques Selosse only produces 4,750 cases per year

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Winemaking

Today, the Selosses has some forty parcels spread throughout Avize, Cramant, le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Ambonnay. Following with Burgundian tradition, the wines are fermented in barrel. My job is to find "each individual character its rightful home”. "I am not the master, merely a servant to all these different personalities.” Anselme Selosse.

It is a measure of what Anselme has accomplished that in 1994, Gault-Millau named him France’s best winemaker in every category, an unprecedented honor. Accolades like this have contributed to his reputation as perhaps the most original winemaker in France today, admired not only by his peers but by a legion of collectors worldwide who covet each and every bottle of Jacques Selosse Champagne they can find.

Perhaps Anselme’s most important insight was that to make profound Champagne, you must start with a great wine for the base. Fortunately for him, he was blessed with spectacular grand cru vineyard holdings in Avize, Cramant, and Oger.

In fact, while much has been made of his winemaking methods, Anselme’s emphasis on viticulture and terroir may have been his greatest advance. He is one of the world’s most profound thinkers about the relationship between healthy soils and the wines that spring from them. With low yields and fastidious viticulture, he is able to harvest fruit that is not only Champagne’s most physiologically ripe, but also its most expressive.

  • Selosse features some of the lowest yielding vines in the region – leading to the region’s ripest, most expressive fruit. They encourage the natural growth and evolution of the soil so that it may express minerality in the wine.
  • Primary fermentations occur in a mix of pieces (228L), fût (400L), and demi-muids (600L).
  • Malolatic fermentations are free to occur (or not) as each individual lot evolves.
  • Wines are held for one year in barrel, with a 16% new barrels added to the rotation each year. Reserve wines spend a year in foudre before moving to INOX.

In the winery, Selosse defies convention by using only indigenous yeasts for fermentations and by minimizing the use of SO2. He ferments and raises his wines in wood barrels (less than 20% new) and leaves them on their fine lees for extended periods.

Such techniques may explain why his wines have such towering quality, but they cannot explain why no one else has been able to duplicate the elusive “Selosse” flavor profile or the remarkable texture his wines exhibit. This is surely a tribute to the man, as well as to his viticulture.

Anselme’s questing intelligence has been testing Champagne’s limits for more than 25 years. This profound body of knowledge must account for some of the Selosse magic.

For example, his innovative use of barriques has allowed Anselme tremendous control over the role that oxygen plays in his base wines. He has also been at the forefront of the low-dosage movement, believing that his wines, with their purity of flavor, need no make-up. Over time, such experimentation has led to several fully-realized masterpieces, culminating in his prodigious vintage wines and the transcendent solera, Substance.

It is a measure of what Anselme has accomplished that in 1994, Gault-Millau named him France’s best winemaker in every category, an unprecedented honor. Accolades like this have contributed to his reputation as perhaps the most original winemaker in France today, admired not only by his peers but by a legion of collectors worldwide who covet each and every bottle of Jacques Selosse Champagne they can find.

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Inside information

Perhaps Anselme’s most important insight was that to make profound Champagne, you must start with a great wine for the base. Fortunately for him, he was blessed with spectacular grand cru vineyard holdings in Avize, Cramant, and Oger.

In fact, while much has been made of his winemaking methods, Anselme’s emphasis on viticulture and terroir may have been his greatest advance. He is one of the world’s most profound thinkers about the relationship between healthy soils and the wines that spring from them. With low yields and fastidious viticulture, he is able to harvest fruit that is not only Champagne’s most physiologically ripe, but also its most expressive. In the winery, Selosse defies convention by using only indigenous yeasts for fermentations and by minimizing the use of SO2. He ferments and raises his wines in wood barrels (less than 20% new) and leaves them on their fine lees for extended periods.


Such techniques may explain why his wines have such towering quality, but they cannot explain why no one else has been able to duplicate the elusive “Selosse” flavor profile or the remarkable texture his wines exhibit. This is surely a tribute to the man, as well as to his viticulture.

Anselme’s questing intelligence has been testing Champagne’s limits for more than 25 years. This profound body of knowledge must account for some of the Selosse magic.

 

 

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13 different wines with 52 vintages

Winemaking since 1950

  • Anselme Selosse

    “Nature is larger and bigger than all of us. It’s crazy to think that man can dominate nature.”

Highlights

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Wine Moments

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

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Wine Writer (South Korea)  tasted  2 wines  from  Jacques Selosse . In a tasting of  16 wines 

Chateau Musar 1998 / This is a beautifully mature wine that is delicious to enjoy now. The wine has elegance, persistence and ethereal flavours of dried autumn leaves, black truffles and pu'er tea. Lovely, silky texture, supple palate and a long finish. An impressive wine that rivals the best of Bordeaux

3m 12d ago

 Richard Juhlin , Wine Writer (Sweden)  tasted  2 wines  from  Jacques Selosse . In a tasting of  31 wines 

Thiénot x Penfolds Blanc de Blancs 2012 / The dosage stored in Penfold's Australian barrels. In all three wines where Peter Gago had a hand and his barrels in the production, you have an added and impressive power and butterscotch oakiness. The wines are simply larger and more expressive than in the steel tank-fermented prestige champagnes from Thiénot. The very best in the trio with a Comtes de Champagne-like opulence and fullness. Even more roasted and coffee-scented than the model and at least as smooth texture. Not quite the same depth and elegance, but it is a fantastic champagne in any case.

5m 6d ago

 Michael Scott / Wine Importer, Pro (Canada)  tasted  1 wines  from  Jacques Selosse . In a tasting of  11 wines 

Charles Heidsieck Vintage 2008/The attack on the palate is delicate and develops gently. The bubbles seem to melt within the body of the wine, which is robust, and supported by the sugar content attains a comfortingly creamy texture that is particularly enjoyable, almost reminiscent of umami. Throughout the tasting, the acidity heightens, culminating in the finish, which is very long (over 10 seconds) and delivers a burst of intense flavors: acidity, sweetness and salinity. It closes with a chalky minerality, with aromas of honey and brioche lingering on the palate.

9m 9d ago

 Antonio Galloni, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  4 wines  from  Jacques Selosse . In a tasting of  26 wines 

The NV Brut Grande Cuvée Grand Siècle No. 24 (Magnum) is ethereal and beautifully lifted. White flowers, mint, white pepper and green orchard fruit all grace this exquisite, super-expressive Champagne. I would cellar the No. 24, as it is pretty tight today and also not ready to deliver the full Grand Siècle experience. The blend is 2007 (60%), 2006 (20%) and 2004 (20%), three vintages that are especially complementary. Disgorged May 27, 2019. 

1y 2m ago

 Richard Juhlin , Wine Writer (Sweden)  tasted  1 wines  from  Jacques Selosse . In a tasting of  20 wines 

Salon Oenothèque 1961 / 99 points / If I was close to crying in disappointment over the 66' on the Tidelius tasting, the tears really came in the next flight when this bottle disgorged at the same time and with exactly the same low dosage was so lovely that the emotions overflowed. In fact, this wonderfully youthful champagne is the bottle that most reminded me of the world's best wine 1928 Pol Roger Grauves. Here was the same unlikely contrast between youthfulness and nicely mature notes. The scent is so unreal with its euphoric pheromone-like perfume uplifted by linden, geranium, lily of the valley, acacia, ginger, fresh tarragon, mint, lime peel and Sorrento lemon. Glass-clear brilliance and laser-sharp sharpness and precision. Caressing with faint undertones of vanilla, brioche and roasting. Pure flint mineral finesse and swirling little pearl necklace bubbles that dance ballet in the palate. What is missing in relation to 28' Grauves is a well thickened oiliness that may come in twenty years or so. Imagine that a 51-year-old can personify snowmelt, spring winter and the rebirth of life.

1y 3m ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  3 wines  from  Jacques Selosse . In a tasting of  198 wines 

Wow, the 100 Best Champagnes ranking for 2021 is launched. It was such a pleasure to be part of the tasting panel and experience the great overall quality of all the champagnes. Such a superb line-up from prestige champagnes to non-vintages from Grands Maisons to growers and coops. Where there any surprises? Hell yes, check out the rankings and you'll see!

1y 4m ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Editor of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Jacques Selosse . In a tasting of  25 wines 

The 5th day of Champagne Magazines annual The 100-Best Champagnes of the year 2020 -tasting!

1y 6m ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Jacques Selosse . In a tasting of  47 wines 

100 Best Champagne semifinals continue.... Some great surprises, such as Alfred Gratien Brut Millésime 2007!

1y 6m ago

 Essi Avellan MW , Wine Writer (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Jacques Selosse . In a tasting of  50 wines 

Champagne Magazine's 100 Best Champagnes 2021 -tasting day II.

1y 7m ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Editor of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  2 wines  from  Jacques Selosse . In a tasting of  72 wines 

Champagne Magazines 100 Best Champagnes 2020 -tasting day III.

2y 3m ago

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