Anyone drink a bottle of Clos de Mesnil over the holidays after our last discussion? I hope you did! Thanks to Xoel Cantero Alvarez, Brandon Ford, Dustin Chabert, Jeremy Eubanks, Jill Zimorski and Mark Shipway for breaking it down for us.
This week let's keep up the theme: Clos de Goisses
Tell us its history. Where is it located? What are the soils like? Who makes it? What is the current release? What was the first vintage? What grapes is it composed of?
The champagne house, Philipponnat, purchased this 5.5ha vineyard in 1935 and produced the first vintage that year under the name, "Vin de Goisses," which they changed to its current name in 1959. The vineyard is unique in Champagne and the name, meaning some combination of anguish, terror and awfully steep, hints at its character. On the eastern edge of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ east of Épernay and on the southern flank of the Montagne de Reims, the vineyard rises up from the right bank of the Marne at a 30-45 degree slope, separated from the canal and river by only a narrow road. The soil of walled vineyard is entirely white chalk of around 30% active lime content that results bracingly energetic acidity and mineral character untempered by malolactic conversion in the cellar. Due to its perfectly southern orientation tucked beside the village buildings that protect it from easterly winds, the steep slope basks in reflected warmth from the sun and the grapes ripen in a mesoclimate that is roughly 1.5°C warmer than the surrounding area. Originally the vineyard was planted entirely to Chardonnay, though by 1964 Pinot Noir appeared in the blend and now the vineyard is planted to roughly 70% Pinot noir and 30% chardonnay. Chardonnay is relegated to the more easterly parcels. The vineyard has been churning out uninterrupted vintages since 2004, though the current release is 2009 and 2007 for the rosé. The wine is aged almost 10 years on the lees before release and tends to reach maturity after another decade in bottle.
It's interesting to see subtle and not so subtle changes to some of these historic wines. Going from a Blanc to Blanc to eventually a majority pinot wine. The fermentation vessels have been all over the place. Neutral 228l barrels, stainless, large oak, new oak. This wine has seen all of the variations.
One thing that's been steady: the Goissesness of the vineyard has meant that it's only horse plowed since the beginning.