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Champagne Gosset

Tom Cannavan, 03/14

gosset Gosset, founded by Pierre Gosset in 1584, has the distinction of being the oldest wine producer in Champagne. The house was owned by the Gosset family right up until the 1990s. Since 1994, Gosset has remained in family ownership, but now in the hands of one branch of the Cointreau family, also owners of the Cognac house, Frapin.

The last 20 years has seen significant growth for Gosset, with production more than doubled. Whilst some have complained that quality has suffered, the wines still achieve widespread acclaim. In 2010 the entire production moved into a new state-of-the-art production facility in Épernay which, writing in the new edition of the Sotheby's World Encyclopaedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine, Tom Stevenson and Essi Avellan predict "should help Gosset in further fine-tuning the quality of its Champagnes."

Gosset's style is pretty uncompromising. The sweetening 'dosage' is always low, and generally malolactic fermentation is blocked in the base wines. The wines, for all that there is extensive use of reserve wines in many cuvées, have a very decisive core of acidity that means they are often much better, much more approachable, with a few years in bottle. Around 40% of Gosset's one million bottle annual production is sold in France, the remainder exported to 75 different countries. They suggest that around 70% of their sales are through fine dining restaurants.

I have always loved the 'Grand Réserve', not Gosset's top wine, but one that has such nutty and generous depth of aroma and flavour. But this tasting took in four of their cuvées including the newly released 2002 vintage of their Prestige Cuvée, Célébris. The wines were presented at a dinner in Edinburgh's excellent restaurant Martin Wishart, and as I had tasted two other Gosset cuvées just two months ago, I have included notes on those too.

the wines

Gosset is imported into the UK by McKinley Vintners Ltd, and prices quoted below are from Great Grog Ltd, who arranged the tasting dinner (greatgrog.co.uk).

Champagne Gosset, Brut Excellence NV, France
Whilst the rest of the Gosset range looks very distinctive in its elegant antique-style bottles, the entry level cuvée, even with updated packaging for 2014, looks different and in many ways is different. A blend of 45% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier, the dosage is 11g/l and whilst it has plenty of crisp and appley aromas, it opens up on the palate with a hint of sweet peach and lemon zest zing. The appeal is fairly straightforward, and whilst not as distinguished as some in the portfolio, it has good balance and combination of approachability and refined, racy freshness. 88/100. £36.29, Great Grog. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com.

Grande Champagne Gosset, Grande Réserve Brut NV, France
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with a little Pinot Meunier in this multi-vintage blend - which sometimes also has a proportion of the rarer Champagne grapes Fromenteau, Arbanne and Petit Meslier too. There's 8g/l dosage. Rich, nutty stuff with bruised pear and apple nutty oxidation in this cuvée . The palate has that vinous, super-charged character, but retains a slippery freshness and lovely crisp, dry apple acidity against that nuttiness. The relatively high proportion of Reserve wines used by Gosset give this lovely developed complexity from the word go. 93/100. £45.50, Great Grog. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com.

Champagne Gosset, Grand Blanc de Blancs NV, France
Launched recently, this all-Chardonnay cuvée is sourced from the Montagne de Reims as well as top villages of the Côte des Blancs. Malolactic is blocked, the dosage is only 7g/l, but the wine does rest on the lees for four years before disgorgement. This is in Gosset's more open, rich and nicely oxidative style, with lots of bruised fruit and nutty notes and a formidable orange-fruit intensity. Delightful freshness and zip on the palate, slicing through the finish with citrus and clean, mineral and apple intensity but real finesse too. 91-92/100. £61.89, Great Grog. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com.

Champagne Gosset, Grand Rosé NV, France
The Rose is composed of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, with the addition of 7% of red Pinot Noir from Bouzy and Ambonnay in a rosé made by 'assemblage' rather than the skin contact method of 'saignée'. It spends four years on the lees before disgorgement. What a lovely, bold raspberry and softer strawberry fruit it presents on the nose, with a hint of Pinot earthiness and truffle and a little yeasty note. There's a nicely drying nip of tannin on the palate, but lots of Pinot character with truffle and soft red berries, and fine balancing acidity. 92/100. £54.60, Great Grog. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com.

celebris Champagne Gosset, Grand Millésime 2004, France
The 2004 vintage has turned out to be excellent for Champagne, and Gosset's release is 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir, aged on the lees for a full six years. It has a dosage of 8g/l and is a wine that ramps up that bruised fruit character into a toffeed richness, but it is leesy with an earthy, umami character too. Really racy on the palate, with concentration here, plenty of honeyed, biscuity flavours, in a wine that also has an elegant, sheer acidity and that is clearly just a baby. 93/100. Around £70, Berry Bros & Rudd and see all stockists on wine-searcher.com.

Champagne Gosset, Célébris Extra Brut 2002, France
Célébris is sourced from top Grand Cru villages, a blend of slightly more Chardonnay than Pinot Noir (52% as opposed to 48%). It is Extra Brut with only 5g/l dosage and once again, malolactic fermentation was blocked. From one of Champagne's greatest vintages, this has a bold golden colour and is immediately tight and fantastically mineral on the nose. There are hints of toffee and a lovely lime and pear-skin richness giving this a powerful aromatic character. It is massively concentrated and indeed powerful on the palate. It's a young wine with huge intensity, tight and appley fruit. but shimmering length and such cool precision. It is steely, almost like a Grand Cru Chablis, with such beautiful length and balance that it can be admired now, but will undoubtedly improve with cellaring. 94-95/100. £114.46, Great Grog. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com.