TN: Anselme Selosse (Jacques Selosse) Legendary Dinner

ANSELME SELOSSE (JACQUES SELOSSE) LEGENDARY DINNER - Spruce Restaurant, San Francisco (3/21/2013)

This was a once-in-a-lifetime wine dinner put on by the Rare Wine Company because they didn’t know what to do with their very small allocation of single vineyard Selosse (24 bottles of each single vineyard imported into the country). In order to have as many people try it as possible, they decided to put on a few (very expensive) Selosse-themed dinners around the country. In summary, it was spectacular.
Aperitif
Served with small hors d’oeuvres. This was a very good wine to start the dinner, but it didn’t particularly stand out to me. I’m not sure if I would have spent the time and effort aging Huet for this result.

  • 1996 Huët Vouvray Sec Le Mont - France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray
    Served as an aperitif. Yellow-gold color; nose has nice balanced fruits, mineral, chalky; palate is rich, medium bodied, complex; finish is a bit tart. Very nice. 90-91 (90 pts.)

Initiale
This was a fascinating flight of three disgorgements of the Initiale: 2012, 2003, and 2001 (when it was called Tradition). There was a clear evolution between the 2012 to the 2003, but then the 2001 was somewhere between the other two in terms of evolution. Peter Liem explained to us that the 2003 was likely based on the 1997 vintage, which evolved relatively quickly, while the 2001 was likely based on the 1995, which is still early in its evolution. I certainly loved all three wines and each had its own character, but I probably give a slight edge to the 2003 disgorgement that had great complexity and some lovely mature notes (ready to drink). The other two were still young but pleasurable in their own youthful and vibrant way.

This course was paired with oysters en gelee with local caviar.

  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Brut Initiale - France, Champagne
    Disgorged in 2012. Color is light yellow-gold; aromatic, complex, very distinct granny smith apple nose, clean, fresh, slight yeast but definitely not the defining characteristic; palate is clean, fresh, apples, tart (green apples); long finish. This is superb today and has much room for improvement with a bit of age. 94-95 (94 pts.)
  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Brut Initiale - France, Champagne
    Disgorged 2003. A deep golden color, much darker than the other disgorgements, caramel, creme brulee, deep complex nose; complex, more yeasty than the 2012 disgorgement but fine bubbles, very nice finish. Retains much acid even as it gains the richness of age. This definitely comes across as fully mature and the elder of the bunch, despite the fact that it is 2 years younger than the oldest disgorgement. 95 (95 pts.)
  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Tradition - France, Champagne
    Disgorged 2001, this is the same cuvee that eventually became the initiale. Light yellow-gold; nose is a bit funky, caramel, intense at first bit then fades just a tad, more restrained than the others in this flight; palate retains the tartness of the 2012 disgorgement but with mature character; longer finish than the 2003 disgorgement. A very slight bitterness on the palate prevents it from being the winner of the flight. It’s interesting to note that this may be the oldest, but it falls in the middle in terms of its maturity due to its base year (1995). Stellar! (94 pts.)

The Lieux-Dits (Blanc de Noirs)
This was an incredible flight. All the Lieux-Dits are single vineyard wines that are in the early stages of being established as a solera (multiple vintages blended together in perpetuity). La Cote Faron is from Ay, Le Bout du Clos is from Ambonnay, and Sous Le Mont is from Mareuil-Sur-Ay. Each one was unique, fantastically balanced, and overall a superb champ-agne. Le Bout du clos was more about power and was very forward, the sous le mont had an herbal quality to it that was very intriguing, and la cote faron was a great blend of power and elegance. The clear standout here for me was Sous Le Mont, though I may have been one of the few who shared that opinion. I thought it was near perfect.

This course was paired with sea scallops, root vegetables, and roast shellfish broth.

  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Noirs La Côte Faron - France, Champagne, Aÿ, Champagne
    Single vineyard blanc de noirs based on 03, 04, and 05 (solera style). Yellow-gold; nose of fresh brioche, more metallic, minerally; palate is superb, medium bodied, great balance. This is the best of both worlds in this flight and is quite elegant. 96-98 (97 pts.)
  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Noirs Le Bout du Clos - France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne
    Single vineyard blanc de noirs based on 04 and 05 (solera style). Power is the key word here (20% chard, 80% pinot). Similar on nose (fresh brioche), apple, cream; palate is very rich, full bodied, clean, complex. This is a superbly made wine in a dense powerful style. 95-97 (95 pts.)
  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut Sous le Mont - France, Champagne, Ambonnay, Champagne
    Single vineyard blanc de noirs based on 05 (solera style). Nose of anise, very aromatic, spices, mint, lychee, mind blowingly complex herbal nose; palate is fresh, clean, minerally, slightly bitter in a way that gives it a lot of complexity; finish is long. This is stunning, near perfect (nose is perfect) and completely different in character than any other Selosse or any other champ-agne tasted. Easily the best champ-agne that I have ever tried and a very unique wine. 98-100 (99 pts.)

The Lieux-Dits (Blanc de Blancs)
These were the blanc de blancs single vineyard solera-styled wines. In general, they were also excellent, but in a completely different way than the blanc de noirs. The blanc de noirs all seemed to have a more unique character that I hadn’t seen in other producer’s wines, whereas the blanc de blancs were similar to other champ-agnes that I’ve tried in style, though so much more refined and balanced. Le chemin de chalons (Cramant) was the stepchild in this flight… still excellent, but not at the same level of any of the other lieux-dits. The Les Chantereines (Avize) and Les Carelles (Le Mesnil) showed almost crazy amounts of acidity and clearly need some time in bottle to settle down. These two were superb.

This course was paired with Japanese Tai snapper, mussel butter, and foraged mushrooms.

  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut Chemin de Châlons - France, Champagne, Cramant, Champagne
    Single vineyard blanc de blancs based on 05 (will eventually be solera style). Fresh, round, apple, more fruity; great balance of richness and tartness; medium-long finish. This just didn’t have the acid of the other two wines in the flight. 93++ (93 pts.)
  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra-Brut Les Chantereines - France, Champagne, Avize, Champagne
    Single vineyard chardonnay-based, from the 2005 vintage. More minerally, chalky, great depth; biting sharp acidity like a cutting blade, very fresh, slight mintiness. Fabulous and will be a real stunning. 96-98 (98 pts.)
  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Blancs Les Carelles - France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne
    Single vineyard blanc de blanc based on 03, 04, and 05 (solera style). Clean, rich, fresh, minerally; palate is austere, incredible (overwhelming) biting acidity, very young and needs much time. Racy, racy acidity. Wow. 96-98 (97 pts.)

Substance + 1999 Vintage
This flight consisted of two disgorgements of Substance (2011 and 2001) as well as the 1999 Vintage en magnum. These were all excellent wines, but after the last few flights it didn’t hold up as well. They were well balanced and interesting (and I would certainly drink them anytime), but they had somewhat less character than Selosse’s other wines. Of note, the 1999 Vintage wine had a huge amount of acidity, even more than the Le Mesnil in the flight before it, and likely needs a lot of time. That was probably my favorite in this flight. As far as Substance, given the price and quality I would probably choose Initiale every time if I was paying.

This course was paired with Wolfe Ranch quail, black truffle braised cabbage, and cavatelli.

  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Substance - France, Champagne, Avize, Champagne
    2011 disgorgement, Solera style. Medium-golden color; huge acidity, fresh, very young. This did not have as much oxidation as I expected. It is excellently made and very enjoyable, but I think I would probably choose the initiale as my foray into Selosse. 92 (92 pts.)
  • NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Substance - France, Champagne, Avize, Champagne
    2001 Disgorgement, solera style. Medium-golden color; fuller body than the recent 2011 disgorgement, rich, buttery, still a huge amount of acidity. Very young still. 93 (93 pts.)
  • 1999 Jacques Selosse Champagne Millésimé - France, Champagne
    From magnum. Very young tasting with huge acidity on the palate (on par or even more than the recent disgorgement of the Le Mesnil (Les Carelles) in the previous flight. Good fruit, again with apple as I found in the initiale. Excellent. 93+ (93 pts.)

This was a fabulous event, and I’m very glad I attended despite the cost. The best flight for me by far was the blanc de noirs single vineyards, though the Initiale flight was superb as well and would be my choice for what to buy given their relative costs. My only previous experience with Selosse (a bottle of the Initiale) was stunning, and this dinner confirmed that despite my relative lack of experience with Selosse, I can confidently claim that it is the top champ-agne producer that I have tasted to date (and now is my highest rated champ-agne to date with the Sous Le Mont). The pairings were also superb, and the food was delicious. Many thanks to Rare Wine Company for putting on such an event!
Posted from CellarTracker

Awesome dinner. I really want to go to one of these. Cost adjusted I really like the Initiale. The Substance I feel needs lots of air.

Awesome line up. Initiale is still the best in pricing terms and availability.

Not much seen freely in Australia but last year in Italy it was seen available in most bottle shops.

Ashish- Very jealous. I came very close to going to this dinner but had a schedule conflict. Glad you got to attend. I’ve been floored by his wines and have a couple of bottles of the lieux-dits still hiding in the cellar. Hopefully, this dinner was in celebration of recent successes…

Cheers!
K

WOW great report! last Selosse I enjoyed was the Cuvée Exquise!

Great notes. Hoping to attend this in Chicago.

Nice notes Ashish sounds like an awesome tasting.

Interesting, if they cost that much maybe I should put one on in London. Though I don’t have any 96 Huet… :wink:

Looks like Ashish is in training for a move to the LA/OC area!