Champagne’s oldest wine producer Gosset, launches Celebris Extra Brut 2004, its third ‘low dosage’ prestige cuvée, with the help of top sommelier Xavier Rousset MS, who adds some serving tips. To show off the ageing potential of Celebris, Gosset also opened up some 1988, 1990, 1995, 1998 and 2002 in an extraordinary wine flight.
Gosset opens up about its low dosage, late disgorgement philosophy in relation to its prestige cuvée Celebris extra brut.
Champagne Gosset launched their prestige cuvée Celebris 2004 extra brut in London on Wednesday, 5th October and took this opportunity to present an entire vertical of this bottling – showing Celebris 1988, 1990, 1995, 1998, 2002 and the new wine 2004. Odilon de Varine, chef de cave, and Xavier Rousset MS presented the wines.
De Varine emphasised that “we are still a tiny house with an annual production of around 1 million bottles. We do not intend to grow.” Of Celebris 2004 just 20,029 bottles were made.
Before the tasting de Varine outlined the two central points in Gosset’s house philosophy – none of the Gosset wines ever undergo malolactic fermentation and always spend a very long time on lees. Both are intrinsic to the style and were amply evident in the wines.
“Malic acid is the backbone of all our cuvées, especially Celebris,” de Varine explained. “Time spent on lees is very, very important. It is the most important thing you have in Champagne, even more so than vintage. For me, the main word is wine, even if you take the bubbles away. The bubbles are just there to prevent oxidation. The aim is wine: we do not drink this standing up as a cocktail. You need to take your time over this.”
Despite no wood being used at all at Gosset, all the wines shared an astonishing creaminess and a lively, tell-tale fillip of apple freshness in the finish. All the bottles were disgorged when they were released for sale.
De Varine was at pains to point out the lower dosage was entirely down to longer lees ageing, not to global warming. He emphasised that the 1998 Celebris had also been disgorged earlier with a dosage of around 10g. This later disgorgement – after 12 years in fact – merely required a dosage of 3.5g/l.
“All our decisions are based on blind tasting,” he said.
Celebris 2004 Extra Brut: 55% Chardonnay 45% Pinot Noir, dosage 4.5g/l, disgorged June 2016: Pale straw colour. Taut and fresh. As it opens up, notes of oatmeal-apple-crumble begin to show, with increasing temperature the very fine mousse becomes even creamier. Seems much younger than a 12-year-old wine and will evolve beautifully.
Celebris 2002 Extra Brut: 52% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir, dosage 5g/l, disgorged December 2014: Pale golden colour. At first this is a little flinty and smoky with a faint hint of beeswax, before opening into ripe, yellow apple and single cream. This is compact and concentrated, totally cohesive and creamy, with tingling spice and great length. One of the stars of the show.
Celebris 1998 Extra Brut: 64% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir, dosage 3.5g/l’ disgorged October 2011: Pale golden colour. Due to the lower dosage, we see a different side of the style: this is distinctly more salty, much more chalk shines through and has a savoury rather than fruity aspect. The mouthfeel is wonderfully creamy. A great and very fresh, zingy wine.
Celebris 1995 Brut: 55% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, dosage 11g/l, disgorged October 2005: Golden colour. An incredibly fragrant nose: citrus freshness and creamy apple notes abound on the nose. The palate presents a gloriously compact and profound core. A faultline of completely youthful acidity is cushioned on slender but soft apple fruit. The finish echoes long. This wine showed itself perfectly. A triumph.
Celebris 1990 Brut: 46% Chardonnay, 54% Pinot Noir, dosage 10g/l, disgorged January 1999: de Varine pointed out that this wine was “the exception that proves the rule” in so far that it had more Pinot than Chardonnay. Deep golden colour. Rather closed nose with faint notes of honey. The palate was more sprightly and defined by a moreish saltiness.
Celebris 1988 Brut: 63% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir, dosage 9g/l, disgorged June 1996: Deep golden colour. The nose has hints of champignons and the palate is more reminiscent of a wine than of an aged Champagne, honeyed edges appear and linger long.
On serving Celebris: Xavier Rousset MS commented on the gastronomic character of all of these wines and spoke of how successful mature prestige cuvées can be when served by the glass. While diners would be sceptical to buy a bottle – mature Champagne is still a novelty for many – they are “usually hooked with the first sip.”
De Varine went as far as suggesting that Celebris might even be decanted to show the ‘vinous’ side of the wine – but the consensus was on using proper tulip-shaped glasses rather than Champagne flutes.
For Rousset, Gosset unites two things: “High quality and being niche. You do not see this everywhere.”
If you want to offer something special and non-ubiquitous, you know what to stock. Champagne Gosset is distributed by Louis Latour Agencies. Celebris 2004 comes with an RRP of approximately £110.
Champagne Gosset also produces vintage Champagnes besides this vintage-dated prestige cuvée Celebris. The difference, according to de Varine, is that a vintage “is a photograph of a year, it has to differ from year to year whereas Celebris is a photograph of a year in which we have everything of Gosset that we want in Celebris.” What he wants is: “Finesse, elegance, roundness, proportion, complexity, ageing potential or rather ‘wine’ potential.”