Champagne PHILIPPONNAT, Mareuil-sur-Ay
“The late Colin Fenton MW, who was perhaps the world’s greatest admirer of
Champagne Salon, stated that anyone who could not understand or like Salon
would not appreciate Clos des Goisses, and vice versa … both have a singular
intensity which sets them apart from all other Champagnes.” Tom Stevenson
The story begins in 1522, when April le Philipponnat was registered as owner of an estate in Ay.
In 1910, Auguste and Pierre Philipponnat settle in Mareuil sur Aÿ and start using the old wine cellars (18th Century) of the castle and give their House its modern commercial momentum despite the onset of the First World War and a widespread phylloxera crisis.
In 1935, Pierre Philipponnat acquires the Clos des Goisses, a unique south-facing, 5 ½ hectare-vineyard on the flank of the Gruguet hill. Breaking with the tradition of blending in Champagne, he creates a remarkable single-vineyard wine.
Today, Philipponnat is one of the main owners of grand and premier cru vineyards, with its 17-hectare vineyard holding comprising mainly Pinot Noir grapes. The vines are located in the villages of Mareuil, Avenay, Mutigny and Ay and each have traditional and symbolic names: Les Remissones, La Bauve, Buisson Saint Loup, Cuivron, etc.
The Philipponnat style is for intensity, with the predominance of Pinot Noir in the blends and the tradition of picking slightly later than most; and freshness, thanks to the use of a minimum of 30% of Chardonnay, only the first pressing makes it in the cuvées, and a very moderate dosage, which protects the aromatic freshness and the natural minerality of the base wines.
Clos des Goisses (70% de Pinot Noir 30% Chardonnay) originates from just 5.5 hectares of walled, very steep, pure chalk slope facing south above the river Marne in Mareuil-sur-Ay on the southern flank of the Montagne de Reims. The temperature here is generally 1.5 deg C higher than in the surrounding area, and the vines, low-yielding on these shallow soils, usually ripen a full week ahead of neighbouring vines.
The grape blend is about two-thirds Pinot Noir to one third Chardonnay. Up to thirty per cent of the wine is made in old oak barrels and malolactic fermentation is deliberately suppressed – which helps to explain why such a relatively old wine tastes so fresh. It also tastes extremely dense and interesting, with clear terroir-driven mineral character and a certain creaminess as well. The intense 1999 unveils a nose of firm pears amidst a background of toasty aromas (almost cocoa bean) whilst concentrated citrus forms the backbone for other flavours of toast, biscuit, pear, and yellow apple to bloom from the glass.