In what should become a series of “double-aged” cuvées, Champagne Gosset has re-released its 1995 Celebris more than a decade after disgorgement, under the name Celebris 1995 Les Célébrissimes.
The wine is aged for ten years on lees, including four years sur pointe – the bottle rests neck-downwards, allowing minimal contact with lees. The most interesting period comes after disgorgement, when the wine ages 13 years in bottle off the lees.
This is a style distinct from the “late-disgorged” styles of Bollinger’s RD or Dom Pérignon’s Plénitude series, in which the wine is released only months after disgorgement.
It’s quite usual for Gosset to age the wine off the lees, export director Bertrand Verduzier told Club Oenologique. “We always do another few years off the lees after disgorgement, but what is unusual is to do it for so long.”
The goal, Verduzier said, is to stop the ageing on the lees at exactly the right moment. The dead yeast cells have a reductive property – they protect the wine from oxidation – and they also bring certain flavours to the wine. The process of autolysis, the destruction of the dead cells – contributes to texture and mouthfeel as well as affecting the size of the bubbles.
“Taking the wine off the lees allows it to breathe a bit. It reveals the ripe fruit aromas, and the bubbles are fewer and smaller because they become more integrated into the wine.”
In short, this method of double-ageing is intended to reveal the “wine” side of the Champagne – “the character of the vintage remains,” Verduzier says.
Gavin Smith, head of fine wine at Fine+Rare (part of the same group of companies as Club Oenologique) agrees. “Despite being nearly 25 years old, the Champagne retains a remarkably primary fruity aroma on opening,” he says on F+R’s blog. “Full of orchard fruits, mandarin, pink grapefruit alongside more developed lemon marmalade and sultana fruit.”
Smith considers the wine “exceptional” and goes so far as to suggest it is “on a par with some of the finest examples of aged Vintage Champagne you are ever likely to taste.”
There have been seven cuvées of Celebris since the 1990, the latest being 2007, launched in 2018. The 1995 was first released in 2002 just after disgorgement; 1000 bottles were held back to go through the double-ageing process.
Celebris is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Grand Cru vineyards in Bouzy, Verzenay, Aÿ and Ambonnay, Cramant, Avize, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Oger.
There are likely to be further releases, Verduzier said. “Hopefully we will make more in this style. There’s no rush.” He suggested 1996 – hailed as one of Champagne’s great vintages – could be next. “And the 1990 maybe. But we don’t know when. Taste decides.”