Champagne as artisanal fine wine from Jacquesson, JmSélèque & Labruyère

Jacquesson's 700-series wines set out many of the tenets of what became the grower champagne movement

A weekend article on grower Champagne published in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald over winter caused quite a stir. It presented this movement as something pretty new – and judging by the number of readers’ ears that pricked up at the thought of actual proper wine with bubbles, perhaps it was news to more people than one might have thought.

There was a little mention of a certain house in Dizy that we’re rather fond of: “Labels such as Jacquesson… may be the darlings of our finest sommeliers and hippest bartenders, yet barely one in 50 bottles sold here is a grower Champagne, compared to roughly one in five globally.” But yes, the second half of that sentence seems to be goading us into drinking more of this wonderful stuff.

So here’s a reminder: We at CellarHand are very proud to import Champagne from three wonderful growers. From Pierry, we have the Jean-Marc and Oriane Sélèque of JmSélèque; from Verzenay we have the Labruyère family of Champagne Labruyère; and of course we have the original and best, brothers Jean-Hervé and Laurent Chiquet of Jacquesson.

It’s great to see the growers pushed into the limelight like this, of course, and we really hope you’ll be encouraged to dig into them to see what all the fuss is about.

NV Jacquesson Cuvée No. 742 Extra Brut $125

The Extra-Brut Cuvée No. 742, based on the 2014 vintage, is a gorgeous wine. In this release, the Cuvée seems especially marked by Pinot in both its flavor profile and texture. Dried pear, hazelnut, mint, chamomile and dried flowers all grace this rich, beautifully resonant Champagne from Jacquesson. Best of all, the 742 will drink well with minimal cellaring. The 700-series Champagnes are often superb; the 742 is an especially fine edition. The blend is 59% Pinot Noir (from Aÿ, Dizy and Hautvillers) and 41% Chardonnay (from Avize and Oiry). Dosage is 1.5 grams per litre.

94 points. Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media July 2019

NV JmSélèque Solessence $103

Slightly reductive and appley at first, this opens with chamomile, praline and grilled almonds. Medium-bodied and very tangy, this is a steely and compact Champagne with integrated bubbles. Drink now.

92 points. Nick Stock, September 2019

NV JmSélèque Solessence Rosé $108

A very striking rosé with strawberry-cream and watermelon aromas, in a super fresh mode. The palate has a very deep and vinous texture with fresh wild strawberries and raspberries, delivered in a zesty and appealing style that really holds impressive depth and detail. Beautiful, berry-biscuit finish. This is made using the Solessence base blend, to which is added 10% pinot-meunier juice after two days of maceration and 5% red pinot noir. Drink or hold. 94 points.

Nick Stock, September 2019

NV JmSélèque Quintette $116

100% Chardonnay based on the 2014 harvest, with fruit from Vertus 1er Cru La Justice planted in 1950; Dizy 1er Cru Moque-bouteille planted in 1985; Epernay Les Frileux planted in 1959; Mardeuil Les Basses Ronces planted in 1982; and Pierry 1er Cru Les Tartières/Les Porgeons planted in 1990 and 1985. The soils are silty clay and flint clay with chalky subsoil. Vinified 50% in oak barrels with no malolactic conversion and 50% stainless steel tank with MLF. No fining or filtration. At least 36 months tirage ageing. Dosage 2g/L. – Jean-Marc Sélèque

100% pure Chardonnay sourced from 5 villages around Champagne, the Quintette is quintessentially refined. Honeycomb, apple blossom, gunsmoke, toastiness, kumquat zest and raw sourdough on the nose and a combination of rich flavours and zippy acidity on the palate.
Ripe apples and peaches, juicy lemons, baked white bread, toasted almonds, grilled pine nuts, vanilla, with clean and fresh acidity that balances the fullness beautifully. The wine was initially vinified in 50% oak and 50% stainless steel and has had no fining or filtration before secondary fermentation which shows in that nervy tension found in the glass.
With only 5040 bottles produced, this is one to tuck away in the cellar and open a bottle every now and then to really appreciate the slow, long development that this has ahead of it.

95 points. Curly Haslam-Coates, The Wine Front

NV Champagne Labruyère Prologue $109

70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from Verzenay, Grand Cru. Based on the 2013 harvest, with 10% reserve wines from 2012. Tirage 2014 and aged on the lees for a period two times greater than appellation requirements. Disgorgement: 2018-2019 (see back label). Dosage: 1.6g/L. The wine offers intriguing complexity, with aromas of dried fruits, enhanced by subtle toasty aromas and roasted hazelnut. Rich and harmonious on the palate.

Beautiful structure of Pinot Noir is exquisitely intertwined with tension and energy of Chardonnay. Delicate and persistent on the finish. – Nadine Gublin, Champagne Labruyère

A new kid on the block, from Grand Cru vineyards in Verzenay, the base wine of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay , on tirage 2/4/14, disgorged 17/5/19. Lives up to expectations with a spicy brioche bouquet, the palate elegant and well balanced, with a particularly long finish and fresh aftertaste thanks to its micro dosage. 95 points. 

James Halliday’s Top 100, The Australian

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