Thu 3 Jan 2008
Established in 1584, the house of Gosset is the oldest wine producer in Champagne. In those days, however, the wine wasn’t the sparkling product that we know and love today; that process didn’t begin until the late 17th Century, and for 125 years or so the practice of producing a sparkling wine by a second fermentation in the bottle was an inexact and accident-prone science. In any case, the Gosset family was certainly there at the creation of the champagne wine industry.
In 1994, after 410 years of ownership by the same family, Gosset was purchased by the Remy-Cointreau company and Beatrice Cointreau was put in charge, wisely keeping to the same regime of grapes purchased primarily from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards, barrel fermentation and no malolactic, so the Gosset champagnes retain more than usual vivacity.
Most commentators describe the non-vintage Gosset Brut Excellence as “simple” and insist that the rest of the house’s line-up is something like light-years better, but I found the G.B.E to be not only charming and delightful but edging over into the realm of the truly characterful. The blend of grapes is 45% pinot nor, 42% chardonnay — these chosen from Grand Cru, Premier Cru and other vineyards — and 13% pinot meunier. The color is medium gold; a fountain of tiny bubbles surges upward in a constant stream. The bouquet offers fresh baked biscuits and toast, spiced and roasted lemon and lemon curd and an intriguing touch of candied grapefruit. In the mouth, this champagne is crisp and lively but also not merely minerally with limestone and chalk but earthy and so dense that the texture is almost viscous; you feel an uncommon sense of presence. The finish is long, packed with limestone and spice, and notably austere. This gets an Excellent rating from me. Suggested retail price is about $46, but I have seen the Gosset Brut Excellent discounted on the Internet to $25.
Palm Bay Imports, Boca Raton, Florida.
By the way, the company’s website (here) recommends that the Gosset Brut Excellence would be appropriate for “late morning cocktails,” to which I say, “Right on!” How much better life and work would be if we could take a champagne break at late morning. In fact, the world would probably be a far better place if everybody would drink a glass of champagne at 11:30 a.m.
Tomorrow is the Eleventh Day of Christmas… check back.