Today marks Justerini & Brooks’ much-anticipated launch of the 2009 vintage of Philipponnat’s flagship champagne Clos des Goisses. The cuvée comes from Philipponnat’s beautiful, walled 5.5-hectare vineyard above the historic 18th-century cellars of Château de Mareuil. Thanks to its chalky sub-soils, the roots of the vine penetrate deep into the chalk, while the leaves of the south-facing vines act as thousands of tiny solar panels to absorb the light, warmth and energy of the sun. Curiously, the reflection of the vineyard in the River Marne looks like a bottle lying on its side.
While Clos des Goisses is a single, walled vineyard, the fact that the wine is blended from 14 separate plots within the enclosure allows Philipponnat the flexibility to select and blend Pinot Noir grapes for opulence and power and Chardonnay for an incisive stab of mineral freshness. Roughly a third of the wine is fermented in oak casks and the rest in stainless steel. The wine remains in bottle for eight years in the house’s deep subterranean chalk cellars and an addition of only four grams per litre of sugar is carried out to ensure balance and complexity.
The pale-straw colour of the 2009 Extra Brut vintage betrays the champagne’s Pinot Noir base, but the apple and pear aromas are remarkably fresh with an energetic, persistent bead of bubbles that explodes on the tongue in a powerfully expansive mousse. A blend of nearly two-thirds Pinot Noir and just over a third Chardonnay assures a vinous fullness of texture and flavour, etched with tongue-enveloping citrusy acidity, leading to a seamlessly elegant, satisfyingly bone-dry finish – all of which makes it perfect as an aperitif but excellent with delicate shellfish, too. The 2008 vintage was released at £600 for a case of six bottles in bond (before duty and VAT); the 2009 is expected to be “a little more expensive, but not by all that much,” according to Justerini & Brooks’ Julian Campbell.