by Paige Donner
There are two new exciting developments at Gosset Champagne. The first is its “new” cellars and the second is its brand new eco-friendly bottle labels.
Gosset Champagne Epernay Cellars
For the “oldest wine house” (est. 1584) in Champagne to expand much of their operations to Epernay from Aÿ, is no small feat. It’s also not as if there are exquisite champagne cellars up for sale every day in Epernay. Most of the cellars in this quaint little Capitale du Champagne have been inhabited for centuries and mostly by the really big boys, you know the ones, the household name champagnes.
So in 2009, when the Group Laurent Perrier put these cellars up for sale, the team from Gosset Champagne, including their cellar master Jean-Pierre Mareigner and the President of the house, Jean-Pierre Cointreau, took one look at these exquisite 60-foot deep cellars carved out of pure chalk and said, Oui. Oui! Oui! Oui!
Purchased in the 425th year of the house’s existence in Champagne, they are located just off of the Avenue de Champagne and just behind Pol Roger. The grounds also include a National Heritage Classified 2 hectare park with ornate wrought-iron gate and 19th century buildings, dating back to 1850.
On a guided walk through the 1.5 kilometers of cellars 60 feet underground, surrounded by cool, damp chalky soils, you can just feel how happy the more than 1.2 million bottles of aging champagne grapes are nestled back in the womb of their natural habitat. On one of the walls, there is even an engraving from a former G.I., one of the WWII liberators, who carved his name along with his home state – Connecticut. The date? 1944.
The buildings can also house 26,000 hectoliters of vinifying vin clair or still champagne wine. With this allowance of space, many of the growers from whom Gosset purchases their Grands Crus and premiers Crus (only) grapes have dedicated vinification tanks. Some even as small as 20 hectoliters. For their growers, many of whom they’ve worked with for decades and some for centuries, whose grapes are harvested from the 60 best-rated villages in Champagne, this is a source of pride. It also gives Mareigner luxurious precision for his assemblages. In a second tank room are multiple 1,000 hectoliter tanks filled just with reserve wine.
The distinction of being the oldest wine house in Champagne is that Gosset was producing the favored red wines back when Fracois I and Henry IV spent much of their time in Aÿ (1584 and thereabouts). The Salamander emblem on their Aÿ cellar walls is testament to the Francois I connection.
These exquisite Pinot Noir red wines are still used today for Gosset’s signature Grand Reserve Rosé, whose hints of wild strawberries and red fruits balance out its non-malo freshness. Wonderful accompaniment with poached lobster, red mullet, Asian sweet pork. And, of course, as an aperitif.
Gosset Champagne bottles are instantly recognizable. They haven’t changed since the house first started bottling their champagnes in the 1800s. The heavy, hand-blown bottles were able to withstand the pressure of the bubbles which can be as much as 6 atmospheres. The house has kept the bottle design and their trademarked jewel neck label, but innovated significantly in terms of sustainability.
The materials used for the modified powdery gold cap now comply with European environmental directives and American standards. This Antique range by Gosset Champagne labeling has received acknowledgment for their innovative as well as eco-friendly design, including “Imprim’Vert” label.
In addition, their gift boxes are now FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. And the Gosset Champagne new Ecological “Green Line” caps are made with a glue-free complex – aluminum-polyethylene-aluminum – and biodegradable acrylic inks. The acrylic inks are water-based so completely naturally solvent and rather than using glue to afix the label onto the bottle, polyethylene is melted between the layers of aluminum.
Tradition, innovation and, of course, fabulous champagnes: Gosset.