Dosage Trials Chez Selosse

One of the things I love most about wine is the opportunity to constantly learn. It is what keeps me energized and focused. My tasting last week at Selosse is a perfect example. 

I had tasted dosage trials at Selosse before, but only for one wine. This tasting covered the six Selosse lieux-dits, plus the new 2003 Vintage, each with six different level of dosage, for a total of 42 bottles. Not a bad way to spend a Monday morning….

Dosage continues to be one of the hot topics in Champagne. High or low, which is best? Personally, I have no view. I am looking for wines that are in balance, and that can be achieved in a multitude of ways. A bottle of Taittinger’s 1989 Comtes de Champagne, dosed at 12-13 grams per liter, was stunning last week. At the same time, I adore the best grower Champagnes, many of which are made with far lower levels of dosage. 

The idea of balance is once again the central theme of this tasting, as most of the wines show best somewhere in the middle of the six dosage levels. Not too low, not too high. The six dosage levels as expressed in grams per liter are, approximately:

0.0 g/l
0.7 g/l
1.3 g/l
2.0 g/l
2.7 g/l
3.3 g/l

Each of the wines changes dramatically with the different dosage levels, but what is amazing is that we are still very much playing within the low end of dosage for Champagne.

The Avize – Les Chantereines seems to hit its stride between 0.7 and 1.3 g/l, which is where the flavors are most clearly defined. Beyond that, the wine is heavy. I prefer the Cramant – Chemin des Chalons at 1.3 or 2.0 g/l. The Mesnil – Les Carelles is fascinating because  it is dazzling throughout the entire range. With each different level of dosage the wine reveals different shades of expression, but it is always striking and hauntingly beautiful. My impression is the Carelles is going to be a fantastic Champagne! The 2003 Vintage is another wine that needs to be dialed in. It is gorgeous at all levels until it gets to 2.7 g/l, which is where the wine becomes a bit unfocused.

Then we move to the Pinots. The Mareuil-sur-Aÿ – Sous Le Mont is up first. This is the only lieu-dit I was not thrilled with last year, probably because that version had no dosage. Tasting the six versions this year, it is clear the Mareuil is dry and astringent at 0 g/l. The wine explodes, though, as dosage is added, and at 3.3 g/l it is superb. The Aÿ – La Côte Faron, is in its sweet spot – pardon the pun – between 1.3 and 2.0 g/l. The Ambonnay – Le Bout du Clos, which includes 20% Chardonnay, is another wine that is solid throughout, but that really seems to hit its stride between 1.3 and 2.7 g/l. It is shaping up to be a stunner.

--Antonio Galloni