Established in 1584, Gosset is the oldest wine house of Champagne, although not the oldest in producing sparkling champagne. Based in its elegant estate in Epernay, it is among the most prestigious Champagne houses, and one of my favorites, with its beautiful wines presented in equally beautiful and distinctive bottles. Also, they are the best proof that you can produce great champagne–in large volumes–without owning vineyards, thanks to careful selection in the grape supplies and very attentive and skilled winemaking.
Pierre Gosset (1555-1633), mayor or Aÿ–a village already renowned for its wines at that time–inherited vineyards from his uncle, Jean Gosset, Lord of Aÿ. He formalized its vine grower and wine maker status in 1584 by establishing its eponymous business. He produced still wines that were sold in Paris and Brussels.
In the 18th century, Gosset turned to the production of sparkling champagne that had gained great popularity by then. The house remained in the hands of the Gossets, generation after generation, until 1993 when they sold to the Renaud-Cointreau family.
Under the new ownership, the annual production expanded from 400,000 to 1 million bottles per year. This needed more cellar space and, in 2009, under the leadership of President Jean-Pierre Cointreau, Gosset bought larger facilities in Épernay including the house where they moved from Aÿ (where they kept part of their production). Today, all Gosset wines are sparkling and the house stays firmly among the most prestigious of Champagne.
Vineyard and Production
The house has virtually no vineyards and relies on long and short-term contracts with vine growers. They focus on the use of grands and premiers crus in the Marne district, with a 95% average classification, to produce a little more than 1 million bottles every year. They use only the first pressing with a few exceptions, and ferment them in stainless steel vats where they do not undergo malolactic fermentation for the most part. This is complemented by a bottle aging on the lees quite longer than the average in Champagne.
Gosset motto says it all: “We first make wine, the bubbles sublimate it.” They are so committed to producing high-quality champagne that they have spelled out their philosophy in a charter of excellence. It is based on the generous use of pinot noirs from some of its best terroirs (including Aÿ), the avoidance of malolactic fermentations, and adequate aging. The result is medium to full-bodied champagnes that still retain the freshness and liveliness of the fruit for great complexity and elegance, and very fine bubbles.
The portfolio of champagnes includes three ranges: Antique (non-vintages), Héritage (vintages, and an extra dry) and Celebris (extra brut vintages). Their non-vintage Grande Réserve, Grand Rosé, and limited-edition Grand Blanc de Noirs are, for me, among the best in their respective category. The limited-edition 15 Ans de Cave a Minima best incarnates my idea of champagne: multi-vintage, with long aging and reduced dosage (7 g/l), for great complexity with elegance. Tasting it was also a great comparative exercise, when Chef de Cave Odilon de Varine served it straight from the bottle, and after decanting it in a carafe. The result was shocking; not the same wine, although both were great.