- Blend80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay
- WinemakerDidier and Thierry Vesselle
- Farming MethodCertified Sustainable
Champagne Maurice Vesselle Cuvée Réservée Extra Brut Grand Cru NV
The Vesselle name is synonymous with quality in Bouzy – and while these folks aren’t quite as well known as their kin, Jean Vesselle, the wines are every bit as good! This pinot-dominant, Extra Brut cuvee, from the family holdings in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy, is fantastic. At just over $40 – for a bubbly of this pedigree? This is a value you’d be hard-pressed to match – not just by any other Vesselle, but all of Champagne!
Back in 1955, Maurice Vesselle, the fourth generation in a large family of winemakers in Bouzy, first branched out on his own and put his name on a Champagne label. Now, decades later, the Maurice Vesselle house rests in the capable hands of his two sons, Didier and Thierry. Didier and Thierry are proudly known as the “Vesselles who plough”. And plough they do – often, and deeply. “We have never ceased to earth [dig] up the vines in winter and earth [dig] down in spring, plowing deeply to force the vine to put down deep and lasting roots. Maintaining the vineyard in this traditional manner is ecologically sound; it pollutes less than herbicides and helps to balance variations in humidity. Yesterday we were called old-fashioned, today we're avant-garde”, Didier explains. Think of it as a way to stress the vines – but one beyond mere neglect or torture – this is a way to educate the vines, train them and make them healthier and more robust over time.
Whether the past is the future in this case for farming world-class Champagne – there is little doubting the brothers' results. Their wines are classic Bouzy power, with depth, structure, and intensity – all without sacrificing the wine’s verve and tension. These rare and delectable bubblies are about as “iron fist in a velvet glove” as one can get in Champagne – especially at the sort of prices that are miles away from that triple-digit price tag!
The wine isn’t just born in the vineyard, however. Didier and Thierry actively block malolactic fermentation in the winery, preserving the brightness and freshness that malic acid maintains. They seek out minerality – a quality abundant in the wines of the Cote des Blancs, but somewhat more elusive in this portion of the Montagne de Reims, as powerful fruit backbones define the style of Bouzy. For this reason, they vinify plot by plot in temperature-controlled stainless steel, allowing them to highlight and preserve those lots that achieve the qualities they seek and build out their final blends from there. And finally, they show the necessary patience to allow it all to come together. This cuvee spends 5 years aging on the lees, giving the high acidity, and minerality, a chance to integrate into the powerful skeleton of Bouzy’s pinot noir dominant frame. 20% chardonnay helps in this regard, as does the slight dosage of only 4 grams per liter.
The resulting wine showcases fresh Golden Delicious apples, with grated ginger, crumbly shortbread, and plenty of cinnamon, iron ore, and clove. Further notes of poached pear, lemon meringue, hazelnuts, and smoky flint develop in the glass as the mousse softens. Warm and toasty initially in the mouth, with plenty of ripe and spicy accents, the wine persists and lengthens to finish bright, tart, and poised. Fantastic now, but with life to extend over another few years, this is something worth savoring! We’re delighted to have found another Bouzy Vesselle to wrap our arms around...and excited to see what’s next for these two charismatic brothers!
PAIRING IDEAS: Ok, this wine has me craving a trip to Chinatown. Peking duck – that crispy-skinned, succulent, and flavorful morsel – is the match here. Go all the way, with a steamy bao, a brush of hoisin sauce, and a sprinkling of scallions...and a bottle of this!