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Champagne Moussé Fils

Tasting Year


I feel like I’ve known Cédric Moussé since he was a kid, though of course I don’t. When we first started doing business it was clear he had huge potential, and would need time to find his way. Some of the first wines he sent over ran counter to the Zeitgeist – not severely dry enough for the hipsters of that era – but it was always, always clear to me that this was Meunier of another type entirely. Having lost out on what turned out to be outstanding agencies by meeting them too soon, when the wines weren’t as stellar as they’d later become, I was determined to avoid that mistake with Moussé.


And so it’s deeply gratifying to observe that Cédric is no longer a “young grower” who’ll go on to do great things. He’s lifted off the runway; he is in flight. Of course he will continue to improve, as his is a restless nature, but I find he takes his place in an elite society of growers doing singular and remarkable work. He’s at the forefront of the revolution in Meunier in which an entire new generation is taking the variety seriously and exploring the limits of its possibility. There are any number of Heroes-Of-Meunier in the Marne Valley (and elsewhere), but where Moussé establishes his special eminence has partly to do with terroir (soil and landscape), partly to do with having had a father who loved and respected the variety, and partly with the imponderable, with the irreducible vision common to visionaries.

There’s no reason, it turns out, why Meunier has to be broad and earthy, no reason it can’t show minerality, no reason it can’t attain great elegance, and no reason it can’t enact a firm brightness we expect from Chardonnay but not from Meunier. And so I bow to my friend, for what he is achieving, even while I would challenge some of his particular choices. That said, the greater context is the entire achievement, irrespective of such cavils as I may have with this wine or that. 

Note; these are tasted in ascending order of “sweetness” though all of them are verydry. Thus some of the “top” wines may appear early on.


Moussé Fils Les Vignes de Mon Village, Brut NV  (Blanc de Meunier)

A tribute to Cédric’s father, who left us much too soon, and who was a staunch believer in both Meunier and Cuisles itself. Disg. 7/12/21, from a perpetual blend of 2014-2019.


The wine is entirely Cuisles and entirely Meunier. If you’ve forgotten (shame on you!), Champagne brokers (and other insiders) consider this village to be the Grand Cru for Meunier. So….

The fragrance is papery, crusty and ever so slightly aldehydic, but the palate works improbably well, for a zero-dosage wine. Only on the finish is there an asperity (which could be a disgorgement issue rather than an RS one, and in any case even zero-dosage Champagnes have a smidge of sweetness as a residue of tirage), but the actual palate is interestingly fluffy.

There’s a toastiness common to many of the new-wave Marne Valley Meuniers, and it’s likable, but it’s also not distinctly Cuisles, at least that I can taste. Not to flog the dosage issue, but I feel that a higher dosage would have made this wine moreindividual, assuming that was Cédric’s desire.

The first finish is the best part; suave and savory and brown-buttery. I have usually respected this wine more than I liked it, but I’ve also never had the chance to follow a bottle over many days. So let’s see if this fellow finds a vein of kindness in his otherwise stern nature. There is cause for hope.



Okay, now it’s five days later, and we drank twice from the bottle with food, and what can we learn? We have more spice now; cardamom, baies rose, harissa, and an iris aroma I wouldn’t have been shocked to sniff in an Urgestein GV. The wine is simply more generous, enough so that its paucity of dosage becomes less relevant. And yet this is all theoretical, because who will consume a bottle this way? It suggests an incipience in the wine that most drinkers will never glimpse, and I don’t think we should have to.


So we have a palimpsest of Champagne, a gnarly first impression covered over by a far more agreeable later impression (we even have a tangible note of chalk at this point), and both impressions are true, and so the wine is in fact at least two wines, and the way you drink it determines which one you get. But, these impressions may well draw closer over time, and so my final judgment is to defer final judgment until/unless I can taste the wine with three years on the cork.

Mommy, I’m confused!


Moussé Fils “Anecdote” 2017  (Les Deux Lieux-Dits)        +

Disg. 2/3/21, the one and only all-CH from this grower, though he doesn’t say “Blanc de Blancs” on his label, preferring to focus on the terroir.

This is fascinating Champagne, and one I hope Peter Liem finds a way to include in any cross-regional flight of Chardonnays – because I know of no others like this. Minerality is constantly implied but only grows explicit on the first finish. “Fruit” is so discreet it may as well not exist, yet the impact of savor makes it a fully rich mouthful. Saline, kelpy, sesame, sea-lettuce, rusks, dill-seed, legume…all adding up to nothing like the sum of those attributes.

Rather, the wine’s gestalt is more herbal and even minty if you just let it wash over you. The finish is a circus of nuance, and the wine is beautifully incoherent; its shape is the firing of details in every direction at once. It is compelling, even stirring, without ever really being beautiful. How it manages to assemble its facets into a finish of such length, depth and grip, I couldn’t explain.

I can remember earlier vintages of this wine that were more accommodating, more “pleasing.” Neither better nor worse, just different. Cédric is following his vision, as is proper, and if he told me he prefers a fascinating wine to one that is merely charming, I’d appreciate that POV. This is indeed a better wine than it used to be. It has authority and complexity, but it is also earnest and cerebral, and my reverence for those qualities reflects the qualities themselves – cool, cerebral, a little aloof.


Like many of these wines, this one alludes to “fruit” more or less constantly, without ever committing itself to being fruity. Nor need it be. We have plenty of fruit-forward Champagnes, but very few with this articulacy and individuality. Ginger and mint stand in place of apples or jasmine. As does a nuance of guava – but remember, this is five days after opening.


Moussé Fils, Terres D’Illite 2017 Blanc de Noirs                  ++

Disg 2/25/21, 95Pm, 5PN, a blend of 23 plots

The vein of Illite (read about it here: is unique to this part of Champagne, to a capillary that runs between Cuisles and Jonquery, and Moussé is the only producer I know of who cherishes it enough to feature it in a cuvée.

It is outstanding Champagne by any reckoning, often my own favorite in the range, and as best I can determine, one of a kind. Is its remarkable flavor due to the illite soil? Maybe! But an obvious inference is not available, and so we observe the correlation and wonder what it might signify.

The results, in the glass, have always shown a determined focus rare for Meunier, and allied to a resplendent deliciousness having nothing to do with dosage (for once) and everything to do with a fruit enflamed with something, whatever it might be. We go to the Special Club to see the regal majesty of Meunier, but we come here to see its expressive possibilities, as this wine is simply more many-faceted and articulate than anything I’ve tasted from the variety.


There’s a kind of venn-diagram with Meunier (as expressed here) and really good Pinot Gris, which is to say the Champagne doesn’t “read” red, as one might expect. It’s doughy, as Meunier tends to be, but it’s like spelt or even teff. But whatever it is, it’s a superb vintage of  wine that’s becoming an Icon of Champagne, a sort of ne plus ultra of Meunier.

But let us test that theory….


Five days later, and from a bottle we only broached once in the interim, there’s an oxidative note I ascribe to the vintage, along with a “sweet-earthy” note that makes me think of Chartogne’s Les Barres. The palate remains wonderfully buoyant, and this is Meunier at its most articulate and least ingratiating. Given the burgeoning number of serious Meunier wines coming out of the Marne valley, this would take a rarefied place among them in a comparative tasting. While the (upcoming) Special Club would hit the operatic notes, this one would be offstage tweaking the fine points of the libretto. And as (justly) celebrated as that Club is, I think this is Cédric’s most significant wine.


Moussé Fils Special Club 2016 Les Fortes Terres Meunier   ++

Disg 3/15/21, four parcels in one Lieu-Dit in Cuisles, and as you know, the first-ever 100% Meunier Special Club.

Trying to limn the distinction between these two Meuniers is either a fool’s errand or a path to some sort of enlightenment.

The Club has what it should have: Am immediate sense of Significance. A feeling of something regal, and a hint of divinity. Or so one hopes. We certainly find it here (along with a slight volatility? I’ll try a fresh stem.) and I am certain most tasters will see this as clearly the “better” wine. They’re not wrong. The affects of greatness here are justified by many actual elements of greatness. The wine is superb. Even the mousse is more silken (the kings and queens wear finer garments than even the landed gentry, you see).

In a way we have the alpha-to-omega for Meunier with the two wines, this one being the noblest, and the last one the most fundamental. Tasting the two will tell you most of what you need to know about this variety. (As an aside, this wine tastes less dry but is actually a little more dry; its colossal fruit stands in for RS.)

The length here is almost ridiculous. It’s the utter glory of Meunier, just as the last wine was the utter Truth of Meunier.

There is a kind of serenity a grower can attain when he is in full competence, whereby he is able to bring his vision to life. If Cédric isn’t there, he’s pounding away at the door. One sip of this magnificent wine will convince you.

It is again five days later, but this bottle was untouched in the interim. And really, the wine is ludicrously beautiful, a parfait of cinnamon and maize, a smart hedonism reaching to a vivid apex. I remember back to the 2006, when it was a novelty to show a “Meunier Club” (and also the wine was good!) But this pilot is flying the big planes now.


Moussé Fils L’Or D’Eugène Brut NV                                             +

This is the basic NV, disg 7/12/21, based on vintage 19 with its perpetual reserve going back to 2003, 80/20 PM/PN, and while the label says “Brut” it would qualify for Extra-Brut. Cédric is also candid about the RS left after tirage – the first time I have seen this on an actual label.

Always instructive to taste the smallest wine after the biggest one, right? This one, it would seem, is entirely adorable, as it happens.


Let’s say, hypothetically, that this is Cédric’s most “mainsteam” wine. In that context, what does it tell us?

It says that Meunier doesn’t need to be slack. It can show all its seductive tastiness and still be firm. It can also be more fresh and lively than it is doughy and toasty. It can be insanely delicious without needing to ingratiate – and this is an abiding riddle with Meunier. Too sweet and it’s marmalade-y, but correcting by excessive dryness makes for this dry phyllo-dough thing, which has a nice crunch but you wouldn’t make a meal out of it. The solution, as we see here, is you place the flavors an octave higher, and then you don’t need a lot of sweetness yet everything sings.

Crazy Terry Metaphor Alert: I live nine miles from the Atlantic, and when we have certain storms we get a lot of seagulls blown over here, and it’s goose-bump beautiful to see them in flight, whether against a cloudy sky or a sunny one. Okay, normal, ordinary birds, but when I see them here, inland, they look like little Gods against the skies. And this wine, this “ordinary” NV Brut, flies with a sudden, improbable grace, quite ordinary yet aloft somehow.

Metaphors aside, what’s it like? It’s like the most focused, disciplined and has-its-shit-together Blanc de Noirs you ever could taste. I know how often I say this, but when you judge a vintner by his “smallest” wine, you know that vintner in his very soul.


I’ve struggled to keep my hands off the open bottle. This is dangerously tasty stuff. And I suspect it has very few cognates in Meunier-world – at least based on what I’ve tasted.


Moussé Fils Rosé Effusion, Perpetuelle de Blanc et de Rouge

Disg 21/6/21, 92/8 PM-PN, and a blend of two perpetual reserves, 2003-2019, one being red and the other white, i.e., Blanc de Noirs.

Confused? The Champagne has the color of cranberry. I infer a 2019-base, and it is very dry at least on paper. But this has always been a bold rosé.

And this is bold, almost savage, certainly impolite – and whether you think “yes but in a good way” depends on your tolerance for funk. Mind you, no more than the average St Laurent (and if you told me SL was in this blend I’d totally believe you), and part of me admires Cédric’s refusal to compromise. This is a strong, vinous, rural wine, bloody and lashing and visceral – on first glance. The days may bring another perspective, and the wine has the stubborn length they all have shown.

We’re well within “Extra Brut” territory, and I would have argued for a higher dosage but still within that limit. “My” wine would have been more complete, richer, more melodic, yet it wouldn’t have been this snorting stubborn beastie Cédric wanted to make. Ultimately his view prevails, not for the aesthetics of the matter but because it’s more important the vision be unperturbed than that the wine pleases this person or that one.

Not to mention, I may yet come around. The last (4th) sip takes me in another direction, and after a few days I may well eat my words – and drink his wine.


But, well, I’ve had a troubled relationship with this bottle over the days. This is my second “tasting” and in short, I liked it better in  past iterations, and the reason is that the current wine is too dry to manage its powerful earthiness. It’s also an instance where a little more RS would have provided enough fruit for the animality to have been a pleasing nuance.


Moussé Fils Special Club Rosé 2017 Infusion de Meunier, Les Bouts de la Ville                                  +

Disg 5/10/2021, 3-day skin-contact saignée, 100% Meunier.

Well that is an aroma.

Cédric seems to understand what “luxury” Champagne entails, as his two Clubs seem to be citizens of a different country. Clearly he likes a forthright Rosé. There’s nothing ethereal here. But there’s something of a perfect duck breast, from a great purveyor, cooked perfectly medium-rare, seasoned properly, and served with faro cooked in the liquid from reconstituted dried porcinis. 

It’s savory, in other words. But it’s also not earthbound. There’s a floating elegance here, for all its solidity. We are in the cranberry/rhubarb/redcurrant vein of Rosé, and we are decidedly toothsome – yet not chewy – yet there’s a cardamom-like sweetness around the periphery. Someone dropped a whole clove into the stew pot by accident, and offered to fish it back out. “Nah, leave it there, it might taste good.”

To be continued.

Days hence, I’m finding this wine is best with a lot of white-space around it. In the bustle of a kitchen where dinner’s cooking, or even at the table in the whoosh of chatter, it loses the high notes and becomes a rather austere rosé. When “studied,” and allowing for its wee scrape of astringency, one can appreciate and admire it. As I do – but I’m not thinking “I must have this in my cellar,” as I have with several of its siblings. 

I can perhaps imagine the thinking behind it. Cédric’s wines today have a certain adamant willfulness. This suits the whites, more or less (!) but if he’s thinking “The rosés have so much fruit I can allow them to be solemn and dry” then I would argue the opposite – not that they should be “sweet,” but just because you don’t want them singing like Michael Bublé doesn’t mean they have to sing like Tom Waits. (And speaking of which, where’s Paul Buchanan’s new album? It’s ten years since Mid-Air…)


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Moussé Fils Les Vignes De Mon Village, Blanc de Meuniers          +                              

A perpetual reserve begun in 2014; most recent vintage 2020, deg. April 5, 2022, tirage under cork, and……zero dosage.


It has never had dosage, actually. It’s 100% Meunier from Cuisles, and is (you’ll recall) a tribute to Cédric’s father, who was a great believer in the potential of Meunier many years before that belief was trendy.


The fragrance is expressive and pure and inviting. The color is shallot-skin. The palate is sensational.


This will be the third zero-dosage I’ve been blown away with in the past few months – Gimonnet’s were the first two. You could suppose that the softer Meunier would better accommodate this regimen, but my experience has said otherwise. All the more reason to admire this remarkable wine.


The Juhlin 2.0 reveals both a mineral backdrop to the firm fruit, and also the grassy element of the ’20 vintage. The 1st edition Juhlin is less stark but also less transparent. The wine is crusty and vinous now, appealingly salty, and reminds me of those big trumpet mushrooms sautéed in ghee or duck fat. But it’s worth asking about the grassy element the smaller glass exposes. What will become of it? It’s certainly been a stubborn companion of the 2015s, and it isn’t encouraging to see it show up again. Yet again, one might complain. 


Nor is this confined to growers. The big houses, with all their know-how, have not escaped it. And let me repeat, we understand there are “small” vintages and we accept them comfortably. But these are different. 


Given the nature of the perpetual reserve, it intrudes subtly with this laudable wine. It’s a striking achievement, and the best bottling of this wine I have tasted. The “green” note could even be a pleasing nuance, as it is from the more capacious original Juhlin. (The glass, not the guy. I have no idea what his capacity may be, though I imagine it is formidable.)

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Moussé Fils “Anecdote” 2018 , Extra Brut                                    ++

The subtitle is “Les Deux Lieux-dits.” It’s 100% Chardonnay, picked September 4th2018 and disgorged Feb. 3rd 2022


Woo hoo, a fabulous fragrance. And it leads to an equally fabulous wine. I can’t imagine there are more than a small few Chardonnays outside of the Côte des Blancs this superb, this original, this revelatory.


What does it reveal? It shows a profile of Chardonnay that has little to do with overt chalk or even general minerality. What stands in for those things is acidity, an essential crispness, which makes its stunning fruit even more alluring. It is a masterpiece of fruit and lees in a dynamic interchange of contained power.


You know the cognates: jasmine, brioche, langoustine sashimi, baby powder, basmati. And I am aware the ’18 vintage was rampantly fruity. But that can’t account for the exquisitely and warmly salty finish.  Can you even talk about its “finish?” It never seems to end. This is addictive Champagne.


I know I’ve said this before, but it is so moving to see a vintner whom I’ve known since he was a young pup, pass through all the learning stages and arrive at such serene mastery. Sure I know this happens all the time, but call me sentimental, I’m still moved. I look at a wine like this, which is only barely in earth-orbit, and all I can feel is Look what my friend has achieved!


And by the way, the dosage, which is extremely low, is perfect.

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Moussé Fils Terres D’Illite 2018 Blanc de Noirs                           +++

Extra-Brut on the back label, picked September 4th (must have been a busy day at Moussé), disgorged January 2nd 2022, 80% Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir.


The Illite is a rare soil, and this is its only outcrop in Champagne. You can google it, or look back at my last Moussé report. I have always liked this wine.


The lovely aromas mingle the earthiness of the green clay with the bread and caramel of Meunier. The palate is nearly explosive, with a quantum concentration and implacable grip, but all of this is in service of staggering concentration of fruit. The Juhlin 2.0 shows every crumb and crag, and will have you shaking your head in disbelief. Because yet again, great wine is a paradox, always; how can these things coexist? It makes no sense. How do you attain this intensity with this detail? How do you even begin to apprehend it?


In this case it is a great wine that isn’t at all “exquisite.” It’s not ethereal, and it doesn’t summon the spirits. It simply has a calm command backed up by an easy intricacy, and each of these things is serenely overwhelming. If you think you can withstand it all, the pealing echo of finish will light up a kind of eventide of afterglow that has the power to undo you.


I am banishing associations of flavor, because they don’t matter here. If you’re fortunate enough to land a bottle of this, you’ll have your own imaginings. What blows me away here isn’t this “thing” or that but instead this glorious ensemble of virtuosic expression. Have fun, and be ready.

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Moussé Fils L’Or D’Eugene, Perpetuelle Blanc de Noirs

In effect the “N.V. Brut” of the domain, a perpetual reserve started in 2003 and ending (uh-oh) with 2020; disgorged Sept. 6th 2022, 80-20 Meunier/PN, and Extra-Brut


It starts by smelling lovely, but the palate then starts getting, let’s say, significantly grassy.


Please understand I distinguish between “grassy” (which isn’t always unpleasant) and “vegetal” (which is). I don’t think grassy has a place in Champagne, but it seems we’re stuck with it for now.


What’s galling is it’s easy to see how excellent this wine ought to have been. And I repeat, the green flavor is a segment of this wine, one which you might very well enjoy.


Some of the growers think I’m crazy for kvetching about this. I am not alone, however, and this is an issue the Champenoise will have to confront going forward. Two such vintages in six years ought to be a wake-up call. Three in the last ten years should be a five-alarm fire.

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Moussé Fils Special Club Meunier 2017 Les Fortes Terres     ++

Disg March 1 2022, essentially zero dosage.


A rugged, “dark” fragrance; it was a botrytis vintage but I don’t insist this is a botrytis aroma. It grows sweeter with air, more glow, more resonance.


Moussé has established a formidable track record with this, the first Meunier Club ever made, and a consistent high-water mark for the variety in all of Champagne. It does not elide the basic charm of Meunier. It refuses to run from it. What it does is to add three layers of reverberation, which confers on it a sort of glory. It’s a wine of Big-Moments.


I mean, you two aren’t like any other pair, right? Your love is unique! You are heroes, you travelled far to get here, yours is a singular destiny, and now here you are, celebrating. Doesn’t matter what. She said yes. It’s your first anniversary. It’s your 50th anniversary. Are you really going to spend a small fortune on a young “luxury” cuvée from a big house? It won’t register!


Drink this instead. It’s rapturous; it’s less expensive; it’s gorgeous and ravishingly delicious, and it will rock the singular world the two of you built alone, and that nobody knows but you. Plus it comes from an actual person, not from a Company, not from an “it.” 


It’s always been a ne plus ultra of Meunier, this wine. It’s more hedonic than the Terres D’Illite, and this is an overwhelmingly convincing vintage of it. In effect – if you don’t know the wine – it is a vibrating, shining moment of the “sweetness” of Meunier without being remotely actually sweet. It says This is what the grape can do. (It also asks “Are you really sure you can tolerate this much pleasure?” But maybe we’ll step away from this particular question….)

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Moussé Fils L’Or D’Eugene Rosé Perpetuelle De Blanc Et De Rouge

Perpetual reserve blend of white and red from 2003/2020, disg September 6, 2022, 82/18 Meunier/PN


The fridge-cold sample was inconveniently foamy upon opening, so be careful. The grassiness of ’20 gives the wine the tartness of sloe-berries or rose hips. Otherwise it’s a typical Moussé Rosé; assertive, resolutely un-charming (but still tasty), with a dense yet fluffy body, and for all its sternness it remains generous in its definitely uncompromising way. It could be compared to a less burly Bouzy Rosé, and yet….


There’s a note here that overlaps with the Special Club, and we shouldn’t ignore it. The sheer weight of vinosity suppresses the ’20 grassiness almost completely, and the wine is a “statement” Rosé. I can’t quite grok the combination of massively dense fruit (quetsch) and underripe blackberries astride this kind of verbena grassiness, but there you go. The downside of the perpetual reserve practice is the admission of vintages that ought to have been excluded, but perhaps we only know this in retrospect. Still, by the third time I tasted it the grassiness had become obtrusive.


Moussé Fils 2018 Special Club Les Bouts De La Ville, Infusion De Meunier                                     ++

An Extra-Brut saignée (168 hours), disg March 1, 2022, 100% Meunier


Moussé is driving me quite bonkers today. Alongside the “compromised” wines containing the ’20 vintage, there are at least three serious masterpieces – of which this is yet another.


This isn’t one of those truffley Rosés that affects to despise the possibilities of fruit in these wines. I like those, but forget them here. This is a hedonic examination of how deeply one can dive into the essential fruit of Meunier. The effect is – fathomless.


Clarity, detail, mass, profundity…but without affects of solemnity but instead a celebration of the outer limits of fruit, or rather, both the outer and the inner limits, because otherwise you can’t make sense of it.


Put it this way. You visit a renowned rose garden and as you’re walking among the hundred heirloom roses you notice the garden is ringed with blackberry bushes, and the berries are ripe and almost stinky, and in between the roses are little plots of herbs, and their resinous fragrance rises in the rising air on this warm sunny day, and when you’ve reached the end they hand you a little urn, in which, they tell you, they have distilled the aromatic essence of the garden, so that when you get it home and lift the lid, you will inhale an essence of everything you smelled that day, among the roses and the berries and the herbs.


That’s something like what awaits you here.

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